art at east side

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art at east side  ††

We build because we seek to reach out to others, and those others will come because they initially recognize themselves in that which we have built. After that initial interaction spaces start a process of self-identification, ownership, and evolution based on group interests and ideas. They are not static spaces onto which static viewers arrive, but ever evolving, growing or decaying communities that self-build, develop, and eventually dismantle.  - Pablo Helguera

This project is about reconsidering spaces for art-making and exhibition. With Helguera’s writings in mind, we wandered through Providence and happened upon the  East Side Railroad Tunnel, which  was welded shut in 1993.  In May of that year a violent riot broke out between students and police concerning a gathering in the tunnel.  Despite the broken branches, flooding, and discarded electronics, we felt something sacred about the area and wanted to reinvigorate the site by facilitating creation there. In exploring the area further, we encountered a piece of art. It was a small dwelling that invited people to gather and interact at the site. If we felt so inspired by the space and artists were already creating there, we imagined there were also others who shared this inclination. We imagined art at east side as a way to bring this community together.  

We publically invited artists to create something at the East Side Railroad Tunnel. art at east side features three artists who responded to our invitation and  the site. We will have a gathering that celebrates these works  and facilitates art-making at the tunnel as a community. We hope this will not be a single event, but a growing community that evolves based on the interests and ideas of its participants, as Helguera suggests.


Tunnel Orison No. 1, Arvid Tomayko-Peters


video stills                                      

The abandoned Providence train tunnel seems a sacred space - acoustically, visually, the preparation required to enter. Not only does it sound like a cathedral, but it’s frightening and awe inspiring, similar to the way (or at least the way we perceive) medieval christianity may have been. The train track running down the middle is like a direct connection to the great American God of industry and production. But now it’s just a simulacrum, like the physical altar in a gothic cathedral. The trains are only going to arrive in your head. This video is a first study for treating this tunnel as a sacred space for music and light (or dark). As such, it’s a starting point from which to depart on more specific meditations on images and sound from the tunnel in future work.   -Arvid Tomayko-Peters 

Oh My God, Caleb Weinreb 



video stills 

"Oh My God" is short video made with a combination of hand-drawn and 3D-computer animation. My idea with this piece was to doodle the (mentally) nauseating feeling of being stationary in the present moment but also careening through time. I wanted to make a piece full of movement but where nothing changed or happened.   -Caleb Weinreb 

Frame It In Gold, Wes Sanders 

spray paint, wall 


What is considered beautiful in one decade is considered ugly in another. It just depends on where the frame is hung.   -Wes Sanders


The process of organizing art at east side started with a public invitation via Facebook, word-of-mouth, and e-mail. We also reached out to specific artists and accompanied them to the East Side Railroad Tunnel to survey the site and talk about creating something there. Over the course of the past few weeks, we made several site visits with artists who worked in different mediums, learning more about what was uniquely possible there. We discussed with people who worked in a variety of mediums: sound, silk, paint, sculpture. We planned center the exhibition around a specific event, in which we would showcase work that had been installed and encourage attendees to make work together. We planned for this event on Friday April 12, but it had to be postponed due to weather restrictions - the tunnel and the surrounding area had flooded. 

Postponing the event turned out to be a positive outcome despite the initial stress that it caused. Word had gotten out about what was going to happen and more people were excited to participate. We rescheduled for April 26 at 10:30 PM and refocused our energy on working with three artists who were enthusiastic about creating at the site before Friday, April 19. 

This project was initially more event-centric, but evolved into something more about documentation, creation, and bringing people together to collaborate. It became less about a specific time with art happening simultaneously and more about a space that would be open for future creation, that was ever-evolving, and that invited response. Of course, we will still hold the celebration (and perhaps others in the future), but that is secondary to the art.

We plan to continue documenting with different artists and eventually move this documentation online. 



the site                            discarded electronics        another look at the site      the dwelling 


  another look at the site                   inside the tunnel                            tracks in the tunnel                        more found art in the tunnel 

Wes Sanders begins                     Wes at work                                 Wes's first gold frame 


candles, discarded electronics       candles on the railroad tracks            view of the tunnel                              candles and tunnel wall     


We plan to continue this project under the name †unnel †ribe.  The first celebration will take place on Friday, April 26, 2013 Facebook Event

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