R.K. Projects–Sam Keller and Tabitha Piseno’s nomadic curatorial enterprise turned fixed-location gallery–plans to close in early November so that the esteemed founding duo can relocate from Providence to New York. Damn!
“R.K. Projects is moving to NYC to become an organizational entity titled, City Affect … Our last projects in Providence will be a final large-scale group exhibition ['Micro-Eutopia' from Sept. 20 to Nov. 3] at the 204 Westminster 2nd Floor gallery, ‘Pufferss’ (remember? – Providence Underground, Freak-Fest, Eco-Rave, Shaman Slam) in Olneyville, and a site-specific pop-up exhibition that simply presents the facets of its title: ‘Interaction/Immersion.’ Co-curated with Allison Paschke (curator of ‘de/construct’ and ‘de/construct II’) and artist Lynne Harlow, the exhibition will be located in a vacant property in Pawtucket that was once one of the most important industrial sites in Rhode Island.”
R.K. Projects began in October 2010 after Piseno and Keller graduated from Rhode Island School of Design. At first, each exhibition appeared in a different interesting Providence location–a neat vacant storefront, a giant old mill, a corner industrial space, a rundown building. In particular, they demonstrated an eye for what you might call the “eccentric abstraction” that is one of the leading edges of art today. From the start, their efforts were recognized by art folks around town as impressive. A sign of this embrace was that just over a year after launching, R.K. curated, “Atlas,” a show for Brown University’s Granoff Center. (Piseno also helped us put together the ballot for the 2011 New England Art Awards.) In April, they gave up their pop-up program to settle into a big, rambling second-floor space at 204 Westminster St. (pictured below).
Providence produces lots of great art, but commercial galleries often struggle here. There just aren’t that many collectors here–particularly for new, challenging art–and most local galleries have struggled to connect with out of town clients. (In fact, this was why R.K. began as a nomadic operation.) And so there are very few galleries here to showcase the awesome work made here. It’s one of the drags on the Providence art scene.
It isn’t exactly a surprise that R.K. Projects is departing–and for New York. Their talent and ambition was obvious from the beginning. But this is exactly why their move feels like such a big loss for Providence.
Related: An interview with Piseno by Chicago’s Bad At Sports from last November.