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A Tour of Providence Prints!

PCG Exhibitions & Collections Manager
Nichole Speciale

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of PAL’s rhizomatic and layered approach to narrative and inquiry, PCG’s Collections & Exhibitions Manager Nichole Speciale offers this annotated tour of Providence Prints! on view in the Reilly Gallery, Smith Center for the Arts from October 26, 2022 to March 23, 2023.

A Tour of Providence Prints!1

As you walk into the gallery you are struck by the number of items in the space2 and the amount of color drawing your eye around the room. Immediately to the right is a colorful sign reading “It’s Not Real Until You Print It” leaning against the wall, which is an enlarged version of one of the Jacque Bidon’s offset prints hanging on the wall in a grouping to the left of the sign. The wall text surrounds the blown-up artwork and, on the left side, is displayed on a leaning pink board.3 There are two groupings of prints on the wall to the left of the signage.4 The first features lithographs of quoted black historical figures and beautiful letterpress phrases inspiring social justice. There is even a letterpress print on a mirrored mylar surface.5 The second grouping is composed of posters from Counterform,6 Ryan Dean, Sara Inacio, Julia Elizabeth, Allison Bianco, Lara Henderson, Maeve Martin.7 These prints are from 2020 at the height of the pandemic after we witnessed the murder of George Floyd and reflect the feeling of that time period through vibrant color letterpress work.8

The long, bright-red table in the center hosts a gaggle of zines and handmade books from Queer.Archive.Work.9 that come in all shapes and sizes.10 Their sister collective, Binch Press has a display of CSA11 packs on the six shelves across from the table along the left wall. Crawling up and through the gray back corner12 is a collection of linotype prints from the Linotype Daily by Dan Wood.13 To the right of that is a neon yellow flat file 14 with two of Shepard Fairey’s Providence Prints15 above. Inside is a collection of prints from artists from AS220. To the left of that, on the door in the back of the gallery is a black and white Lois Harada Rename Victory Day poster.

As you turn around, you will see the wall with the entrance is covered in a wallpaper16 of a large plaid pattern with a white background and yellow, blue and pink striping by Lois Harada. Upon closer look you see that that stripes are made up of strands of letters.17 On the right side of that wall, there is another Rename Victory Day poster by Lois Harada this time in red and white. Lastly, behind the attendant desk is a framed print by Dan Wood that reads “If we can find that grace, Emanuel 9, everything can change.” This concludes the tour.

A photograph of a printing press at AS220 covered with half sheet prints that read "Justice, Cambio" and a packet of color swatches.

Counterform, Change_Cambio / Justice_Justicia (production view), 2020.


Through the eyes of an exhibition manager.


There are 631 individual items in the exhibition. The gallery is 43′ long by 20.5′ wide.


We purchased this board, the board for “It’s Not Real Until You Print It,” and the table planks from local L. Sweet Lumber and the vinyl was cut and installed by MB Signs and Graphics. The owner of MB Signs and graphics, George Hovagimiam, is very impressive in his experience with museums and willingness to get creative with a vinyl project. This was our first time working with him and plan to work with him again in the future.


It may not be noticeable at first, but as you look closer, you’ll see these and the majority of the prints on the wall are secured with magnets at the corners. I ordered magnets ahead of install that turned out to be not very magnetic and also not enough for what we needed to hang. Researching a solution, I found that Harbor Freight Tools happens to carry 10-packs of small rare earth magnets, which are very magnetic. So, I bought out the entire inventory at both the Seekonk and Warwick Harbor Freights that week.


Jacque has said many times that he’ll print on anything and it’s true with this resin letterpress print on mylar. He described that the non-absorbent surface caused the resin to bead up. As a result, the letters are textured on the surface so that if you were to close your eyes you could likely still make out what the print says via touch, which is a great juxtaposition with the print reading “What do you see?”


I visited José Menéndez of Counterform a number of times at AS220 to pick up prints. They had an exhibition of their work up at the 131 Washington St. Location and I learned about all the project Counterform has worked on in the community including branding for PVD Prep School, a Covid vaccine hesitancy campaign, and a campaign to reenergize the Blackstone River where you could sit and write a letter to the Blackstone, which is close to home for me.


Because the Providence printing scene is so collaborative, it actually took us a while to put together this final list of names on the wall. José from Counterform and Jacque Bidon gave us the trails to find all the creators involved in these prints, many of whom worked with Jacque and/or his printing equipment.


When discussing the poster reading “Fuck White Supremacy,” Ryan Dean, the artist, described wanting to respond to these white supremacy fueled events like George Floyd’s murder and the Charlottesville car attack and that was the only thing he could think to say.


Paul Soulellis, Q.A.W. founder was scheduled to lay out the Q.A.W. table, but he got into an accident that kept him in the hospital through installation. Luckily, Tycho Horan of Binch Press was able to act on behalf of Paul to set up the beautiful display.


One small blue one in particular caught my eye. It’s titled “How to Stay Inspired and Keep Working” and gives lots of motivating ways to keep your art practice going, which I very much need.


CSA in this case stands for Community Supported Art. Tycho Horan of Binch Press explained that in the time of Covid, they were trying to figure out a way to generate income, so they modeled this program on the popular farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where community members can pay a lump sum up front which then supports the farm workers through that season. In return the CSA member gets a share of whatever they grow.


Our preparator painted four rectangles at decreasing percentages of grays. Originally, we were planning to label the tops with the four seasons to emphasize the passage of time in the linotype daily, but could not find a painter in time.


Dan Wood came to the gallery to install the Linotype Daily display. I was very glad to have had the pleasure of meeting him. We weren’t entirely sure what the method of hanging would be even still on the day he arrived. After trying nails, pins, clips and tacks, he settled on the screw and magnet method we used for the rest of the space. So, I did actually have to run out again and buy the rest of the stock from the surrounding Harbor Freight stores. He also hung most of the work so it was slightly angled up to the left. He laughed about how he must just lean a little that way. Our student workers, Zari Apodaca and Crosby Colyer, used small levels and evened out the whole display.


The flat file is one of the first things I worked on for this exhibition, since we had to find a place to powder coat it, leave time for shipping and the powder coating process and then coordinate pickup. When it came time to pick up, our art handlers had called out sick and I, at 23 weeks pregnant drove our van down taking a gamble on whether or not there would be someone there to load it for me. When I arrived, there was an older gentleman behind the desk and a younger worker in the shop, so that was the load in team. The older gentleman said that he was getting too old for this. I felt bad about making him lift the cabinet, but he was in good spirits.


One of which was turned into his 100th mural on the AS220 building on Aborn Street in Downtown Providence.


We brought in RG Wall covering to install the wallpaper. They are very good at what they do. Ronald Girard, the owner showed me other wall covering projects they have done including some Newport area homes and the ICA Watershed in Boston. He showed me one ornate room where all the walls and the ceilings were covered in a busy pattern-a bold choice.


Though if you try to read the letters, you won’t get very far. Lois confirmed that it says nothing.