From the Providence City News series "Buy Providence: My Business"
Still thinking about the most creative gift you can give to someone this holiday? Consider buying art made locally by the many artists who live and work in the Creative Capital. As year two of the Buy Art Providence campaign hits the streets again, shoppers are reminded that when you make an art purchase - whether $5 or $500, a painting from a gallery or a pair of earrings from an artist’s studio, just to name a few options – your gift is going to support the work of local talent, like those of painter-sculptor-tattooist, Angel Quiñonez.
Quiñonez is a graduate of Hope High School and Brown University and has lived and worked as an artist in Providence throughout his career. He is also one of five artists this year selected to design featured “I Buy Art” buttons that shoppers receive as a fun way to say thanks for buying art. City News caught Quiñonez having lunch at his local hangout spot, AS220, where he talked about his winning submission and reflected on the evolution of art in the Creative Capital.
What’s behind your design for the "I Buy Art" buttons?
I talked to the guys at Quahog.com because I’m really trying to get to the bottom of this myth. I heard a long time ago that there was a landing dock for a zeppelin on top of the Bank of America building. And at a flea market about twenty years ago, I saw this trinket of the former Fleet Building (now the BofA building) that you can stick a zeppelin pin on. But I guess the landing of the zeppelin never came to fruition because it was either too windy up there, or because the Hindenburg disaster happened. In any case, the landing never happened in Providence. But it’s always something I’ve thought about.
So I named the artwork I submitted to the Buy Art campaign, "Downtown Express" because I imagine how fun it would be to have an airship land on Providence.
As a native of Providence, and as an artist who’s been around for many, many years what are some of the changes you’ve seen in the art scene of the Creative Capital?
In the last decade, and thanks to the City, places like AS220, and stronger collaborations with colleges like RISD, there are a lot more artists here. I’ve seen the actual art change over the years too. There have always been great artists here in Providence but the scope of art is greater now. We have a lot more creative and talented people doing a variety of things. Places like the Steel Yard and even the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket these days are also providing enclaves for artists to go in and be able to afford to do their art by living on very little money. If you can save on a few basic things, you can save more money to be able to do your art that you can then sell, then make more art and make more money!
I’d like to think that more people are buying art these days. I sold some big pieces a couple of years ago but it’s nice to know that that’s possible now and that there’s more places where that’s possible now. That wasn’t the case 10 or 15 years ago. We were limited in the places where we can show our work back then. So places like Stairwell Gallery and the Dirt Palace today are places that keep the heartbeat of the city going. We need them. We need to have places where we can show our art and sell it. We need the cooperation of everyone, the entire community, to make it all happen.
Why should people buy art in the Creative Capital?
Because if someone buys you art as a gift, you’ll always love it. You’ll hang it up and even if you replace it with another piece of art someday, you’ll always have it to cherish. Art, for many people, carries sentimental value and not only that it’s the only thing that will appreciate in value. Prada shoes or Coach purses aren’t going to appreciate in value. And when you buy art, it also supports the local artists and those of us in the local community, which is something we need to do.
Art is what’s at the heart of the revitalization downtown so let’s keep it going! Places like AS220 have always done this but programs like Buy Art Providence is also a great thing for our community. Think about places, too, like Craftland. There you can buy gifts from $10 to maybe $1,000 or more. To me, it makes art affordable for anybody. I’m really digging that.
Where do you shop in Providence?
It depends. Right now I shop at Symposium Books. I shop at AS220 in the gallery and the print shop. I shop at Queen of Hearts and Pie In The Sky on Thayer Street. I do buy most of my clothes online now but I shop everywhere in Providence!
Describe your work as an artist.
I paint. I sculpt. And I do tattoo work. I’ve done that for a really long time. My work is ever evolving. It’s changed so much in the last 10, 15 years. If you see my work right now for the Cuban Revolution (the restaurant), you’d think I was totally destroying my style and starting from scratch. But I think as an artist you have to reinvent yourself every few years. I’m in the process of doing that. It’s about all the things I’ve experienced over the years. It’s cultural. It’s sociopolitical. It’s a little bit of everything! It’s just madness!
Where can people see your work?
Right now, in Providence, people can see my work at Queen of Hearts, the Cuban Revolution, Jerky’s Bar & Grill, and online at www.artangelgabriel.com. If you’re in Martha’s Vineyard, you can see my work at the Treehouse Studios or stop by my tattoo shop, Amity Custom Ink.