The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) today announced a collaboration with The Avenue Concept public art organization that creates two “art buses” which will help promote the importance of both public transportation and public art in Rhode Island. Called MOVE RI, the project involves two buses wrapped in vivid designs created by The Avenue Concept’s 2018 Design Fellows, Myles Dumas and Colin Gillespie. The buses will be in service on RIPTA routes across the state and will hopefully brighten the landscape while also encouraging discussion about art, public transit and how the two can complement each other.
Yarrow Thorne, founder and executive director of The Avenue Concept, broached the idea of a new art bus project with RIPTA for the state about a year ago. “We were excited by his vision and his commitment to public art in Rhode Island,” said Scott Avedisian, CEO of RIPTA. “These buses provide a wonderful canvas for public art and will also help underscore the fact the public transportation is a multi-faceted benefit to the communities it serves.”
The project is a continuation of The Avenue Concept’s mission to create public art encounters by incorporating art more thoroughly into the urban environment and providing opportunities to engage and interact with it. It continues a season of projects and programs that began in July, and included the installation of four new sculptures in downtown Providence as well as a large-scale mural by internationally renowned street artist Gaia at Custom House Street, and another mural currently in progress on the facade of the former Providence National Bank building. This is RIPTA’s third collaboration with The Avenue Concept. The two organizations have previously worked together on a project to turn recycled scrap metal from old Kennedy Plaza signage into art, and a sculpture installation by Rhode Island artist Peruko Ccopacatty in the Plaza earlier this year.
“MOVE RI is a natural progression of the work we’ve been doing for the past five years. We’ve put art on sidewalks and walls, now we’re putting it on wheels,” explained Thorne. “Our goal is to make public art accessible to as many people as possible. Now instead of placing it in a fixed location and waiting for people to come to it, we’re bringing the art to them and inviting them to experience it in a new way.”
One of the buses, the “Move” bus, was unveiled this morning at Kennedy Plaza. The design, which forms the word “move” from repeating lines of bold colors, is intended as a visual announcement of the new program. “Creating the letters in this fashion added energy and a visual vibration to the design, which we felt really reinforced the name,” explained Dumas. “The design is more abstract when the bus passes in close proximity to the viewer. However, as you move further away, the word becomes easier to read and it takes on a more functional role.” The inside of the bus has also been redesigned by the Dumas and Gillespie; it provides more information about the project and encourages riders to share their photos of the art buses on Instagram with the hashtag #MoveRIbus.
The second bus, a visual ode to the local street band festival, PRONK, is scheduled to be unveiled during the festival on Monday, October 8.
RIPTA first launched an art bus, The Moving Bus, in 2012 in partnership with the AS220 Youth Photograph program and other community partners. As with that project, the cost of creating the designs and wrapping for the new art buses is being assumed by the artistic partner.
The designers, Myles Dumas and Colin Gillespie, were chosen as The Avenue Concept’s Design Fellows because they have been instrumental in the development of MOVE RI. Both work as designers at the award-winning local ad agency, NAIL, and have extensive portfolios of visual branding and storytelling campaigns for clients like the Providence Journal, the New York City Marathon, and New Balance. They previously worked with AS220 on The Moving Bus.
“MOVE RI combines public art and public transit to celebrate the creativity and diversity of Rhode Island,” the designers said in a written statement. “The goal of the project is to use creativity to turn a normal bus ride into a visual journey. The MOVE RI art buses will travel through every region in Rhode Island and we hope there will be some smiles when one shows up at your stop.”
Founded in Providence in 2012, The Avenue Concept was the city’s first privately administered public art program. Since then it has installed or exhibited more than 150 works of public art, and invested more than $1 million in both artwork and infrastructure.
“We believe the public has a right to experience and interact with art in everyday life,” said Thorne. “We’re grateful to have a partner like RIPTA that recognizes the value public art brings to the city, and that businesses and civic organizations benefit from supporting and engaging with public art.”