The $270,000 ribbon
Developing the Station District into a thriving hub has been near the top of Warwick’s to-do list for some time. Now with the Interlink and rail service in full swing, the city is hopeful that Jefferson Boulevard and the surrounding areas will be transformed from a concrete strip of warehouses and industrial parks into a bustling place for small businesses, residential developments and arts organizations.
A new art project is set to be installed on the southwest side of the Interlink garage, but since it’s going to be such a focal piece of the Station District, the decision about what the art should be is not something that should have been done without second thought.
The installation is meant to be a showpiece that sets the tone for the type of city center Warwick is trying to develop. Should it be something historical in nature that gives a nod to the industrial days of yore? Should it be modern and glitzy, Warwick’s own Times Square? Or should it be practical yet beautiful, something that welcomes those to the city and the Ocean State with hints of nautical and maritime themes?
What a seven-member panel chose to be the piece de resistance of the Station District is a proposal by Miami team Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquard. The state will dole out $270,000 to the team for their work.
The winning art installation will feature multiple colored ribbons installed vertically down the southwest side of the Interlink parking garage’s exterior wall. The ribbons will illuminate at night.
State law mandates that 1 percent of the cost of a public project must be allocated for art, but choosing the appropriate type for the location can be tricky. To some, the installation is a way to add some spice to the otherwise gray, concrete stretch that’s commonly called Jefferson Boulevard. The multi-colored, glowing ribbons will be a display piece that injects the area with culture and creativity in an attempt to move it away from the doldrums of large warehouses and industrial parks. We get the point: adding art to a location can instantly raise its appeal, and when you’re attempting to revitalize an area, appeal is key.
But others see the proposal as being out of place. The Technicolor ribbons have no significance or meaning to Rhode Island, and have no particular message. Some say they might even detract from the historical mill feeling that the Station District currently possesses.
Mayor Avedisian said he would have rather seen an aquarium take up residence inside the Interlink, but that idea, although considered, was tossed aside. Instead, the Miami pair will bring their $270,000 winning design to the Ocean State. Whether we’ll grow to love it or learn to tolerate it remains to be seen.