President’s Message – Annual Meeting 2021
As we enter our 141st year, I’m honored and proud to be a part of an amazing legacy of stewardship – this caretaking of, in the words of Charles Walter Stetson (when describing our founding to the Providence Evening Press in 1880), “a Club…composed not only of artists and amateurs, but art-lovers…to interest people not only in our own work, but more fully in art itself.” The COVID-19 pandemic (and, for the record, even as I write this, we are tentatively operating and planning for the fall season under the shadow of the Delta variant) tested our collective stewardship in ways we never could have anticipated – yet, in spite of the disruption to the daily rhythms of our beloved Club, we can be thankful for the many silver linings to come out of the challenges we faced – and overcame.
Thank you to you, our members – for remaining both compassionate and dedicated to the Club’s mission. Thank you to Seb Borges and staff – for continually finding ways (even while working within the constraints of furloughs and a skeleton crew) to provide the comforts and camaraderie we all so longed for in our isolation. We were all able to stay connected through takeout meals, fireside courtyard gatherings, ZOOM programming, and online sales/exhibitions, to name just a few. Thank you to Nancy Plunkett and her work with Finance Committee, for their vigilance in managing our bottom line – to quote our accountant, “your position went from incredibly strong, to outstanding.” Thank you to our Board of Managers and Committees, for their ability and willingness to pivot and pivot, and then pivot, to ever changing needs and technologies. Managing the affairs of the Club remotely for more than a year would be no small feat – managing successive online annual meetings and the ratification of the amended Constitution is extraordinary. Thank you to Nancy Gaucher-Thomas, for being the right kind of leader at the right time – for not only keeping our members informed in weekly messages, but for also (leveraging a lifetime of arts administration and public engagement) initiating the Art of Giving and being instrumental in a trio of art initiatives (the Mask project, the Burleigh Courtyard sculpture invitational, and the Bannister statue.)
Many of you may recognize Tom Sgouros (PAC Medal recipient, AR 1965-2012, including 21 years teaching the Tuesday night “Duffers’ Class”) in the photo above, taken a few years back in my studio. He was both my introduction to the Club and to (along with the myriad of RISD students he mentored) the idea that art history isn’t a static recitation of the past – that, much like the Force, art is something that connects and binds us to generation after generation of artists. Speaking during a slide lecture Tom Sgouros said, “These men & women were no different than you and I here today in front of our easels – and if we went back in time, you’d share the same joys and struggles with them over a glass of wine.” I’m certain that, if we were all to travel back to February 19th, 1880, to raise a glass to our health and collective future, our 16 founders – and subsequent generations – would be proud.
–– Shawn Kenney
48th President, Providence Art Club
The Club’s History
In 1880 a group of professional artists, amateurs, and art collectors founded the Providence Art Club to stimulate the appreciation of art in the community.
The Providence Art Club thrives on and welcomes new members. Membership in the Providence Art Club in restricted, by the Charter, to persons interested in art and culture.