Skye Gallery, which opened in October in a small, bright storefront on Broadway, is home to a unique, contemporary cultural vision and meant to serve as a launch pad for emerging artists.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in visual arts at Brown and a master’s in arts education at RISD, gallery owner Jonny Skye led an extensive career working with arts and education-based organizations all over the city. She started with the RISD Museum, then moved on to CityArts, Providence public school classrooms, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and RISE, just to name a few. After serving as a private consultant for artists and organizing PSAs and campaigns for the state department of education, Skye discovered a passion for education reform and empowering emerging artists.
Her perfect marriage of business skills and art world understanding sparked a new dream. “I see myself as a bridge,” she says. “[I can help] artists get themselves organized, have a start, get a few shows under their belts – Skye Gallery is a bit of a portal for fresh new voices and expression.”
To finance her mission, Skye secured small crowdfunded investments from friends, including her longtime Coffee Exchange employer and consulting client Charlie Fishbein. She also took a grant-funded class on business development through the RI Foundation for Women and Enterprise. Skye began seeking a space to showcase “emerging and traditionally underrepresented artists whose work is visionary,” as well as to offer artist management services at an hourly rate.
Services include resume and website guidance, grant writing assistance, opportunity and fellowship mining, finding residencies and teaching opportunities, and more – all to help “take the noise out of an artist’s life,” Skye says, so they “can have rent and food and can make work.”
Skye Gallery currently represents about 10 clients, most of them “urban and indigenous artists – traditionally underrepresented folks who haven’t had incredible luck with access to the market,” she says. The gallery’s third exhibit, “Hearts & Souls,” featured Savonnara Alexandra Sok, a Providence-based artist of Cambodian descent whose parents escaped the Cambodian genocide. The Buddhist Sok discovered art as a young man and, inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat, uses painting to help process his emotions through often colorful, powerful symbols and story-based imagery.
“Everybody here has a story, but it’s also work that isn’t descriptive or abstract but is about integrating a legacy, a spirituality, a past with our contemporary situation,” says Skye, who is also part Native American. “To describe my curatorial eye, I can tell you what doesn’t move me: descriptive art, landscapes, and abstract stuff.” She is far more interested in “the vision and the conversation.”
Artists currently represented also include Andrew Moon Bain, Angel Quinonez, Aymar Ccopacatty, Evans Molina Fernandez, Joel Rosario Tapia, Peruko Ccopacatty, and Sierra Sanchez. Works range in price from $100 – $5,000, with most available through the gallery’s online store. The next solo show will feature the work of Joel Rosario Tapia, whose work channels hip hop and his Puerto Rican indigenous Taino culture.