RI Latino Arts Promotes Safe Practices with Paint

Museo del Barrio transforms Providence streets into health-conscious artscape

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With businesses reopening in promising phases, it’s easy to feel like things are going back to normal; however, social distance and masks are still crucial safety measures and a new art program from Rhode Island Latino Arts, a non-profit that promotes and preserves “the art, history, heritage and cultures of Spanish-speaking people in Rhode Island” is here to remind us. With the help of Latinx artists Tamara Díaz, Rene Gómez, and filmographer Alberto Genao, RILA has created street murals “made up of whimsical designs” around the parameters of Carolina’s Family Restaurant on Ontario and Broad Streets in South Providence. The project is known as El Museo del Barrio, or Sidewalk Museum.

“I have always felt this particular neighborhood of Broad Street – aka La Broá – would benefit from some kind of public art,” says RILA Executive Director Marta Martinez, who has led several community walking tours in the area. “I thought of murals, such as those found in numerous Latino-based neighborhoods in other cities, because I think this sort of public art always brightens a neighborhood and can be a source of pride for the residents.”

While the project was funded by the Providence Streets Coalition and the Providence Department of Art, Culture, and Tourism, RILA is coordinating the entire project, which will not only brighten storefronts along Broad Street, but also serve as reminders to social distance since each painting is six feet apart. “People can stand, look down, and enjoy the artwork while they wait in line to go into a restaurant or talk to another person,” says Martinez, adding that both the artists and Broad Street businesses have expressed how proud they are to be a part of the beautification of their own neighborhood.

For more information, contact Marta V. Martínez at marta@rilatinoarts.org .