Year of the City (Branded Partnership)

The Lost City

Photography exhibit looks back on the 1960s through the lenses of Carmel Vitullo and Harry Callahan


Imagine Providence circa 1960: Shopping at Shepard’s and navigating traffic around Suicide Circle. Buying newspapers from kiosks on Westminster Street or candy from Fannie Farmer. The Providence Album, Vol 1 revisits this bygone era through the lenses of Carmel Vitullo and Harry Callahan, whose powerful photographs captured the city during this time of tremendous change.

Carmel, now 94 and still living in Providence, documented Federal Hill; her photographs are a love letter to the neighborhood where she grew up, revealing its vibrant street life and inimitable characters. Harry moved from Chicago in 1961 to found RISD’s photography department. Already a well-known experimental photographer, he would go on to become one of the most significant of the 20th century. His photos of Providence resemble film noir stills, documenting dark and deserted downtown streets.

Marisa Angell Brown curated the exhibition with four Brown graduate students. “The 1960s aren’t that far away, yet these photographs are like images of a lost city,” she says. “They are also so different, in such interesting ways – it’s as though [they] lived in two completely different cities, yet many of their locations are less than a mile from each other.” This is the first of three planned photography exhibitions focused on Providence in the 1960s-90s.

The Providence Album, Vol 1: Carmel Vitullo and Harry Callahan (May 4-July 19)

Carriage House Gallery, John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities, 357 Benefit Street

Opening reception: May 4, 5-7pm

Check online for details on gallery talks and walking tours.

Year of the City: The Providence Project is an unprecedented year-long exploration of the history, life, and culture of Providence’s 25 neighborhoods through exhibitions, walks, lectures, and conferences produced by 50+ different curators. Together, these projects reveal new stories and new ways of thinking about the city we love.