Thursday, February 25, 2021

Arthur Cayo Interview

X: Over the summer, anyone with eyes in Providence started to see your work popping up all over the city. Mostly in Downtown, and around Olneyville. Your work on the Uniroyal tire building, which has now been demolished (a portrait of Breanna Taylor surrounded by neon stenciled hearts) became one the most posted images on RI Social Media of the summer (with many people not knowing who was behind it). I think for many this mural spoke very clearly to the pain and rage at the injustice that’s been built into the core of American institutions, but also expressed other emotional things that resonated with many. People posted on social media things in response to it like: “after this week I needed to see this' '.  Your Instagram account is @artforsociety.  From this and other things that you’ve posted I’ve taken this as a pretty straight forward description of what your project is. Making art for society (obviously this has an extra layer, since your name is Art!).  How did you get started making art, and was there always a social component for you? 

A: I mostly paint portraits. Most of the people I paint I know and use painting to get to know people as well. The social component is a recent thing. It's a tool. You know Art can be used in many ways. As you know I could have painted a bunch of people that lost their lives to the hands of the police but Breonna's Story stood out the most. She was sleeping. 

X: Did the paintings on the Uniroyal building get demolished with the building?

A: The paintings did get destroyed on the building. I asked if they could not demolish them and they said that they couldn't stop. 

X: It seems like painting portraits was your main thing for a while, but at some point stencils and geometry started to work their way into your compositions. How did you get interested in stencils? 

A: So when the riots and the looting happened I put out a FB message saying that I would paint a mural on any boarded up business. Little did I know every business downtown was boarding up. Got a ton of action, rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I came up with the heart stencil because it was a good quick effective universal message. 

X: Many of your portraits have a red stripe or section across the bottom. This creates a really visually striking connection between them all when looking at them as a body of work. I’ve been curious about this red since I first saw your portraits! Do you see your portraits as connected to each other and does this red area play a role in connecting them? 

A: At first the red bars on the bottom of my work were for measurement purposes then they become my style. Red is my color! 

X: It seems like your portraits are a mix of people who you know, and others who might fall into the category of “personalities” or celebrities. In the exhibit in the Dirt Palace Window, there is a portrait of Audre Lorde & Buddy Cianci, you’ve also done paintings of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Harriet Tubman, Andre the Giant & Gina Raimundo. How do you decide who you’re going to paint?  

A: Gina, RBG, Buddy, Harriet all those paintings came about or resurfaced due to timing relating to black history. Gina leaving. People hate Gina. It was Buddy’s birthday around the time I dropped off work for the installation. 

X: You paint on canvas, but also plywood when you’re doing murals. How do these experiences compare? 

A: Painting on plywood is coo! When I paint at home, i'm using oil paints. On the road i'm using acrylics and spray paint and the scale is a lot larger. Doing the murals I realized that oddly enough I work faster outside. 

X: So much of your work has people at the center, they’re either portraits, or people in movement, playing sports, skateboarding etc. But then there’s a body of work that is really geometric, almost quilt like in their complexity. And some pieces where these are styles are mixed. Do you feel like the storytelling is different in these two modes? What do you like most about each way of working? Some of your work circulates in a “public art” or “street art” context. Are there other folks doing art in public places, in Providence or elsewhere who inspire you, or who you collaborate with? Who you’ve seen from afar and wondered about (like I was about you before I learned who was putting up all of these amazing murals with

A: The quilt looking piece - that's what the aim was. It came to be based off a heart mural. I met Eric who has ties to The Avenue Concept and they reached out to me about doing a mural. They loved the hearts and the positive vibe. I was teamed up with @_gregwashere_.  We talked about the quilt idea. I cut out some stencils and we made it happen. Greg is a very dope artist. I met a lot of dope artists over the summer. I don't know if i would have met so many art people if it wasn't for the pandemic. I'm pretty sure not. So i'm grateful for the artist community they really showed up and showed out and i'm glad to be a part of it. 


The Storefront Window Gallery project is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

How Long



how long will this winter be? 






The works in the window are a mix of my portraits and some of the street art that I have scattered around the city over the last few months. I wanted to come up with something I could do quick and had a good message so I went with the hearts. Heats are just good vibes, it’s a universal sign of love that the world needs more of currently. The portraits of people that are inspiring me to paint all the time. I know all of them except for Freda Kendall and Audre Lorde.  Looking forward to the spring in the summer so I can do more murals around the city and hopefully do more work with other art organizations in Providence and across Rhode Island.

I am providence based right here in Olneyville was born in Brooklyn raised in Rhode Island. Been living in Providence since 2004. Most of the art I do are portraits, this is fitting because I fancy myself a people person. Every Job I've had in my life had to do with working with the public. The last year has been difficult for many with social distancing and so on. I'm grateful for the art because it's an outlet for me to release my energy in a positive way, wether it's painting at home or painting murals around the city. Over the summer right after the riots and looting downtown I started painting heart murals on boarded up store fronts then started painting them on pretty much any boarded up building I could find. I've teamed up with the Avenue Concept to do a pop up mural at Mott & Chace Sotheby's water place and now I'm currently their Artist. I change out paintings in their office every few months. 


"I have been designing for 10 years now and it wasn't until those final few years that I decided that it was something very special to me. I realized that I get inspired by so many things, a random thought while daydreaming, a song that completely takes my mind to another place or an oddly painted house that only through my own eyes, I could recognize the beauty and potential of. After attending the Textiles Summer Institute at RISD several years ago, I am currently pursuing a career as a fashion designer in New York City"


The Storefront Window Gallery project is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.



The past 4 years, we were so very lucky to work with Deb Dormody and Mary-Kim Arnold as Co-Chairs of the Dirt Palace Public Projects Board of Directors. We've been consistently humbled by their wisdom and talents. We're sad to see them transition off the board, but are so excited for what they are doing as artists, organizers, and creative minds. We a very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such amazing power houses. Thank you so much Deb and Mary-Kim!!!

We're also super excited to welcome new board members Lizzie Araujo-Haller, Becci Davis, and Cody Ross to the Dirt Palace Public Projects Board. More about these new board members below! Check out our full board here!

Lizzie Araujo Haller - In her role as Deputy Director for the City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, Lizzie facilitates, convenes, and connects - with an emphasis on cultural equity, social justice and policy. She previously held roles at AS220, Black Rep, Firehouse 13 and Fete Music Hall. Born and raised in the Bronx, Lizzie’s family moved to the Ocean State when she was 13. Her interests lie in transforming space through hyper local community celebration, providing access to resources, and supporting equitable cultural expression. She moves throughout her roles with respect, kindness, and humility. Engagement is a work in progress. All power to the people!

Becci Davis was born on a military installation in Georgia named after General Henry L. Benning of the Confederate States Army. Her birth initiated her family’s first generation after the Civil Rights Act and its fifth generation post-Emancipation. Becci is a Rhode Island-based interdisciplinary artist who finds inspiration in exploring natural and cultural landscapes, in addition to her experiences as a daughter, mother, American, and Southern born and raised, Black woman. After earning a MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design in 2017, Becci was the recipient of the St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award in Visual Art, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowship in New Genres, the Providence Public Library Creative Fellowship, and the RISD Museum Artist Fellowship. She was also featured as one of Art New England magazine’s 10 Emerging Artists of 2019. Becci lives with her family in Wakefield, Rhode Island and is currently an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Visual Art at Brown University.

Cody Ross is an indebted beneficiary of alternative cultural institutions, subcultural space-making, and radical political interventions at every scale. He has contributed to a range of projects and organizations, including collective housing experiments, worker owned cooperative businesses, art collectives, artist-run community and studio spaces, academic research projects, and youth movement organizing against incarceration. n collaboration with a collective of artists, he helped found New Fruit, an artist-run studio, printmaking, and exhibition space in Portland, Maine dedicated to supporting feminist, queer, and radical cultural production. Cody was awarded a Kindling Fund grant for his project Cathedral, an iPhone application and digital curatorial platform imagined as “a public bathroom on your cell phone.” His art practice is informed by a general ontological confusion provoked by queer, feminist, and affect theory as well as a faith in the space of encounter. Cody has worked for libraries, archives and museums throughout the northeast, including the Maine College of Art, Bowdoin College Library, the LGBTQ National History Archives, and the Leslie Lohman Museum. He currently tends to the preservation of digital archival material at the Brown University Library. He is grateful to have been a resident of Dirt Palace from 2018 to 2020.




If you got an application for a mail ballot delivered and were confused about's some info!
Rhode Island is holding a special election on March 2 on a series of proposed bond questions. It sure seems like a good time to be investing in infrastructure and the people and jobs that help to build it!

The Bonds to be voted on range from supporting affordable housing, to arts, to education. Passage of Question 6 on the ballot will authorize the state to issue bonds of $7 million to support arts facilities and historic preservation efforts across Rhode Island. For more info on the Arts and Culture bond got to

Ways to Vote:
All voters were recently mailed a mail ballot application which must be returned by February 9th. Voting by mail is the easiest and most convenient way to vote YES! to Rhode Island. Voters also have the option to:
  • Vote early at their local City or Town Hall from Feb. 10th - March 1st.
  • Vote in person on Election Day, March 2nd 
  • Drop off your mail ballot at an official local ballot drop off box.

Completing your mail ballot application takes 2 minutes. Be sure to sign your application, and place it in the postage paid return envelope as soon as possible. Mail ballot applications must be RECEIVED by Tuesday, Feb. 9th.

Learn More



The Dirt Palace will have slots open for new Artists in Residence at the Olneyville Square facility (DP Classic) April, May, and June. This residency is for a minimum of a 1 year term. Applications due February 13th. Please be in touch if you'd like more information or know someone who would be a great applicant.
email: dirt palace public projects at gmail dot com
Copyright © 2021 dirtpalace, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up at our website, or signed in on a visit to the Dirt Palace long ago.
Our mailing address is:
14 olneyville Sq
ProvidenceRi 02909

Add us to your address book

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp