Posted by: Providence Chamber of Commerce | November 29, 2011

PROVIDENCE/BUY ART Holiday Shopping Campaign Kicks Off Today

Mayor Angel Taveras joined with Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White and Providence business owners and artists today to kick off Providence’s BUY PROVIDENCE /BUY ART holiday shopping campaign to support the local economy.

“We all benefit when we buy locally, and we’ve got great local businesses and artists in Providence. Whether you live, work or go to school in Providence, everyone can make a difference this holiday season by shopping locally and supporting our local economy,” said Mayor Taveras.

The City is offering a number of free tools to support small businesses during the holiday sales season, including window signage, limited free parking, artists-designed pins and marketing.  The City also created an interactive, password-protected website to support local holiday shopping by enabling local merchants to post their sales and specials:

Studies show that independent businesses with Buy Local campaigns have reported stronger sales earnings than those communities that don’t have such an initiative. These small businesses circulate more local dollars– creating jobs, supporting the local economy and improving the quality of our neighborhoods. 

At the press event, which was held at Festival Ballet on Hope Street in Providence, Mayor Taveras and the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism also launched the fourth annual campaign of BUY ART Providence – the city’s own creative campaign to encourage local art buying.

The five artists highlighted in this year’s BUY ART Providence campaign were selected by a jury of participating galleries, artists and retailers: Casey Spencer (graphic designer and illustrator), Mara O’Day (painter and art educator), Stephanie Alvarez Ewens (documentary photographer), Angel Dean (printmaker) and Delia Kovac (multidisciplinary artist).

The images from these artists span a remarkable range of style, content and process that once again shows the depth and breadth of our local creative community. Original artwork from these artists will be on view and for sale at Craftland on Westminster Street beginning December 8 and continuing through the end of the 2011.

The campaign’s “I BUY ART” buttons will be available through all Providence-based stores, galleries and holiday sales as well as individual artists that sell original artwork. The sought-after buttons are used to thank each person who purchases art and are becoming collectors’ items.

Participation in the program is easy and comes at no cost to city retailers, arts organizations and artists. Interested parties should visit to sign up. Local shoppers who purchase art during this holiday season simply must look for these buttons at the register.

Program supporters eagerly anticipate each year’s new series of buttons. Program Director Margie Butler has witnessed how the enthusiasm for this effort keeps building.

“The magic of this program is in the artwork on our advocacy buttons and also actual artwork that is being sold all across our city,” Butler said.

BUY ART 2011 Artist Bios

Casey Spencer

Casey is an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator. Her character filled Providence scene selected for this year’s BUY ART buttons features Thomas Street (our historic city block that houses The Providence Art Club), a WaterFire gondola and ‘Rhody Red’ rooster. The full image has even more local icons in it and was created originally for a Leadership Rhode Island poster. Born and raised in Alaska, Casey received her formal training at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Following a decade of corporate branding and package design, Casey followed her dream to work for herself. She now runs her own graphic design and illustration business from her studio on the West Side of Providence. Her local clients include Leadership Rhode Island, West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) and The Hudson Street Deli. Casey frequents dog parks, loves to travel and makes a mean polenta. Visit Casey’s blog to see her full portfolio.

Mara O’Day

Mara is an American artist and educator who grew up surrounded by powerful art in Papua New Guinea, the United Kingdom and Turkey. She credits Providence’s local and international community of students, educators and artists as a major source of personal inspiration. Mara’s portfolio of work spans abstract landscape, portraiture, pattern compositions and collage. In addition to her regard of local peers, Mara is influenced by the work of Hannelore Baron, the Prinzhorn Collection, Jennifer Eli French, Rembrandt, John Heartfield, Wangechi Mutu and the Mappa Mundi of Hereford Cathedral. She is proud to have worked as a lead instructor, studio coordinator and mentor at RISD’s Project Open Door from 2004 to 2011. Mara is currently a visiting artist at the Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Her selected portrait for this year’s BUY ART campaign is an oil on canvas painting titled Amalia. More of her images can be viewed at

Stephanie Alvarez Ewens

Stephanie is a freelance documentary photographer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Originally from California, Ewens has called Rhode Island home for the last eight years. After completing a B.A. in Economics at Santa Clara University, she studied Photojournalism at San Francisco State University and Documentary Photography at The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Stephanie applies her eye for detail and the documentary genre to client work for editorial, commercial, corporate and non-profit entities. She specializes in telling in-depth multimedia stories through still photography and recorded audio. Much of her personal work focuses on stories of Rhode Islanders. Stephanie’s work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, Elle Magazine, as well as many local publications including Rhode Island Monthly, Edible Rhody, Providence Business News and She works with esteemed local universities, nonprofits and commercial clients as well as individual artists and designers. Stephanie’s surfer photograph for her BUY ART button was shot at Narragansett Beach on a very foggy, atmospheric afternoon. View her complete gallery at

Angel Dean

Angel received her BFA from the University of Georgia and her MFA from Cornell University. Following school she went on to pursue a singing career in New York City, fronting several alt-country band recordings under the Rounder Records and Diesel Only labels.  After 14 years in Manhattan she moved to Providence and has been channeling her creative energy into the more visual domains of printmaking, collage, encaustics and photography.  Locals also know Angel as an avid gardener, dog lover, beekeeper, an epiphyllum fancier (flowering orchids), the keeper of five backyard chickens, and a long-time staff member of the Providence Art Club. Angel’s selected BUY ART image is from her white-line woodblock print titled Young Girl with Chicken. This type of printing is an early American art form in which the artist uses a single carved block with separate ink applications and printings for each color.

Delia Kovac

Delia Kovac is a multi-disciplinary artist committed to an open process with interests that span social justice, formalism, the fantastic, the bestial, and rock ‘n’ roll. She has strong beliefs in collaboration and art’s role in the greater good. Her media include drawing, printmaking, papermaking, digital video and painting. One local critic described the charm of “her somewhat offhand renderings” as being akin to “Jungian symbols embodying twin feelings of imprisonment and safety. “Kovac was born in Milwaukee, WI and received a BFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Her work is in the collections of The RISD Museum, the Zimmerli Art Museum, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and The Rhode Island Historical Society. She shows internationally including P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, The Hunterdon Art Gallery, and draw_drawing_2 at The London Biannual. Locally she has exhibited at The Wunderground Show at the RISD Museum, Craftland Gallery, Gallery Angiel and 5 Traverse. She has worked in Professional Fine art printshops on three continents, is an occasional correspondent for, and serves as a Board Member of Girls Rock! Rhode Island.

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