Bristol Warren Art Nights: A Newbie's Guide

Hop on the trolley and take in The Bay's artistic bounty


Last May, Claire Rochambault, 64, got into her little white rusted Toyota Corolla and putt-putted down Route 103 from Somerset into Warren, not knowing a Degas from a dagger, a Matisse from a mattress. Her niece Maria came along just to make sure she didn’t get lost. “My aunt wanted to see some local art. She wanted to meet some artists and maybe sip a tiny bit of wine. She wanted to ride a trolley; she hadn’t lived her life. Art Night was a start,” she says. “I enjoyed it, too.”

On select Thursdays from May through October, cool chardonnay and sumptuous cheese meet the warmth of burnt umber on canvas as Bristol and Warren artists, galleries, museums and businesses open their doors to showcase the arts of the vibrant East Bay community.

“These events are a perfect way for art lovers of all ages and expertise to experience the wide variety of art created and practiced by those who live or work in Bristol and Warren,” says Richard Wilbur, a member of the communications committee.

Visitors can experience the Bristol-Warren Art Nights in a variety of ways: on foot, on bicycle or via the #60 RIPTA bus line that stops in both towns. There is plenty of free parking as well.

“For first-timers, we recommend an added experience: a seat on one of the two Art Night trolley tour buses, which run from 5:30 to about 9pm during every Art Night Gallery and Open Studio event,” explains Richard. Passengers with reservations are driven from stop to stop, and returned to their trolley bus’s point of departure at the end of the evening.

Each trolley ride offers music, performances and tour guides who show riders every featured artist space in Bristol and Warren, and each tour is completely free. There are also demonstrations and light refreshments along the way, including wine samplings at various event locations. Each month features a host of new art experiences.

“With music, food and the chance to visit stores located in these historic East Bay towns, first-timers and frequent visitors can learn about art and the artists who call the area home while exploring the many storefronts that help make Warren and Bristol great places to live and shop,” says Donna Personeus, marketing and communications committee chair.

The Bristol-Warren Art Nights were established in 2011 to provide a support structure for the community of artists who work or live there, and has only grown in popularity from year to year.

“Our goal is to help expose the public to the wide range of artistic styles and creativity found in our beautiful communities, and to link our members and the amazing work they do with the residents of Rhode Island and beyond,” Donna says. “Business and art each play a vital role in the health of any community, and our programs bring the two together for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.”

“In addition, for visitors new to the East Bay, Art Night Gallery and Open Studio events are a great way to become acquainted with the local businesses, night and cultural life each town offers and to plan for return visits, ” explains Richard.

“They wanted to take my picture... you can’t do that,” says camera-shy Claire, “but I sure wanted to take theirs. I wanted a photograph of the photographers, especially that dashing Steve in Bristol along the water.” The Steve she mentions is internationally renowned fine artist Stephan Brigidi, whose grand shop is at 4 Franklin Street at Thames, a popular stop on the Art Night tour.

Once newbies to Art Night, Claire and her niece Maria now have a wide-ranging appreciation for locally made creations and the artists who construct them. “We’ll be back,” they say, and this time with a little more artistic knowledge under their belts.

Bristol-Warren Art Night
Every fourth Thursday of the month
May until October
30 Cutler Street, Warren
125 Thames Street, Bristol

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