Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) today is excited to announce the collaboration between the community and The Avenue Concept, Rhode Island’s leading public art organization, for a pilot project that has brought art to the campus of the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School.
“As a proud alumnus of Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, and as an educator, and now the Councilman for Ward 1, I am thrilled to work with The Avenue Concept to bring beauty, art, and inspiration to the campus of the school as the kids start school this fall” stated Councilman John Goncalves. “There is a proverb that says: Where there is no vision, the people shall perish. I believe that rings true, and we need to have visionary partners like The Avenue Concept and Vartan Gregorian parents to help invest in our community spaces. This investment helps lift spirits, sparks joy, and gives our families and children pride in place.”
The pilot program, which has been completed was supported by Councilman Goncalves Neighborhood Infrastructure Funding, the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School PTO, and other community benefactors reimagines the front entrance of the school. The project includes a vinyl geometric fox (the school’s mascot) mural, designed by Myles Dumas, on the front doors and the repainting of the school’s front bench, planter border, and the planting of a new magnolia tree. Using bright and bold colors, The Avenue Concept and their design team will give the space new life.
“Projects like these are a win-win because they help highlight the value that both public art and public schools bring to our communities,” said Yarrow Thorne, founder and executive director of The Avenue Concept. “By enlivening the built environment around the school, we enhance the experience for students, teachers, and staff, and draw attention to the school from the surrounding community, encouraging all to engage with this public space.”
The Community Team for this project includes Yarrow Thorne, Executive Director of The Avenue Concept, Myles Dumas, Design Director at NAIL and the Vartan Gregorian parent who designed the geometric fox, Matthew Russo, Principal of Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, Jack Rusley, Co-Chair of Building and Grounds Committee and a VG Parent, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School PTO, Amy Mendillo of the Fox Point Neighborhood Association and a VG Parent, Vin Scorziello of the Fox Point Merchants Association, and Councilman John Goncalves. The team has a vision for not just the school but also areas adjacent to the school.
“Our school community is proud that this unique design is representative of the Fox Point Neighborhood,” stated Principal Matthew Russo. “We are fortunate to have such a supportive PTO that is committed to enriching the lives of every student at Vartan Gregorian Elementary School.”
Councilman Goncalves has also supported projects improving the inner appearance of the school, in particular the transformation of the inner courtyard of the school into a functional outdoor classroom, an effort lead by Vartan Gregorian parent and Co-Chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, Naz Firoz. “With fresh air more important than ever for children as they start school this fall, professional landscaping was necessary to clear invasive vines and overgrown trees from classroom windows and doors opening into the inner courtyard, and Councilman Goncalves was instrumental in making this happen. We are lucky to have such engaged parents, a supportive principal, and enthusiastic community leaders such as Councilman Goncalves and The Avenue Concept who want to improve the student experience not only now, but also for the future. I know that big changes take time, and these small but significant steps will help build momentum as we continue to move forward with other projects.”
The Avenue Concept is now raising funds for additional projects, including a new design of the school’s side entrance, which would include painting the new doors and creating a selfie wall that would make students feel empowered and have a little more fun at drop-off and pick-up. The third project would be at the corner entrance, where artists will transform the cement benches into whimsical mosaics using ceramic tiles to cover the benches. The fourth project would be to create a new large-scale mural by a professional muralist on the East Street Side of the School. The final bonus project would be to repaint the school’s electric boxes and dumpsters to turn these drab objects into stunning works of arts.
If you are interested in supporting these additional projects, visit The Avenue Concept and please donate online at and in the notes write “VG Public Art.”