HousEART is a community-wide transformative art project.  It connects artists with neighborhood volunteers in order to bring life and color to foreclosed, vacant houses.  The story of HousEART is one of cooperation, communication and transformation.

During 2008 and the beginning of 2009 Smith Hill Community Development Corporation acquired many vacant and foreclosed properties on Smith Hill.  All these properties are currently being renovated into affordable rental housing as part of a tax credit project titled, Visions II.  Visions II will have a profound impact on Smith Hill by returning over 50 units of quality rental housing to the neighborhood.  A project of this scope required much pre-development work before any renovations could get started, subsequently there was a significant time-lag between acquisition and rehab.

HousEART was designed to fill this void between acquisition and renovation.  Artists were invited to bring these properties to life and celebrate the positive changes that were soon to take place.  The art is inherently temporary.  In fact, there is only evidence of two projects still in the neighborhood, as the properties are all under construction.  HousEART connected artists with neighborhood volunteers to form a design team for individual houses.

2009 – Smith Hill Origins

In the late spring of 2009, Smith Hill CDC put out  a call for local artists to use a few of the vacant houses in our portfolio as a canvas for their work and to showcase the hope embodied by these empty, run-down buildings which were slated for complete rehabilitation in in 2011.

16 Bernon St.

The first HousEART project is at 16 Bernon St. by Smith Hill artist, Lydia Stein.   The mural depicts wooden carousel horses coming to life and breaking free.   As the animals evolve over the 60 linear feet of house that comprises the canvas, a deeply personal story reveals itself.  In the artist’s own words, this piece employs “simple, bold shapes and strong imagery, to produce an artwork quickly with the help of neighbors and volunteers that emphasizes the power of the transformative and liberative experience.” Ms. Stein’s Biography

515 Chalkstone Ave.

Providence-based reductive artist, Lynne Harlow’s project is located at 515 Chalkstone Ave.  The work was done on a beautiful Sunday in August with the help of another artist, Rebecca Zub, and a few neighborhood volunteers, including Arianna and Gabriella (Ari & Gabbi).  In 2011, Ms. Harlow won a prestigious, MacColl Johnson Fellowship Award for Visual Arts from the RI Foundation for her entire body of work.  Her515 Chalkstone Ave. HousEART project was featured on the official award announcement.  Learn more here at the RI Foundation’s webpage.

9 Osborn St.

Artist/Designer Michelle Peckham’s work often explores the existing conditions of buildings and place, focusing on the details that foster inspiration.

This theme of Ms. Peckham’s HousEART project at 9 Osborn St incorporates her belief that music is a powerful, hopeful act in the same way the the restored property will be a powerful act in the context of the community.

The 9 Osborn project is inspired by a Duke Ellington quote, ” I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues. ”

2011 – HousEART Goes Statewide!

Smith Hill CDC is proud to support the continued extension of HousEART throughout the State of Rhode Island.  HousEART began on Smith Hill as a CVC initiative and local artist, Lydia Stein, has taken the reigns and grown the program for the past two years!

For the thrid summer in a row, the HousEART Project will be producing large-scale, high quality temporary art on foreclosed homes. This year HousEART will extend beyond Providence to include neighborhoods in other parts of Rhode Island. We are hoping to produce ten HousEART projects in a short time this summer, and are looking for artists to direct each of the HousEART artworks.

*Artists will receive a $400 stipend

*An entire house slated for rehab or demolition will be your canvas. Many of the properties have boarded windows, to create a very big surface. Painting, sculpting, stencils, postering—anything goes!

*Teens from the neighborhood of the respective HousEART projects will be recruited to assist the artists for a $150 stipend. Each artist will work with 1-2 teen assistants.

*Artworks are restricted to imagery without text. Supplies will be acquired inexpensively or by donation. This is an exciting opportunity to create artwork in a very large, public forum on a temporary surface. While HousEART offers near-complete artistic liberty to participating artists, they are encouraged to consider the temporary nature of the HousEART and the interests of the community when designing their project.

*Interested artists should email Lydia Stein at with a brief proposal for your project, with the subject-heading HOUSEART. Submissions will be accepted through July 22. Projects will be created in August.

HousEART Providence, 2010

Lydia Stein has taken HousEART citywide and she has started her first project of the summer!  Located at 63 Kossuth Street, the house is across from William D’Abate Elementary School.  Anthony Resto, age 20, worked with Ms. Stein and these pictures  represent the first day’s progress.

Lydia Stein and her HousEART artists and community volunteers have just recently finished up their 2010 season with a tremendous amount of support and involvement from a wide variety of organizations and residents here in The City of Providence.  To see all of the new high quality art work Lydia and her team have recently completed, please click here.

HousEART Accolades and Updates

March 2010, Rhode Island State Council of the Arts Grant

Smith Hill resident and 16 Bernon St. HousEARTist, Lydia Stein, has received a grant from the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts to bring HousEART to other Providence neighborhoods.  This incredible opportunity will engage teams of artists and community residents in a series of temporary public art displays directly on some of the most blighted houses in the city.

February 2010,  HousEART Project nominated for “Best Community Art Project in New England

Lydia Stein’s Smith Hill CDC sponsored HousEART project on 16 Bernon St. has been nominated for a 2009 New England Art Award by the prestigious New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, in the category of “Public Exposure Art” which includes public performance, sculpture, street art, etc…  This regional competition is further evidence that the HousEART community-based, public art project has been successful in its efforts at shifting the paradigm of vacant houses in our neighborhood from just another example of urban blight to one of positivity.  Smith Hill CDC would like to thank Lydia Stein for all of her hard work in the summer of ‘09 as well as all the neighborhood residents that helped her on this truly impressive and unique project.

We would also like to thank Christian Caldarone for all of his hard work put into the HousEART Project. Without his efforts, this project would not have went statewide in it’s prime! Smith Hill CDC is currently working with a select few partners to revive this initiative into 2017. Stay tuned!!!!!

Click here to view some HousEART Press