Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

"Surrender" by Holly Wach

“Surrender” by Holly Wach

One of my favorite things about living in Providence is meeting people who are doing what they love, and good at doing it — like Holly Wach.

A recent transplant from California, Holly hosted her first Rhode Island show last weekend out of her home studio in Providence. There, I had the chance to tour her studio, learn about her process, and see her art up close. I even purchased a print of “Surrender” pictured above. Let’s just say it reminds me of someone I know.

Holly’s art will be featured in a solo show at the Morris Gallery of Contemporary Art at Missouri Valley College this December, and she’ll be representing Rhode Island in “Figure 50 2016,” a juried online interactive map featuring one artist from every state.

You can explore some of her art on her website and sign-up to be hear about her upcoming shows.

And if you think you might have what it takes to be an artist yourself, she also offers private art lessons.

Holly Wach
Artist in Providence, RI
www.hollywach.com

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The traditional caprese salad is made even better at Roslina with burrata cheese.

The traditional caprese salad is made even better at Roslina with burrata cheese.

It wasn’t quite a Griswold Christmas Eve, but it was close. First, it was hard to get into the spirit when it was about 65 degrees on Christmas Eve as we walked downtown to see A Christmas Carol at Trinity Repertory Theatre. It got worse when we discovered we had arrived at the wrong time, and the show we had tickets for was just letting out.

Then, later that night after the girls left cookies for Santa, we discovered a bat flying through our house. And it got away.

Gnocchi, also made better with burrata.

Gnocchi, also made better with burrata.

Fortunately, our day was redeemed by a late lunch between those two events at Rosalina, which for me included a caprese salad made with burrata cheese, kumato tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil followed by gnocchi sorrentina baked with tomato, burrata and basil.

The girls both ordered the meatball sandwiches, and Geoff had the eggplant, mozzarella and marinara sandwich. Since there was no burrata in any of the desserts, we settled for some blood orange and coconut gelatos, along with a cheesecake ‘imported’ from the Carnegie Deli.

I think Geoff was a bit disappointed to skip La Vigilia (the Italian Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of Seven Fishes) – but not me. I’ll take a meal full of burrata and marinara any day, including Christmas Eve.

And things are looking up. We caught the bat. And Trinity Rep kindly helped us get tickets for another night. And it seems it’s finally freezing outside (be careful what you wish for).

Rosalina
50 Aborn Street
Providence, RI 02903
www.rosalina-ri.com

Trinity Repertory Company
201 Washington Street
Providence, RI 02903
www.trinityrep.com

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Outside The Spot

Guest post by Travis Webster-Booth, a songwriter who can often be heard at the Spot under his nom de plume, Straw Man Standing.

And that's just the beer menu...

And that’s just the beer menu…

Where can you go to relax with a beer, munch on avocado frites, and hear the music of eccentric local artists any night of the week? In Providence, that would be The Spot Underground.

I made my way there on a recent “Madcap Monday,” an organized-yet-freewheeling (and free) weekly exhibition of local acoustic music. I parked my car out back (also free) and headed up the steel stairwell with my Martin guitar, equally excited to hear the night’s entertainment as I am to strum a few songs myself.

Mike Baker, at a recent spot performance

Mike Baker, at a recent spot performance (photo credit)

The first performer, who moonlights as the house cook, warms things up with a few numbers. A bafflingly talented singer-guitarist, who might have been a grunge star 20 years ago, croons a set of classic rock songs. Barely missing a beat, an unassuming chap takes over with a hang drum, lulling the crowd into hypnotic bliss. Following him, a pair of older guys grace the stage for a harmony-laden rendition of “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” that reminds me how much I love live music. Then again, I’m used to getting my mind blown at the Spot. Several weeks earlier, a young woman got full attention of the audience with an intimate performance on a full-size harp.

When it’s my turn to play, I saunter to the stage, wind a 1/4” cable through my guitar strap, plug in, sound check, and play. I’ve become so comfortable here that I’ve debuted new songs, improvised tunes on the spot, and played with all manner of accompaniment; on one memorable occasion, a talented beat boxer spontaneously joined me on stage, adding backup vocals to boot. As a performer in Providence, you won’t find a safer or more welcoming environment.

Live painting, sometimes *during* performances, is a mainstay at The Spot.

Live painting, sometimes *during* performances, is a mainstay at The Spot.

By the end of the night, I’ve made new friends, caught up with old ones, and notched another performance in my belt. Best of all, I could do it all over again at Re:Creation Tuesday, the Spot’s iconic open mic/open jam (also free). And if I’m not in a mood to play, I can duck back in any other night of the week, when top flight bands of every imaginable genre pack the house and command the dance floor.

The Spot
101 Richmond Street
Providence, RI
www.thespotprovidence.com
(401) 383-7133

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Our first year at the Brown Street Park Halloween Parade.

Our first year at the Brown Street Park Halloween Parade.

I grew up in New York City, which meant that on Halloween, I put on a costume and trick-or-treated in my apartment building, which as I recall was a quick run through a few neighbors in brightly lit and well-heated hallways.

But in the third grade, I went to a friend’s new house on Long Island for Halloween. And that has always felt like my first real Halloween–crunching on autumn leaves in the dark, shivering in costume, and skipping from house to house to gather more candy than even I can eat.

The first year that we moved to Providence, our neighbors mentioned that there was a Halloween event at Brown Street Park, so we decided to go. Of course, we had no idea that it included free games and treats for the kids and a costume parade throughout the East Side led by Providence’s own What Cheer? Brigade. Needless to say, it was a hit, and we’ve been back every year.

This year will mark the 8th Annual Halloween Celebration and Parade at Brown Street Park, which will take place on Friday, October 31 from 4 pm-5:30 pm. For more information, visit www.friendsofbrownstreetpark.org.

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Bucket Brewery's Thirteenth Original Maple Stout combines a complex malt base, a healthy dose of maple syrup and an unusual blend of hops.

Bucket Brewery’s Thirteenth Original Maple Stout combines a complex malt base, a healthy dose of maple syrup and an unusual blend of hops.

On our weekly trips to the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market, we often stop by Bucket Brewery to pick up a “growler,” which is a 64-ounce sample of one of their beers. There’s no storefront, rather you walk right into their facility where they brew and bottle all their beers. If you show up on a Saturday between 11 am and 5 pm, you can do a tasting ($2) or take a tour ($10).

They also host Sound Check events on the first and third Fridays of the month with free admission and music, and an optional ‘generous’ tasting for $10. On Saturday April 19, Bucket Brewery will also be at the Pawtucket Farmers’ Market to introduce a special orange-cranberry beer made with local farm ingredients. And if you’re the athletic type (or want to become the athletic type), you can join them for Team Bucket, their running team for the Providence Craft Brew 5K.

And even when you’re not in Pawtucket, you can find their beers throughout Rhode Island at local bars (e.g. Aidan’s Pub, Ivy Tavern, Wild Colonial Tavern, etc.), restaurants (e.g. Chez Pascal, Farmstead, Figidini, Flatbread Company, Garden Grille), and liquor stores (e.g. Bottles).

Bucket Brewery
545 Pawtucket Ave.
Pawtucket, RI
http://bucketbrewery.com

See a complete list of the bars, restaurants and liquor stores that offer Bucket beers at http://bucketbrewery.com/whos-serving-bucket-beer/pg/1/.

Also mentioned in this post:

Aidan’s Pub
5 John Street
Bristol RI
http://aidanspub.com

Bottles
141 Pitman Street
Providence RI
www.bottlesfinewine.com

Ivy Tavern
758 Hope Street
Providence RI
www.ivytavernri.com

Wild Colonial Tavern
1250 Water Street
Providence RI
http://wildcolonial.com

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Geoff and I both grew up with the tradition of Christmas and have continued it with our girls despite the fact that we are not religious. Although our daughters know that Santa Claus isn’t real, we all love pretending during the holiday season. Here are some ways we’ve celebrated Christmas in Rhode Island…

1. Pick Your Own Christmas Tree

It’s the ultimate ‘paper versus plastic’ debate — we’ve chosen a real tree because ultimately it’s more sustainable (another tree can be grown) and so much more festive to have the smell of pine in the air. This year, we once again got our tree from Lockwood Tree Farm. Trees get collected after the holidays in Providence — don’t make the mistake of one over-eager dad who tried to burn his tree in the fireplace and nearly set his house on fire.

2. ‘Christmas’ Waterfire

Tonight (December 13), there will be a special (and as always, free) WaterFire lighting to enjoy. It really is much warmer by the glowing fires, although you’ll still need a coat, and a hat, and gloves, and a scarf.

3. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Providence Ballet also will put on a performance tonight (December 13) at Rhode Island College of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

4. Christmas at a Mansion

Somehow seeing someone else’s house decked out in holiday spirit can be as satisfying (and a lot easier) than your own. Christmas at The Newport Mansions continues through January 5. I personally love to visit Blithewold, a 45-room English style manor house adorned with holiday decorations. Don’t forget to stop in the Carriage House where the “Gingerbread Wonderland” features mini-gingerbread houses of all styles made by area children. And right in Providence, you can visit the John Brown House Museum‘s Home for the Holidays.

5. A Christmas Carol

The Trinity Repertory Theater has certainly perfected its performance of the classic Dickens tale. The show has moments that can be scarier for children, although of course we were brave (or stupid) enough to bring our two-year-old one year. Let’s just say, it was a good thing we packed plenty of lollipops. Anyway, the show kept all of us mesmerized. I also recently discovered there’s another production of A Christmas Carol featuring Big Nazo puppets, which is definitely on my list to check out.

6. The Nutcracker

Festival Ballet's Nutcracker

Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker

Festival Ballet puts on a stellar performance of The Nutcracker at the Providence Performing Arts Center. For next year, you might also consider the Island Moving Co.‘s performance at one of the Newport Mansions, Rosecliff.

7. Gingerbread Houses and Holiday Cookies

Of course, a great way to celebrate is to make your own or build a gingerbread house (or village as the girls did this year) at home. There are also several decorating events and contests (everything’s a contest apparently) throughout the state. Check out the Decorate Your Own Gingerbread Man event on December 21, 2013 at the Smith-Abbleby House Museum in Smithfield, RI. The Ocean House in Westerly also hosts a Gingerbread Village Competition and Reception on December 16, 2013.

8. Ski, Skate and Sled

There are plenty of indoor and outdoor skating options throughout the state, including the Kennedy Plaza rink in Providence. If we actually get enough snow, you’ll probably find us sledding on the East Side. We still haven’t been, but there’s kid-friendly skiing in Yawgoo Valley Ski and Sports Area in Exeter, RI.

9. Shop Local

Two years ago, I came up with a list of great places to shop locally for children’s gifts. There are also guides to Shop Downcity and the Shops at Hope Street, which includes stores like Kreatelier which has wonderful hand-made items for adults and children.

While you’re shopping, get into the spirit by donating gifts at any one of the local toy drives: Children’s Friend or Toys for Tots (Whisky Republic in Providence is accepting gift donations today December 13), for instance.

10. Holiday Pops

Last but not least, tonight the Boston Pops comes down to Providence Performing Arts Center for a special local performance. We went years ago without children when we were living in Boston. I think older children (especially aspiring musicians) certainly would appreciate the performance.

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We’ve now lived in Providence for over four years, and it would be hard to fit in one blog post all my thoughts about that. So instead, I thought I’d describe an eventful, but fairly typical Saturday, which as it turns out, might be a perfect way to highlight our life in Providence.

8:28 am – We woke up “late” for us, which meant we had to rush to get the girls ready for gymnastics and ballet at Aim High Academy, where dozens of gymnasts were already hard at work.

10:00 am – We head to Allie’s Donuts–an institution for good reason. A donut cake (exactly what it sounds like) has been ordered for one of our daughter’s birthday this month.

11:15 am – We make our way to the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market opening day. This year’s market has more than doubled, and it is every bit better. We all sit in the courtyard and have Tallulah’s Tacos for lunch. The girls make a basket at ACKpack Basket Studio. Michele buys a giant stalk of brussels sprouts, freshly dug potatoes, onions, and parsnips from the market, along with apples from Barden Family Orchard. Our daughter insists we buy more pickles from Harmony Hill Farm. We get dessert–an almond croissant and an apricot financier–from the French Tarte. On our way out, we discover a new store, Sassy Mama Cuisine, that has rows upon rows of hot sauces. I’m looking for one made with Bhut jolokia, and pick from more than a dozen.

2:00 pm – I nap.

3:30 pm – I take my six-year-old daughter to Cirque Éloize, one of the first shows in this year’s FirstWorks Festival at the Providence Performing Arts Center, while Michele takes our two-year old to the Providence Children’s Museum.

6:00 pm – At home,  I make the kids a pizza with dough from Olga’s and cheese from Narragansett Creamery.

7:30 pm – Michele and I walk downtown to the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Theatre, to see a production of Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Since we didn’t buy tickets in advance, we wait standby and luckily get seats from a few no-shows. Even after four years of shows, it’s my first time in the Pell Chafee Performance Center.

9:30 pm – We get drinks and appetizers at Gracie’s, which turned out to be a meal that would rival the best in recent memory: a sherry-roasted beet salad with Cloumage cheese, pistachio nougatine, wild rice crispies, sour apple, and Aquidneck honey; Hudson Valley foie gras with fennel dusted brioche donuts, roasted peach, pistachio, raspberry gelee; russet potato gnocchi with house cured ham, broccoli, cauliflower, cheddar, buttery herb crumb; and crispy veal sweetbreads with sunny side quail’s egg, parmesan spinach, potato fondue, pickled ramps (this one was a standout).

10:30 pm – Our babysitter needs to leave early tonight, so Michele grabs a cab home. I stay on, for a show at AS220.

12:00 am – The band Melt Banana plays in AS220’s tiny venue, where you can get up close and mingle with the bands.

1:00 am – I take an UberX ride home! Just 2 minutes after calling…

I’ve always thought that a perfect city is one that you can “use” to its fullest regularly. And with that as my definition, I’m in the right place for now…

For more information:

Aim High Academy
3355 S County Trail
East Greenwich, RI
http://www.aimhighacademy.com/

Allie’s Donuts
3661 Quaker Lane
North Kingstown, RI
https://www.facebook.com/AlliesDonuts

Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market (Saturdays 9 am-1pm and Wednesdays 4-7pm through May 17, 2014)
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI
http://www.farmfresh.org/winter

Tallulah on Thames
464 Thames Street
Newport, RI
http://www.tallulahonthames.com/

Sassy Mama Cuisine
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI

The French Tarte
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI
http://www.frenchtarte.com/

ACKpack Basket Studio
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI
https://www.facebook.com/pages/ACKpack-Basket-Studio/467747816608744

Barden Family Orchard
56 Elmdale Rd
North Scituate, RI
http://www.bardenfamilyorchard.com/

Harmony Hill Farm
Barrington, RI
http://harmonyhill-farm.com/

Providence Performing Arts Center
220 Weybosset Street
Providence, RI
http://www.ppacri.org/

FirstWorks
http://first-works.org/

Providence Children’s Museum
100 South Street
Providence, RI
www.childrenmuseum.org

Olga’s Cup & Saucer
103 Point Street
Providence, RI
www.olgascupandsaucer.com

Narragansett Creamery
www.richeeses.com

Brown University/Trinity Repertory Theatre
www.browntrinity.com

Gracie’s
194 Washington Street
Providence, RI
graciesprovidence.com

AS220
115 Empire Street
Providence, RI
www.as220.org

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