#VRA2013 Twitterstorm

Our Social Networking Contributer, Krystal Boehlert (@kboehlert on Twitter), has created a Storify from the conference, which allows you to see some of the social media posts, images and conversations that took place during the conference.

Check out: the Visual Resources Association Annual Conference in Providence, RI on Storify!

Posted in VRA 31 | Leave a comment

Explore Providence: The State House

82 Smith St., 401-222-3983

Not to be confused with the Old State House (a Benefit Street attraction), the Rhode Island State House is a neoclassical building located just to the north of the downtown area — not far from the Providence Biltmore. Home to the Rhode Island General Assembly and the offices of the governor of Rhode Island, this McKim, Mead, and White project was completed in 1904. 50-minute tours are available on weekdays, featuring stops at the Bell Room, with a replica of the Liberty Bell; the State Room, where you can see one of Gilbert Stuart’s famous George Washington portraits; and the Rotunda, featuring the fourth-largest self-supporting marble dome on earth.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Providence | Leave a comment

Shopping in Providence: East Side

College Hill
Across the river and up the hill from the Providence Biltmore Hotel, Thayer Street runs through the middle of Brown University. A hangout for students from RISD and Brown, here you will find a funky college vibe with vintage shops, indie stores, chain stores like Urban Outfitters, eateries, etc. A small selection:

What Cheer?, 80 Angell St. (Corner of Thayer and Angell, Upstairs), 401-861-4244. Sells Vinyl Records + CDs + Antiques + Vintage Stuff. From a shopper’s review: “This little place is like stepping down into a secret room that only you and a few other special people know about. It’s one of the only antique/collectibles shops I’ve ever seen with a really great paper ephemera collection– menus, postcards, letterhead, etc. They also have a really good selection of vintage eyeglasses, and adorably organized little bits and baubs like old hotel keys, key chains, furniture hardware, and game pieces.”

Spectrum-India Inc, 252 Thayer St., 401-421-1010. Indian imports and and an array of other interesting items. The owner seems to be universally adored by local shoppers. “If you’re looking for an experience… have Jagdish do your handwriting analysis right there in the shop – $15 or something. You’ll be asked to meditate for a little while in a chair in the back before you write freely, plus write your ABC’s. Then you hang behind the counter and off he goes, mostly from memory but he refers to cards as well to explain how he’s reaching his interpretations. Anyone’s who’s been in the shop knows the man is masterfully intuitive, genuine, and also intense, so that all applies here.”

Pleasant Surprise, 297 Thayer St., 401-273-1202. “Always an eclectic mix of fun gifts, home accessories, quirky books, cards, and toys. Our design sensibility combines the contemporary with the nostalgic.”

South Main Street
South Main Street is at the base of College Hill. John’s previous post pointed us to a Boston Globe article highlighting the eclectic shopping experience here. You might also want to watch this video from the South Main Street Neighborhood Association.

Marc Allen Fine Clothiers, 200 South Main St., 401-453-0025. High end men’s store offering custom-made suits and ready to wear pieces of the highest quality style and craftsmanship.

Shoppe Pioneer, 253 South Main St., 401-274-7467. “A fashion and lifestyle boutique featuring indie designers, contemporary & vintage fashion and hand picked treasures”

 Hegeman & Co., 361 South Main St., 401-831-6812. Fine jewelry, including custom design and craftsmanship on nearly any style in the store; includes estate and designer pieces.

Wickenden Street
Also south of College Hill and to the east of South Main is the Fox Point neighborhood. Wickenden Street packs loads of independent shops, art galleries, and restaurants into a surprisingly small space. From an article by Jan Faust Dane: “It is a narrow and compact strip, about 1/3 of a mile from stem to stern. If you wanted to throw the ultimate, but walkable, scavenger hunt, this is where you’d do it. You couldn’t get obscure enough: “‘bring me one guppy, a towel rod, a tube of indigo gouache, two peonies, an eel sushi roll and a picture of yourself with a bronze bust of George M. Cohan.’ That would take about eleven minutes.”

Examples of some of the interesting shops you’ll find there:

Adler’s Hardware, 173 Wickenden St., 401-421-5157. A longstanding family business, Adler’s features the predictable hardware staples, but also to home design supplies that include fine decorative hardware, wallpaper, fabrics, and C2 paints.

The Curatorium, 197 Wickenden St., 401-453-4080. “Part design store, part Natural History Museum, part small-town gift shop, The Curatorium offers something for everyone, and gifts for all occasions, in all price ranges.

Curiosities, 460 Wickenden St., 401-421-0023. “Among the many curious items found here is one-of-a-kind costume and vintage beaded jewelry. Also, old photos or “Instant Relatives”, records, ephemera and lots more!” From a Yelp review: “Entering Curiosities is a little like entering a shop if it was run by someone who was once on the show Hoarders.”

Small Circle, 464 Wickenden St., 401-437-8338. “A community marketplace of 100% locally made products.”

Olympic Records, 580 Wickenden St., 401-301-9266. This record store sells vinyl only, specializing in “new and used indie rock and the like.”  Bring some quarters for their vintage pinball machines.

Posted in Providence, Shopping | Leave a comment

Shopping in Providence: West Side

Providence has lots of unique stores and boutiques to suit every shopper’s tastes. The options downtown are within easy walking distance of the Biltmore, while Federal Hill is a quick cab ride or a more vigorous walk to the west.

Downtown
The colorful array of shops and boutiques that have appeared in downtown Providence recent years bear witness to the revitalization of Downcity. A sampling:

Heir, 65 Eddy St., 401-331-5680. “Antiques, art, and covetable goods.” An eclectic offering of folk art, industrial objects, and vintage pieces mixed with new items such as high-end bags, candles, and art books.

Noon, 75 Weybosset St., 401-455-1222. “Unique local handmade jewelry, letterpress cards and goods.”

WHARF Clothing & Wares, 212 Westminster St., 401-272-1231. High quality men’s clothing in classic styles.

Craftland, 235 Westminster St., 401-272-4285. “Downtown shop and gallery specializing in unique, handmade objects and the people who make them.”

Symposium Books, 240 Westminster St., 401-273-7900. An independent bookstore. “We are proud to have excellent Art, Architecture, Design, and Photography sections, as well as academic books (huge Philosophy section!), Literature/Fiction, Children’s/Young Adult, Film, Poetry, Lit Crit, GLBT, Travel Writing, and more. Our Graphic Novel section is the best in town!”

Providence Place Mall, One Providence Place, 401-270-1000. Need to find the big department stores and shops in the area? This is a huge mall with all of the mainstream staples, located just across the river to the northeast of the Biltmore.

Federal Hill

Ada Books, 717 Westminster St., 401-432-6222. A cozy, inviting bookstore that includes used books; literary and cultural magazines like Adbusters, McSweeney’s, and The Believer; and a good selection of zines, comics, and graphic novels.

Analog Underground, 504 Broadway, 401-274-4123. Mostly a vinyl shop (the per capita music stores offering vinyl selections tells you something about the sensibilities of the Providence music scene); also offers a small selection of CDs and even cassettes. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff makes this a great place to browse for the unexpected.

Armageddon Shop, 436 Broadway, 401-521-6667. Specializing in underground metal, punk, hardcore, and grindcore, with a selection of other genres and styles. Includes vinyl, CDs, and more.

Diva’s Palace, 299 Atwells Ave., 401-831-0148. From the Best of Rhode Island 2009 Editors’ Picks: “There seems to be a real reverence for glamour at Diva’s Palace, where the two Michaels are designing one-of-a-kind pieces for the bold and beautiful. Try on one of their Valentino-inspired bustier tops, a brocade coat, or any of their eighties-inspired dresses, and let them fuss over how it flatters you. Chances are, with their interesting use of draping and detail, it does.”

Rocket To Mars, 144 Broadway, 401-274-0905. The creative window displays are just a start. Step inside for a great selection of quality vintage housewares, furniture, clothing, and other random items. Who knows, maybe you’ll find that orange wall-mount rotary telephone you’ve been seeking, or a roll of Smurf wallpaper.

Posted in Providence, Shopping | Leave a comment

VRA*31: Providence Dining

Consistently recognized as an interesting and exciting city for food—from Four-star to French to Food Trucks, Providence offers a variety of appealing cuisine with varying price points both in immediate proximity to the Providence Biltmore hotel and within a short walk or ride.

Any given area of the city will have plenty of offerings to satisfy your appetite, taste buds, and wallet. Keep in mind that many upscale restaurants offer an affordable lunch menu, including all those steakhouses near the statehouse. While Rhode Island law prohibits Happy Hour-style drink specials, many restaurants offer appetizer specials in the early evening hours.

Yes, there will be a guide for conference attendees but start salivating now…

Downtown (often called “DownCity”) offers a dizzying array of dining destinations all within a five-minute walk:

East Side (literally just across the river) offers many options along North and South Main Street in the oldest section of Providence and through the heart of the RISD campus, all within a five-to-ten minute walk.

Federal Hill, aka Providence’s Little Italy, is west from the Biltmore and can be reached in ten-to-fifteen minutes by foot (not unsafe, but crossing past the convention center and over I-95), a very short taxi, or the public trolley. With back-to-back restaurants lining both sides of Atwells Avenue (striped down the middle in red, white, and green), it is one of the largest intact Italian neighborhoods in the US. Resisting gentrification where you’re as likely to hear Italian as English, Federal Hill is still more Sinatra than “Jersey Shore”. With too many restaurants to cover here, visit the Federal Hill website and mouse over the Dining tab to begin to understand why tourists and residents alike stroll under the La Pigna archway and savor menus transported from and inspired by the old country.

Need more?!? A budding restaurant and bar scene is springing up in the nearby Jewelry District (15-minute walk south of the hotel) with best-restaurant contender CAV; Thayer Street near Brown University (20-minute walk east *up* College Hill or trolley) offers more restaurants including Andrea’s (Greek), Soban (Korean), Cafe Paragon, Meeting Street Cafe, and arguably the best tea and coffee in the city at both Tealuxe and Blue State Coffee; and Wickenden Street (25 minutes by foot) at the base of College Hill boasts some of the best pizza at Fellini Pizzeria, great suds at The Point Tavern where you can have dinner delivered, A Taste of India, Angkor (Cambodian), Z Bar and Grille, Sakura Japanese and Sushi Bar, Abyssinia (Ethiopian), and The Duck & Bunny snuggery (look it up).

For further impressions or Foodie-level research, check out Yelp’s interactive restaurant guide based on the location of the Providence Biltmore.

Posted in Dining, Providence | Leave a comment

Explore Offbeat Providence

Looking for something a little different? This is your town — its history and culture are so full of interestingly unique and quirky elements that what might be considered off the beaten track elsewhere is par for the course here.

Cable Car Cinema & Cafe
204 South Main St., 401-272-3970
Sit in a couch and drink a beer while watching a great movie at this small, intimate art-house theater specializing in foreign and indie films. Dine in the cafe first and make a night of it. Its concessions include healthier options and fresh locally-made pastries, along with the movie theater usuals and all-you-can-eat popcorn. Monday nights are discount night.

The Edna Lawrence Nature Lab
13 Waterman Street, 401-454-6451, nature@risd.edu
The Rhode Island School of Design’s natural history collection, founded in 1937, is a virtual wunderkammer of taxidermy, shells, skeletons, and even some live animals. Its mission as a teaching resource is to provide RISD students with “the opportunity to examine and explore the patterns, structures and interactions of design in nature.” Note that the visitor policy states that “the general public is welcome to visit, with permission of a curator,” so be sure to call or e-mail ahead.

Annmary Brown Memorial
21 Brown Street, 401-863-2942
Note that the building hours are Mon. – Fri. 1:00 to 5:00pm
Rush Hawkins, a wealthy and eccentric collector of art and incunabula, built this large mausoleum for his beloved wife, Annmary Brown, following her death in 1903 from pneumonia. Three of the four rooms feature selections from his collection of art and other items (the rare books that were originally included have subsequently been moved to the John Hay Library), while the fourth room provides the final resting place for both Annmary and Rush. Now owned by Brown University, visitors will find the door open weekday afternoons. Hawkins’ endowment stipulates that every year on March 9, Annmary’s birthday, flowers are to be laid on her grave and left there until the following year.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Providence | Leave a comment

VRA*31: Fleet Library at Rhode Island School of Design

The following open house and two tour options of the Fleet Library at Rhode Island School of Design have been arranged for attendees of the 31st VRA Annual Conference in Providence, Rhode Island.

Walking directions from the Providence Biltmore: http://goo.gl/maps/Ku3Kn

LIBRARY OPEN HOUSE:
Fleet Library at Rhode Island School of Design.
15 Westminster St. http://library.risd.edu/

Founded in 1878, the RISD Library is one of the oldest independent art college libraries in the country. In the summer of 2006, the Library moved into a new facility in the first two floors of the former Rhode Island Hospital Trust bank. The magnificent banking hall serves as the library’s main reading room, while the second floor accommodates a new reading room for Archives and Special Collections as well as expanded space for the Visual Resources, Materials, and Picture Collections. The Fleet Library was recently called America’s Most Beautiful College Library, http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-most-beautiful-college-libraries, and One of 50 Most Amazing Libraries in the World, http://www.pbn.com/RISDs-Fleet-Library-named-one-of-50-most-amazing-in-world,85705.
View the Fleet Library brochure: http://library.risd.edu/pdfs/fleetlibraryrisd.pdf
Watch the Fleet Library video: http://bcove.me/av1gioc9

—> Simply present your conference badge to visit the library on your own.

LIBRARY GUIDED TOURS:

Fleet Library as Adaptive Reuse. Director of Library Services Carol Terry will tour the library and detail the history of the building from its origin as a bank to an acclaimed case of adaptive reuse as RISD’s library. Each tour limited to 15 people, meet at 15 Westminster St. SIGN-UP REQUIRED.

  • Wednesday, April 3, 9:00-10:00am
  • Thursday, April 4, 8:00-9:00am

Fleet Library Special Collections. Special Collections Librarian Laurie Whitehill Chong will present samples from the noteworthy Artists’ Book Collection of 1400 multiples, hand-made book objects, and limited edition books. Tour limited to 20 people, meet at 15 Westminster St. SIGN-UP REQUIRED.

  • Wednesday, April 3, 10:00-11:00am

—> Sign up for these library guided tours: http://www.doodle.com/64bt8zma58bps5f8.

 

Posted in Tours, VRA 31 | Leave a comment

Explore Providence: The Athenaeum

251 Benefit St., 401-421-6970
Housed in an 1838 Greek Revival building designed by Philadelphia architect William Strickland, the Athenaeum is an independent, member-supported library — one of the oldest in the nation. While only members may borrow materials, the “Ath” is open to the public, and visitors are warmly welcomed by its knowledgeable staff. Immerse yourself in another era among the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, marble busts of writers, and the old card catalog. Self-guided tours will help you learn about the treasures that fill every nook and cranny of this venerable Providence institution. You’ll soon see why this was one of Edgar Allen Poe’s favorite hangouts when he was in town courting the poet Sarah Helen Whitman.

While steeped in history, the Athenaeum is not stuck there. NPR stated that it’s “a 19th-century library with the soul of a 21st-century rave party. In fact, the Rhode Island institution has been called a national model for civic engagement.” With innovative programs that includes fascinating salons and lunches with librarians, the Athenaeum is committed to preserving its past, while helping to build the future of its place within the community.

See the Athenaeum on your visit to Benefit Street.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Providence, Tours | Leave a comment

VRA*31: Open House Collections

The following Open House options have been arranged for attendees of the 31st VRA Annual Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. In close proximity to the Providence Biltmore conference hotel, visit the following collections on your own and gain free entry with your conference badge.

 

Fleet Library at Rhode Island School of Design. 15 Westminster St. http://library.risd.edu/

Founded in 1878, the RISD Library is one of the oldest independent art college libraries in the country. In the summer of 2006, the Library moved into a new facility in the first two floors of the former Rhode Island Hospital Trust bank. The magnificent banking hall serves as the library’s main reading room, while the second floor accommodates a new reading room for Archives and Special Collections as well as expanded space for the Visual Resources, Materials, and Picture Collections. The Fleet Library was recently called America’s Most Beautiful College Library, http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-most-beautiful-college-libraries, and One of 50 Most Amazing Libraries in the World, http://www.pbn.com/RISDs-Fleet-Library-named-one-of-50-most-amazing-in-world,85705.
View the Fleet Library brochure: http://library.risd.edu/pdfs/fleetlibraryrisd.pdf
Watch the Fleet Library video: http://bcove.me/av1gioc9

 

Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design, aka RISD Museum. Entrances at 20 N. Main St. and 224 Benefit St. http://www.risdmuseum.org

With 86,000 objects housed in its six stories throughout five buildings, the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art offers a broad range of works across centuries and civilizations. With recent acclaim by The New York Times and Travel + Leisure magazine as a not-to-be-missed destination, the 135-year-old institution’s collection ranges from ancient Roman, Egyptian and Greek artifacts to mid-century modern Eames furniture and Frank Lloyd Wright stained-glass windows. Its newest addition, opened in 2008, is the 6,000-square-foot Chace Center designed by Rafael Moneo. Although the Asian and Textiles galleries are closed for renovation until 2014, Current Exhibitions and Permanent Collections galleries remain on view, http://www.risdmuseum.org/exhibitions-current.aspx.

While at the museum, visit risd|works—the gallery and design showroom featuring work by the Rhode Island School of Design alumni and faculty. Behind every item featured—from mass-produced objects to fine art—is the mind and hand of a RISD artist. Receive a 10% discount with conference badge.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Providence, Tours | Leave a comment

VRA*31: Guided Tours

The following guided tour options have been arranged for attendees of the 31st VRA Annual Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. Continuing successful formats from recent years, the tour offerings are designed to maximize your experience of one of America’s most historic, scenic, and walkable cities.

All guided tours are free of charge. Unless specified, tours do not require registration and will gather in the lobby of the Providence Biltmore. Tour times reflect a maximum duration and include walking to/from the beginning and end of the tour from the hotel.


Guided Walking Tours

  • Wednesday, April 3, 7:30-9:00am. Downtown Providence led by Dietrich Neumann.
    This walking tour will present a few of the most significant buildings and public sculptures at the heart of Providence from the 18th to the 21st Century. We will discuss the Providence Renaissance with its creation of Waterplace Park and the re-opening of the rivers and see splendid examples of historic preservation and rehabilitation.
  • Thursday, April 4, 7:30-9:00am. Brown University campus led by Dietrich Neumann.
    This tour will visit the campus and a number of individual buildings of one of America’s oldest colleges, dating from the 18th to the 21st Century, including works by McKim Mead and White, Philip Johnson and Diller & Scofidio. We will also see one of Richard Upjohn’s late Gothic Revival Churches, St.Stevens of 1862. Please note: this tour will involve scaling and descending the considerable elevation of College Hill.
  • Friday, April 5, 12:00-1:30pm. Rhode Island School of Design campus led by Andrew Martinez.
    This tour highlights the 135-year history of RISD as it relates to the historic and significant buildings on the RISD campus.

Self-guided Walking Tours

 

About our tour guides:

Dietrich Neumann is Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Brown University and is a former president of the Society of Architectural Historians and one of the principals on the SAHARA grant.

Andrew Martinez is Archivist at the Rhode Island School of Design and is co-editor of “Infinite Radius: Founding Rhode Island School of Design.”

Posted in Providence, Tours, VRA 31 | Leave a comment