Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rhode Island - Day 7 - RISD & Roger Williams Park

Crowne Plaza Hotel parking lot
Sunday, 7 October 2018
fuzzy route map
Luckily, I guessed right about the parking lot lights and slept well all night.  I needed it.

At the Visitor Center when I first came to RI, I picked up a handout about the museum at the Rhode Island School of Design.  It looked interesting, and I've gradually learned this place is a pretty big deal.  Admission is free on Sundays, so I've held off coming until today.

I was in downtown Providence by about 9:15 and there was no traffic, just the situation I needed to negotiate those narrow old streets.  The museum is on Benefit St., so named because it was originally (in the 1700s) an alley that got paved, which was a benefit for the people who used it (get it? oh those Puritans and their sense of humor).  This alley is now a 2-lane street with parking along one side and lots of old trees, so negotiating it even in my little guy is something I can't do on autopilot.  And looking for parking near the museum meant I kept driving down the same streets and getting lost trying to get back again (yea for my Providence map!) but I found a good spot a block away.  With time to spare (opening at 10:00), the dogs and I went for a walk.  We got out on the sidewalk, I looked up, and saw this tower.
It's a memorial to somebody's wife, an inscription that says "Love is stronger than death," and is pretty gorgeous.  When I got to the corner, I turned around and saw this building on the right, which I think was somebody's house.  Somebody with money, I'd say.  It's that ornate all the way around.

Turns out these structures are at Brown University, which was pretty quiet on a Sunday morning so the dogs and I could walk across the green lawn and not see other dogs.  I did see a recycling receptacle, though, and I've got 2 bags of milk jugs and assorted bottles I've been carrying around looking for a home for, so I'll come back.

Along the green lawn I saw an unusual and very moving memorial.

I'm putting in 2 shots of the inscription in case one is easier to read than the other.  It's worth reading.

The dogs and I tried walking along the sidewalks but kept seeing lots of dogs getting their Sunday morning walk, and I have no faith at all that mine would act sensibly around them, so I eventually got them back to the RV.

On my way to the museum, I stopped and dumped my 2 bags of items gratefully.  Not all campgrounds accept any items, or only a few types - but I'm finding that large colleges tend to be big on recycling.

Rhode Island School of Design Museum
The museum would have been worth the admission price and was more than a bargain at no price at all.  They had items by Diego Rivera (a lithograph), Matisse, Paul Klee, Mies van der Rohe (a rattan and chrome chair), Jackson Pollock, a Calder mobile.

They had a really interesting temporary exhibit on textile repair - showing how ordinary people in the past mended their muslin dresses and buckskin leggings and prayer rugs.  They showed how the museum mended some of their acquisitions.  I'm reading Jane Austen right now, and now I know how the servants mended slits in muslin dresses.

Diane von Furstenberg dress
Some things I couldn't help but take photos of.

I'm having a TERRIBLE time getting this stupid program to let me place photos properly today so look at the captions to follow the bouncing ball.

I thought that desk was gorgeous, and the rolltop is incredible - see it behind the von Furstenberg dress.

weird vase

info re weird vase

This vase is to the left of the von Furstenberg dress.  That dress, by the way, is an example of her wrap dress design that surprised the fashion world in the 70s.  The museum has several other examples of it.

info re shift dress to left
This dress didn't surprise me, having see it many times in 1920s and '30s films, but the information about it did give me pause.

info re desk

The sign says this silver desk was intended to be a show-stopper, and it's still one.  I saw it from way across the room.  It's absolutely stunning.

I saw a lot of Chihuly work in Washington state but never realized his strong ties to Rhode Island.  This sign explains that.

Roger Williams Park
This enormous park is a big deal in Rhode Island, and includes a very highly regarded zoo, which I didn't visit.  I did stop to pay my respects to Roger Williams, remembering visiting here with my mom some years ago.

This statue of Roger Williams may or may not look anything like him - it turns out that nobody today knows what he looked like.  There were no drawings or statues made of him during his lifetime, so now everybody's just guessing.  I understand there's one that actually has the face of Ted Williams, the baseball player.

Oh, well.  This looks impressive.  The Greek goddess type below him is writing his name on the tablet, and his dates: 1603-1683.

The land the park sits on was part of the original land Williams was given by the Narragansett tribe that befriended him when he got kicked out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for heresy.  (He thought there might be other legitimate ways of worshiping God than the one they recognized.)  This land stayed in his family for centuries and was donated to Providence in 1872 by his last remaining descendant.

I took this photo because I thought the statue might be in honor of John Philip Sousa, the March King, and it's a nice setting.  But after spending some internet time, I can't find any connection between him and Rhode Island - I don't even know if he was ever here, let alone why they'd put up a statue to him.  But anyway, here's this nice statue by this nice pond.

I was actually aiming for the carousel.  As you've already figured out, I'm a sucker for merry-go-rounds and I remembered there was one here that was closed (to my sorrow) when Momma and I were here before.  I don't know when it closes for the season, but Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day weekend clearly wasn't the time to close - the carousel was open and there were people everywhere.

I don't know anything about the history of it, but it's as beautiful as any I've seen.

It cost $2 and I absolutely got my money's worth of joy.

Other Providence stops

I went as close to the State House as I could get - parking being difficult even on a holiday Sunday - and walked the dogs a bit.

This is the unassuming backside of the capitol, but I was aiming for the dome.  It's one of 5 self-supporting domes in the world, and 2nd in size only to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

On top is a gold-leafed statue titled Independent Man.  The design caused quite a stir in the mid-1800s when it was created but was eventually accepted.  It was cast by Gorham Manufacturing Co., a premier silver and metal work company founded in Providence. (obviously an internet photo)

That's an anchor he's holding, symbolizing Rhode Island's motto, "Hope."

During our walk, I saw a bird fly up to a parking lot light, and then couldn't see him again.  But he had such a wonderful song, and sang and sang and sang.  So I kept watching, hoping to get a better look at him, and maybe he didn't like to be stared at but he suddenly flew away and I did get a better look though the light wasn't the best.  I started to think it must be a mockingbird, but I know the mockingbird song well from Texas and this bird wasn't singing that song.

But after long consultation with the bird book, I'm convinced it was a mockingbird, and that he modified his song because he lives around different birds than the ones in Texas, so he's mimicking different songs.  That was something I'd wondered about in Texas, and unless some bird expert tells me I'm wrong, I think I've finally got an answer.  His song was beautiful.

My takeaway from Providence: it's a city of domes and steeples and fancy weathervanes.  It's old and beautiful and just as vibrant as it was in the 1600s.

No comments:

Post a Comment