PROVIDENCE: I’ve said it before in print and I’ll say it here again: Providence is perhaps the coolest little city you’ve never visited. An atmospheric and restored downtown, a robust restaurant scene, a groovy community of artists and designers, plus some of the prettiest colonial architecture this side of Williamsburg: I don’t understand why the place is not choked with tourists. Well…okay, I do: the 1980’s and early 90’s were not kind to the city, which saw crime skyrocket and downtown abandoned. Despite a massive decade-long renewal, the news of its rebound seems to be traveling slowly.
One of the inventive ideas that shepherded the city’s revitalization is WaterFire, a massive public art project that’s the brainchild of sculptor Barnaby Evans. Defying logic, over the course of almost six months WaterFire sets three conjoining rivers of downtown Providence alight each night at sunset. It’s by far the most successful public installation of art I’ve ever seen, drawing visitors and locals down to the center of the city after dark to listen to music and interact with the fire, the river, and the community that nightly springs up along its banks.
RIVIERA MAYA: I know in an earlier post I had waxed rhapsodic over my adventures in Mexican street food, as well as hiking the ruins of Tulum, so let’s take this moment to appreciate the unheralded art of Mexican towel origami. I’ve not seen it practiced elsewhere, yet in Mexico the housekeeping staffs are masters of the art. More often than not towels are rolled into swans, hearts or flowers, usually accompanied by a handful of rose petals or hibiscus blossoms. Here however, we have a much more playful – if less technically difficult – Mayan towel god.