Friday, April 29, 2016

Newportal ~ A Collaborative Cultural Heritage Website Launches

Newportal: A Collaborative Cultural Heritage Website Launches

Newport, RINewportal, a free online collaborative database that brings together the art, objects, and manuscript collections of participating cultural heritage institutions in Newport, launched on April 27th, 2016. Made possible through the support of the Rhode Island Foundation, the database enables the public to access collections across institutional boundaries. It is available at .

Newportal was developed by a collaborative of five institutions: the Newport Art Museum, the Newport Historical Society, the Newport Restoration Foundation,
the Preservation Society of Newport County, and the Redwood Library and Athenaeum. By uniting access to collections across institutions, Newportal is a
unique resource that encourages scholarship and presents a holistic story of Newport County’s cultural and social history. The website will be useful to scholars and students of Rhode Island history and material culture, and visitors to the City-by-the-Sea.

By bringing together rich and diverse collections of paintings, Newport-made furniture, textiles, decorative objects, and documents, Newportal will serve as a
platform to facilitate ongoing collaboration and showcase Newport’s diverse cultural heritage through digital presentations. For the launch of the database, three online exhibits--Women of Newport, Made in Newport, and Social Life of Newport--demonstrate how connections made across institutional collections help make more comprehensive narratives of Newport’s history.

Newportal was first conceived in January 2012 when a group of archivists and museum professionals met to discuss the creation of an online collections database, where member institutions could share information online. The Rhode Island Foundation awarded the project a planning grant in 2013 and a $60,000 implementation grant in 2014. These funds supported the design and development of the database to bring Newportal to fruition. Daniel Kertzner, the Foundation’s grantmaker in the Arts sector, wrote in a statement about Newportal, “Our support promotes the reputations of the participating organizations as community resources and makes their collections much more accessible. [Newportal] is a wonderful example of how technology can be used to drive how people engage with arts and culture.”

Looking to the future, Newportal will expand over time with the inclusion of additional Newport institutions and a growth of collections and digital exhibitions.

About Newportal
Newportal is a collaborative project of cultural institutions in Newport County, RI with Newport County-based collections. The mission is to provide a free online collections database that documents and promotes Newport’s vibrant cultural heritage. Newportal encourages scholarship and discovery by facilitating access to collections across institutional boundaries.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Oh what a night ~ Jersey Boys at PPAC

Jersey Boys
Providence Performing Arts Center
220 Weybosset St.
Providence, Rhode Island

I'm still humming the tunes from Jersey Boys. It's full of music that's probably familiar to most adults - top 10 hits from the 50's, 60's and 70's that are American standards now: the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

This Tony-winning musical is basically a docu-concert. Each of the four members of the original Four Seasons (aka The Varietones, The Four Lovers, and others), tells part of the story of the band's history from their own perspective.

There's Tommy DeVito, the bull-headed, belligerent mook who first brought Frankie Valli into the band. Matthew Dailey brings just the right amount of swagger to the role, and has the accent down pat.

There's Frankie himself, born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, the short man with a tall vocal range. Frankie is played by Aaron De Jesus, whose range could give Valli a run for his money, though he doesn't quite have the vocal quality that Valli does. De Jesus also bears a passing resemblance to Joe Pesci, both physically and in his speaking voice, which is a little unsettling. Especially when the character of Joe Pesci shows up.

There's Joe Pesci's discovery, a one-hit wonder at 15 with "Short Shorts," Bob Gaudio. Even as a youth, he's focused and savvy. Drew Seeley gives him an innocence and steadfastness that matures over the years, but doesn't leave him, even as he writes most of the group's songs, including their number one hits.

And finally, there's the quiet guy. Nick Massi. You know the type. He sits in on the meetings, but doesn't say anything. Meanwhile he's thinking some pretty deep thoughts, and when he does speak up, everyone stops and listens. He's played as eloquent and fastidious by Keith Hines.

The Four Seasons' hits, greater and minor, are interwoven into the story in a meaningful way. When they're performing, you feel the emotion, from the high energy "December 1963" to the heartbreaking "My Eyes Adored You."

For me, there was an added bonus: I was born and lived in New Jersey for the first nine years of my life. Hearing those Jersey accents was oddly satisfying. Like a quick trip home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Makers ~ Richard Bradley ~ Providence

Artist’s name: Richard Bradley
Shop name: My Pink Planet
Instagram: My_Pink_Planet

1. Tell us about your work
I do handmade wearable art, mostly jewelry using many of the old and nearly lost industrial techniques. My pieces are diverse and for the most part, one of a kind.

2. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer?
I’ve always had a fascination, as far back as I remember, with jewelry and all things sparkly. In my teenage years I started collecting vintage costume jewelry and my natural inclination was to explore how and where such beautiful objects were made. From working in design houses that opened in the 1930’s and 40’s I learned many of the old and lost techniques from some of the industries “old timers”. Today I’m a 10+ year veteran jewelry designer who enjoys inspiring others as well as exploring my own creative venues.

3. Where do you draw your inspiration?
I draw inspiration from many historical references, I love that the Vogue Archives is now online, old Hollywood movies of course, and I spend a lot of time in art museums and galleries. I love that Rhode Island has Gallery Night Providence, they give free tours of the city's art galleries, this really keeps me in sync with the creative pulse of today’s world.

4. What’s your favorite item to create?
I really enjoy my smaller, more tailored pieces. They are quick and fun to make, so spontaneous, I can create several pieces in a day and each one will be a different design.

5. What’s your best seller?
I can’t seem to get past my reputation for my rhinestone work, in my younger days, people used to call me “Richard Rhinestone”. My customers always ask for more crystal animals, masks and tiaras and the bigger the better.

6. How long have you been in Rhode Island?
My family moved to RI when I was in high school and after graduating from RISD I just never left.

7. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?
The diversity of the community, so many arts oriented people and businesses, theaters, galleries and restaurants. The affordability of living here is nice, although that seems to be changing. I like that I can live in a city with a large academic population, and yet in minutes I’m in the country or by the ocean.

8. Please include anything else you’d like to add:
I’d love it if you and your followers would like My Pink Planet on FaceBook and check out my blog when you have a chance I don’t post to it often, but it’s a great outlet for sharing my creative proscess. Oh, and don’t forget to visit my etsy shop too!