Thursday, January 31, 2013

Architecture ~ The Hope Club ~ Providence

The Hope Club
6 Benevolent St.
Providence, Rhode Island

Two summers ago, Bear and I were enjoying a stroll down Benefit Street when we heard the gentle strains of harp music in the air. We followed it to a building on the corner of Benefit and Benevolent Streets, a big Victorian with a hexagonal room protruding from the side. The music was coming from those windows, and naturally we were intrigued. The sign outside the entrance told us this was The Hope Club. We hadn’t heard of it before.

B_32 College Hill - Hope Club (1885) - 6 Benevolent Street at Benefit Street - Looking North-East
Hope Club ca 1990 by California Cthulhu (Will Hart)

Curious, we climbed the stone stairs, entered and looked around. To the right, a small room with leather chairs and dark wood bookshelves. To the left, an elegant lobby with couches and a fireplace. And in front of us, a greeting window that looked a bit like a hotel check-in desk. In a moment a young woman came out to greet us. When I explained that we were curious about the building, she politely explained that it’s a private club. That was our cue to exit.

Fast forward a year and a half to January 2013. The Providence Monthly’s 2013 Ten to Watch party is being hosted at The Hope Club! Finally, a chance to see behind the exclusive doors. I was as excited at the prospect of being allowed inside as I was at the opportunity to meet Providence’s up-and-comers.

The interior is understated and elegant.

The lobby is lush with dark woods, fireplaces and comfortable furniture.

Providence Monthly's 2013 10-to-watch party by I {heart} Rhody

That hexagonal bump-out is a beautiful dining room.

via The Hope Club
There are several meeting rooms and function spaces, including the ones that were open to us on the night of the party.

via The Hope Club

Providence Monthly's 2013 10-to-watch party by I {heart} Rhody
bar area
Members also enjoy use of the guest rooms and other amenities.

The Hope Club is proud of its history, and keeps a case of artifacts near the elevators for perusal.

Providence Monthly's 2013 10-to-watch party by I {heart} Rhody
It was established on February 27, 1875. A year later, the State of Rhode Island granted a charter to the Club for social and literary culture.

In 1886, the present four-story building was erected. The architects were Gould and Angell.

There is a book with detailed history of the Club, but I haven't been able to access it yet. Also, as it's a private club, there's very little information available on their site.

I did learn that membership is invitation-only and requires the recommendation of two members, along with a vote from the board of directors. There's no mention of what the cost of annual dues are, but in 1875 they were $25.

All the research I've done tells me that the Hope Club offers premiere service. From my one experience, I'd have to agree. If you've got the means, it would be a beautiful venue for a wedding or other event.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Artists ~ Karen Malcolm

Business name: MalcolmStudioShop
Location: Online and at local art shows
Etsy shop:
Google Plus:

1. Tell us about your work:

I’m a mixed media artist. I create 3d constructions, 2d collages and works on canvas using found objects and other recycled and natural materials. I grew up in Rhode Island and am very influenced by my seaside New England roots and have a slightly irreverent fascination with all things old. That means that I’m not afraid to alter an old object to help me tell a story. I also like to have fun and find humor in the everyday. I hope that my work reflects this. It’s great when people see my work, get it, and smile!

My New England practicality means that I also up-cycle, recycle and creatively restore worn, discarded and vintage boxes into functional art. I sand, repair, hand paint, collage and embellish old recipe, jewelry and keepsake boxes with found objects like letterpress block letters, pie tins, advertising rulers and other found objects.

2. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter?

It’s kind of funny, but the truth is that I started selling my artwork and transitioning to working as a full-time artist because I’d run out of space in my home to store my completed work! I needed to clear some of it out so that I could create more. So, it was really out of necessity that I started to promote my work through local shows and online.

3. Where do you draw your inspiration?

For me, as a found object artist, living surrounded by Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is fantastic. The bay and ocean provide me with an endless supply of sand, driftwood, sea glass, shells and other beach finds to incorporate into my assemblage, constructions and paintings. I also often include imagery of coastal birds in my art. I sail too and this is a big part of my work.

I'm inspired by history, storytelling and whimsy. I grew up around art and antiques. My father was a "picker" -- he searched out antiques and sold them for a living. I search out old objects and incorporate them into new works of art by reflecting on the people that owned and used them.

4. What’s your favorite item to make?

This is a tough question, but probably my favorite items to make are small 3d ‘bottle whimsies.’ Sailors have made bottle whimsies for centuries – it’s part of the same tradition as ships in a bottle. When I create these, I feel very connected to tradition and history – but I don’t have to be “traditional” in how I create them. For instance, I like to incorporate mobiles into my bottle art – inspired by those of the artist Alexander Calder.

5. What’s your best seller?

My best seller is definitely my creatively restored recipe boxes. I get lots of commissions for custom boxes. People want something to pass down, and recipes are a wonderful way to record family history. Having a one of a kind recipe box is special.

6. How long have you been in Rhode Island?

Born and raised here. It’s a great place. There’s so much art and music, great food and the Bay is gorgeous.

7. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?

I {heart} Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, messing around in boats, and beach combing. Of course, I {heart} all my friends and family who live here.

8. Please include anything else you’d like to add:

The only thing I would add is that I believe in managing my impact on our environment, and so using existing materials to create just makes sense to me. That's another reason why I use found objects and other recycled and natural materials in my work.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Events ~ Providence Monthly’s 2013 Ten to Watch Party ~ Providence

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend Providence Monthly’s 2013 Ten to Watch party at the Hope Club in Providence.

The place was hopping with people. Not just the Ten to Watch, but their co-workers, admirers, friends and people like me, who wanted to see and meet these ten people, from whom we expect big things in 2013.

Providence Monthly's 2013 10-to-watch party by I {heart} Rhody

The event benefited the RI Urban Debate League, so there were representatives from that organization as well, including some of the high school student participants.

Catering by Cozy Caterers was excellent, with lots of interesting offerings from the typical (Beef Wellington) to more unusual. But we weren’t there for the food. We were there to learn more, network and generally have a good time in the Hope Club’s gracious environment.

Mayor Taveras shared some opening remarks, and Providence Monthly’s editor read off the names and made presentations. The Ten to Watch include entrepreneurs, educators, politicians, the arts and philanthropists:

photo: Providence Monthly
The Arts
Kevin Broccoli, Founder, Epic Theater Company

Business/Community Development
Lisa Ranglin, President, Rhode Island Black Business Association

Christine Lopes, Executive Director, RI-CAN
Dr. Sheri Miller-Williams, Executive Director, United Providence
Mim Runey, President/COO Johnson & Wales University

Hannah Chung and Aaron Horowitz, Co-founders, Sproutel (we interviewed them regarding Jerry the Bear)

Peter Marino, Director, RI Office of Management and Budget

Jessica David, Vice President for Planning, Strategy and Special Projects, RI Foundation.

James Diossa, Mayor, Central Falls

We can expect big things in Providence and its environs this year. I’m looking forward to it!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dining ~ Pot au Feu ~ Providence

Pot au Feu
44 Custom House Rd.
Providence, Rhode Island
(401) 273-8953

Bear observed that the 17th birthday is a bit of a letdown. It's the one sandwiched between the all-out celebration of the sweet 16 and the milestone 18. She didn't want a big party this year, but instead a fancy dinner with her, me and her boyfriend D. She chose Pot au Feu.

image: Providence Restaurants

"Pot au Feu" is French for "pot of fire." It's a traditional French beef stew with root vegetables and spices that's a fixture on family dinner tables.

The dining room is downstairs below street level. There's lots of brick, stone and warm wood, which gives the sense of a comfortable wine cellar.

Bar by I {heart} Rhody

Bar by I {heart} Rhody

Dining room by I {heart} Rhody

After being plied with some extremely good fresh bread, we started our meal with hors d'oeuvres of pate maison and escargots bourgignon.

Bear was taken aback by the jelly covering the pate, but after tasting it declared it very creamy and well-seasoned. I thought it was quite good, too.

Foie gras by I {heart} Rhody

Although Bear has had escargot before, it was my first experience. I found them chewy, slightly garlicky. They weren't bad, but I don't think I'd order them for myself. Bear thought they were a bit mild, bordering on bland. It appeared to her as though one wasn't cleaned properly.
Escargot by I {heart} Rhody

Bear's main course was Caneton Framboise, which is duck leg seared on the bone with a duck confit. She thought the sauce went very well with the duck, which would have tasted bland by itself. She really liked the seared Brussels sprouts, but thought the potato was a bit undercooked.


My dinner was the Tournedos Bearnaise. My hat's off to the server and chef, who made deft last minute adjustments for me when I realized that I had accidentally requested Bordelaise. The beef was tender and the sauce excellent. My meal also came with sauteed Brussels sprouts, which were delicious. The accompanying House Dill potatoes were good, sweet and white with a tasty dill dipping sauce.

Steaks frites with bearnaise by I {heart} Rhody

At the server's suggestion, I paired it with a Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre Grand Noir. The wine had a deep, rich flavor on its own, though I really didn't care for how it mingled with the Bearnaise.

And what is a birthday dinner without a special dessert?

For me, it was Pot du Chocolat, deep and rich and thick. It was hard to move the spoon through it, and the consistency of Pla Do, but deliciously chocolatey.

Pot de chocolate by I {heart} Rhody

Bear's dessert was Creme Brulee. It was  cool, creamy with a crisp sugar crust. I literally heard Bear purr as she ate it.
Creme brulee by I {heart} Rhody

It was a great dinner overall, with very good service and lovely surroundings. We met the owner as we were leaving, and he was very charming, and wished Bear happy birthday in French.

I'd call Pot au Feu a special occasion restaurant, well worth it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

From the I {heart} Rhody Flickr group

Bus Stop by Armadillo Commander via I {heart} Rhody
Bus Stop by Armadillo Commander

Untitled by ArtFan70 via I {heart} Rhody
Untitled by ArtFan70

Winter Tree by Bell7283 via I {heart} Rhody
Winter Tree by Bell7283

Golden Moment by Bellamy Photography via I {heart} Rhody
Golden Moment by Bellamy Photography

December 26-1 by Carly Sabatino via I {heart} Rhody
December 26-1 by Carly Sabatino

Chevy Dealer by dadofliz via I {heart} Rhody
Chevy Dealer by dadofliz

Judith Point Lighthouse, RI by dhfore via I {heart} Rhody
Judith Point Lighthouse, RI by dhfore

Strange light on Block Island by E Godfrey via I {heart} Rhody
Strange light on Block Island by E Godfrey

rolling in_ by enjoiskate8 via I {heart} Rhody
rolling in_ by enjoiskate8

Top of the Biltmore by I {heart} Rhody
Top of the Biltmore by I {heart} Rhody

Bank of America Ice Skating by GoProvidenceRI via I {heart} Rhody
Bank of America Ice Skating by GoProvidenceRI

Tunnel entrance by Mr. Ducke via I {heart} Rhody
Tunnel entrance by Mr. Ducke

Iggy's by mike_dooley via I {heart} Rhody
Iggy's by mike_dooley

Cold foggy day in Newport by leith70 via I {heart} Rhody
Cold foggy day in Newport by leith70

Retro seating by kobrienjewelry via I {heart} Rhody
Retro seating by kobrienjewelry

Providence Nightscape by Jerri Moon Cantone via I {heart} Rhody
Providence Nightscape by Jerri Moon Cantone

Providence Skyline by MStoeckle via I {heart} Rhody
Providence Skyline by MStoeckle

The Tropigals by Cat Laine : Painted Foot via I {heart} Rhody
The Tropigals by Cat Laine : Painted Foot

Providence by provbenson2009 via I {heart} Rhody
Providence by provbenson2009

ODC3 Topple: Explore June 17, 2012 by R Joanne via I {heart} Rhody
ODC3 Topple: Explore June 17, 2012 by R Joanne

Little Compton Graveyard by Rick Payette via I {heart} Rhody
Little Compton Graveyard by Rick Payette

Marine art on the east side of Easton's beach. by robert.rinkel via I {heart} Rhody
Marine art on the east side of Easton's beach. by robert.rinkel

Taylor Point-10 by Royston_Kane via I {heart} Rhody
Taylor Point-10 by Royston_Kane

Providence by ShutterCub Photography via I {heart} Rhody
Providence by ShutterCub Photography

Big River Marsh_hdr by sixkings55 via I {heart} Rhody
Big River Marsh_hdr by sixkings55

north providence-09169 by tomcollinsarc via I {heart} Rhody
north providence-09169 by tomcollinsarc

A NIght at the Theatah by Town & Building Designer via I {heart} Rhody
A NIght at the Theatah by Town & Building Designer

Carr House Cafe by uselessbay via I {heart} Rhody
Carr House Cafe by uselessbay

Beavertail 4-29-11 by Wilks2010 via I {heart} Rhody
Beavertail 4-29-11 by Wilks2010