Sep 29, 2009

A night out at Waterfire, Providence

Waterfire, Providence

A few weeks ago my husband and I met up with some friends for dinner in Providence. Both Brian and I used to live in Rhode Island, and I love being back there. There's such a wonderful artist community, with support for the arts through galleries, theatre, festivals, and events such as Waterfire. The Waterfire phenomenon began as an installation that really took on a life of its own, and now runs bi-weekly (and sometimes more often with partial lightings, depending on sponsorship) from spring through fall.

Fires in the basin

From the Waterfire website:
Barnaby Evans created First Fire in 1994 as a commission to celebrate the tenth anniversary of First Night Providence. In June 1996, Evans created Second Fire for the International Sculpture Conference where it became the gathering place
for thousands of participants from all over the world. Ardent art supporters convinced Evans to create an on-going fire installation and started a grass-roots effort to establish WaterFire as a non-profit arts organization.
With the support of hundreds of dedicated volunteers, a hard working staff, generous donations from visitors, contributions from corporate leaders and support from the City and State, WaterFire’s bright flames now regularly return to illuminate downtown Providence.

If you've never been to Waterfire, and you live in the Rhode Island area, I'd recommend you make the time to see it for yourself. The waterfront is alive with people, atmospheric music is played on speakers throughout the installation, and the sound and smell of the burning wood permeate the air. Watching the volunteers stoke the fires with fresh timber is a treat - we stopped to watch their progress down the river, dressed in black and silent as they worked. There is always interesting performance art in addition to the fires - I've seen fire dancers, living statues, musicians and singers - the week we were there was a celebration of opera. We caught several performances on stage.

Starry starry night in Memorial park

A new installation that I participated in is Starry Starry Night in Memorial Park. A hundred illuminated paper stars hang from the trees, casting a blue glow in the park. Brian and I purchased a star package to support Waterfire. I received a ribbon on which to write a wish, which was attatched to a star, and then hung in a place of my choice in the park. I also was given two luminaries and cards to write dedications, and a star to bring home with me. For my wish, I added the intention to find the path I am meant for - I've been feeling that I have missed my mark lately, and need some guidance in that respect. For the luminaries, I dedicated one to my husband, who is incredibly supportive and inspiring to me, and one to a dear friend who is suffering through a divorce - wishing him peace through a difficult time.

Looking out over the lights in the park, I was feeling truly connected to the community at Waterfire. It was so moving, and just a lovely experience.

There is one more Waterfire scheduled for October. It's always a busy month, so I don't know if I'll be able to make it back, but with luck I'll be able to sneak out there for a little while.

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