“Lost Prov” and WaterFire

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A gondola plies the city’s intimate rivers during WaterFire. (waterfiresharonpa.org)

Today at 4:30, in the brand new WaterFire Arts Center (474 Valley St.), Gene Bunnell, the author of Transforming Providence, and I will each offer a 30-minute presentation on the revitalization of Providence, culminating in Barnaby Evans’s WaterFire Providence. We’ll then take questions. Gene’s book and my own book, Lost Providence, will be on sale at this free event. By then, it will be time to go to WaterFire itself.

To get readers in the mood for this evening’s events, I link here to a short essay I wrote about the phenomenon when it was still new. “Sex and WaterFire” begins:

Now that I’ve got your attention (to paraphrase the famous Wall Street Journal editorial), the title should really be “Sensuality at WaterFire: or, Art as Aphrodisiac.” Whatever else has been said about Barnaby Evans’ great work of art, WaterFire as a setting for love seems more noticed than remarked upon, and more remarked upon than studied in an academic vein. With this essay, that scholarly lacuna is history.

Actually, “Sex and WaterFire” is in fact about sex and WaterFire, or at least about romance and WaterFire, or psychology and WaterFire, or people and WaterFire. Well, it is about WaterFire, the culmination of civic development in the last quarter century of the capital city of Rhode Island. For much of this we may thank the late Bill Warner, but that is another of the many inspiring stories of Providence’s resurrection.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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