Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rhode Trip

On Thursday morning, I put my mother on the train in New London and headed to Rhode Island.  I had planned a more leisurely day than Melvin and I typically do; the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum of Art—above, Gilded Frost and Jet Chandelier, 2008 by Dale Chihuly (pdf)—and a game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees, the Triple-A affiliates of the American League East rivals.

Melvin and I often eschew the Interstate for other roads and since I had only an hour of driving, I started out on Connecticut 184 and Rhode Island 3, which run alongside I-95.  I drove past the large, polychrome scorpion outside Exeter Scrap Metal without stopping, unlike our 2006 trip to Providence, when we went out of our way to find the 58-foot long termite on the roof of Big Blue Bug Solutions.

Twenty minutes later I spotted Reticulitermes flavipes, best viewed from the Interstate.  I decided the only thing that had changed was my not needing to document my scorpion sighting with my camera.

Installation view of Painting Air: Spencer Finch, February 24-July 29, 2012.
Photography by Erik Gould. Courtesy of the
Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design

The RISD Museum of Art is a gem.  I was disappointed to have missed Painting Air: Spencer Finch, a site-specific installation of 100 glass panels that reflect and refract a painted mural.  But there were several other special exhibitions to see, including Uncommon Ground, eight pattern paintings by Dan Walsh, and Wendy Richmond's video installation, Navigating the Personal Bubble.

Loose leaf notebook drawing, © Richard Tuttle

A couple of the exhibits formed subjective surveys of contemporary art.  Fifty Works for Rhode Island presented the donation from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection to the museum, one of 50 such gifts nationwide.  A librarian and a postal clerk, respectively, they lived on one salary and bought art, including Richard Tuttle's Loose Leaf Notebook Drawings - Box 14, Group 7 (1980-82), with the other.

I especially enjoyed Subject to Change: Art and Design in the Twentieth Century, "masterworks of painting, sculpture, furniture, ceramics, drawings, photographs, costume, textiles and industrial design from 1900 to 2000, all drawn from the Museum's permanent collection."  The cantilevered installation by Matter Practice is brilliant.

Comparing these shows (and also Everyday Things) with Crystal Bridges, which Melvin and I visited last month, it occurs to me that most museum goers want the same thing: enough recognizable work that they don't feel like ignorami, but also engaging new revelations.  Crystal Bridges and the RISD Museum of Art both do this, but the discourse at the latter takes place at a much more sophisticated level.

I left myself plenty of time to explore McCoy Stadium, which has quite a lot to check out despite the simplicity of the 1942 structure itself.  Judging from the conversations I overheard, the most fascinating is the material on the longest game in baseball history.  There is also a series of portraits of Pawsox players and panels describing great moments in stadium history.  I don't see how "Manny being Manny" on a rehab assignment qualifies as a great moment, but I am not a Red Sox fan.

The game was a great one for those fans who want to see players about to break into the majors, or hoping to make it back.  Most prominent of these was Kosuke Fukudome, the all-star Cub center fielder who played briefly for the Indians and White Sox on his way down to the Triple-A Yankees.  Playing for the Pawsox was Andy LaRoche, a (once?) slick-fielding third-baseman with 403 games with the Dodgers, Pirates and Athletics.

Also recognizable were a couple Peñas; Ramiro, up and down with the Yankees over the past four years, and Tony Jr., back to being a pitcher after playing the infield with the Royals and Braves.  I also got to see our old friend, "Number Two," Corban Joseph.  (He now wears number one.)

Red Sox fans groaned in recognition when Daniel Bard was announced in the seventh inning.  The 2006 first round draft pick has been either very good or very bad and on August 16 we saw the latter.  Bard came into the game with a 4-2 lead and left three outs later with his fourth blown save and second loss of the season.

None of the three runs were earned because there were two errors but one was by Bard, who also walked two and hit a batter before giving up the game-winning single.  Did I mention they played "Wild Thing" while he took his warm-up tosses?  Ryota Igarashi, the former Mets reliever, earned the save for the Yankees.
Box Score

The next morning I had breakfast at Modern Diner, a 1941 Sterling Streamliner train car relocated from 13 Dexter Street in 1985.  Seven years earlier, vacant and boarded up, it became the first diner to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On-line reviews (urbanspoon, yelp) are mixed, and based on everything I read and my one trip to the restaurant, my advice is this: Go on the weekend and order from the specials.  Go early or go late or be patient if there is a line, which there well may be.  And don't expect the waitresses to fawn all over you—I treated them with respect and got treated in kind.

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