Spend a sunny afternoon in pursuit of some culture. From art museums – surprise! the state has several – to places where you can learn a new craft, Rhode Island is full of artful destinations for you to explore.
Big Art in Little Rhody
The first name in art in the Ocean State is the Rhode Island School of Design, and its attached museum does not disappoint. As the state’s biggest, the RISD Museum brings in nationally touring exhibits, offers classes and seminars for kids and adults, and hosts Design the Night evenings, where you can roam the galleries with a glass of wine.
224 Benefit Street, Providence. 401-454-6500, www.risdmuseum.org
It’s Delightful, It’s Delicious, It’s Delovely
Come up with any adjective you like to describe The Fantastic Umbrella Factory in Charlestown and you still won’t be able to completely capture the place. It’s part farm (complete with a bamboo maze), part greenhouse selling unique plants and flowers, part cafe serving local edibles. There’s a meditation garden filled with outdoor sculptures, and several different merchants selling handmade local art.
4820 Old Post Road, Charlestown. 401-364-1060, www.fantasticumbrellafactory.com
An Island Oasis
Another artful destination that defies description, The Jamestown Arts Center gives art classes for kids and adults, hosts performances by Jamestown’s community theatre, screens films, offers talks by visiting artists, and is generally a place for the island (and beyond) to engage in all types of artistic expression.
18 Valley Street, Jamestown. 401-560-0979, www.jamestownartcenter.org
Thinking Outside the Lines
The “summer cottages” better known as the Newport mansions are works of art in themselves, but housed inside one of the grand Bellevue Avenue homes is the National Museum of American Illustration. The museum is home to priceless works by Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, NC Wyeth and other masters of the craft.
492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport. 401-851-8949, www.americanillustration.org
Stroll and Shop
What was once a manufacturing mill is now Hope Artiste Village, an artisan destination where makers craft everything from one-of-a-kind violins to designer handbags. The individual shops are perfect for strolling and exploring, especially on Saturdays during the Wintertime Farmer’s Market. Hope Artiste is also home to a restaurant, a vintage bowling alley and a concert venue.
1001 Main Street, Pawtucket. 401-722-0752, www.hopeartistevillage.com
Art By The Sea
A fun and interactive destination, the Newport Art Museum is a great place to spend the afternoon exploring work by local and nationally known artists. The museum hosts rotating exhibitions and art workshops, as well as their monthly Murder at the Museum whodunit with the Marley Bridges Theatre Company.
76 Bellevue Avenue, Newport. 401-848.8200, www.newportartmuseum.org
Small Town Charm
If you’re looking for a new destination to explore, historic Tiverton Four Corners is worth a visit. The idyllic hamlet radiates everything that’s lovely about New England in the fall. The Four Corners Arts Center is the centerpiece of the village, with sculptures throughout their wooded expanse. A nearby art gallery, cute boutiques and Gray’s Ice Cream make it easy to enjoy a few hours there.
Main Road, Tiverton. www.tivertonfourcorners.com
Join the Club
If you’ve driven by the iconic Fleur de Lys House at the bottom of College Hill in Providence and pondered what wonders could possibly be inside, it’s time to see for yourself. The Providence Art Club makes its home in that building and the adjacent galleries, which is open to the public (though if you want to stay for lunch, make sure you have a member with you).
11 Thomas Street, Providence. 401-331-1114, www.providenceartclub.org
The South County Art Association is a juried membership organization designed to promote local artistic talent, and offers a pottery studio, printmaking studio, stonecarving studio and painting studio to its members. It’s also a gallery where everything is for sale, and a center of learning that offers classes in nearly every imaginable artistic discipline for kids, teens and adults.
2587 Kingstown Road, Kingston. 401-783-2195, www.southcountyart.org
It’s Easy Being Green
At least it is at Portsmouth’s Green Animals, where art takes on a different form: topiaries. There are over 80 plant-based sculptures at the historic home, which has the oldest topiary garden in the country. The property also has vegetable and herb gardens, a beautiful Victorian home and gorgeous views of Narragansett Bay.
380 Cory’s Lane, Portsmouth. 401-847-1000, www.newportmansions.org
In downtown Providence, AS220 is building an arts empire with the future great artists of tomorrow, teaching teenagers innovative artistic techniques like 3D printing and classics like screen printing and photography. What does that mean for you? A gallery of ever-changing art, live performances by bands, a killer cocktail menu at The Bar at AS220 and great cheap food at AS220 foo(d).
115 Empire Street, Providence. 401-831-9327, www.as220.org
It’s only one room, but the Warwick Museum of Art is definitely worth a stop. Part gallery of works by accomplished local artists, part performance space, the museum hosts monthly Bring Your Own Improv events, art classes and kids camps.
3259 Post Road, Warwick. 401-737-0010, www.warwickmuseum.org