Arts and Culture We Love

Creativity that happens on stage and off


31. There’s a pretty big divide between professional performance groups and community ones. Somehow, the Chorus of Westerly manages to be both. An open group that welcomes all new members, the Chorus puts on high quality performances – sometimes even with the Boston Pops.

32. West Kingston is home to a remarkable cultural institution: The Courthouse Center for the Arts. They might be facing some tough times at the moment, but we wanted to take a moment to appreciate the art gallery/education space/innovative theatre and all-around creative energy that Courthouse has been bringing to South County for decades.

33. It’s an all-too-familiar story that arts institutions are suffering in the wake of the last recession. However, Wakefield’s Contemporary Theater Company has managed to defy the odds by not only surviving, but thriving enough to open a permanent space on Main Street this summer. That deserves a round of applause.

34. We’ll always have a special place in our hearts for our very first cover models (at left). When Bill Hanney and Amiee Turner graced the front of the first issue of SORI, they had just reopened Theatre by the Sea under the Ocean State Theatre Company – which means we’re not the only ones celebrating an anniversary. OSTC’s big news is that they’re opening a second performance space in Warwick.

35. You probably don’t realize that you’re carrying some famous art from a Rhode Islander in your wallet right now, but you are. Gilbert Stuart painted the portrait of George Washington that graces the dollar bill, and he was born in Saunderstown. The Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum offers a glimpse into Colonial times and the life of one of America’s first notable artists.

36. We love South County now, but we love the South County of old, too. The living history that is the South County Museum lets visitors travel back in time to observe blacksmithing and fiber arts while costumed interpreters explain the area’s historical tradition.

37. The Hera Gallery is the little gallery that could. Founded in 1974 and rooted in a deeply feminine aesthetic, Hera brought cutting edge issues into the larger social conversation and celebrated the works of women. That is, until it lost its home – that funky colored building set off Main Street in Wakefield – not so long ago. Without a formal gallery space, most businesses would have closed, but not Hera. It existed as a floating gallery for a couple of years, and now has a new permanent home on High Street.

38. The musical legacy of Westerly’s Knickerbocker Café speaks for itself. The live music venue for rock, roots and blues has hosted legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Coleman Hawkins, and is home to the Grammy-winning, internationally known Roomful of Blues. The Knick has been offering dining, dancing and great music since the 1970s; major renovations in the last couple of years ensure they’ll be doing the same for a long time to come.

39. Set in a 1945 airplane hangar at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, the Quonset Air Museum pays tribute to Rhode Island’s aviation history. There are 28 restored (or currently under renovation) aircraft on display, including an 1944 Hellcat, a 1983 F-14 Tomcat and the last plane to fly out of the station, a twin tail Navy transport.

40. Walking into the Greenwich Hotel is a bit like stepping back into history – which only makes sense, considering the building is 114 years old. Downstairs, the lounge serves up inexpensive drinks and live music almost every night. Earlier in the week, open mic and open jam nights give budding musicians a stage; later in the week, the Greenwich Hotel brings in talented local and regional acts like Joe Fletcher and Mark Cutler.

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