When is an island not an island… when it’s Rogue Island or Rhode Island.
America’s smallest state, population 1 million, and which you could fit 40 times into England, is landed with a coast.
So why is this New England gem, Rogue Island or Rhode Island, called an island?
Well, it’s all down to Italian navigator Giovanni Verrazano who compared the nearby Block Island to Rhodes.
A big, small state
Despite being the smallest state in the union RI punches well above its weight.
You may be more familiar with Newport, Rhode Island as the home of American sailing.
But it’s Providence which is the state capital which they like to style with good reason capital of creativity.
And it has a rich seam, high brow and low brow as my guide Jenn who has a way with words summed it up.
Wall, what it’s good for
But it comes from the street too with public art champions The Avenue Concept overseeing the murals which puts the city on a grander scale.
Jenny and Yarrow take me (they will guide others too) on a walking tour of the city and its many and fluctuating public art works.
From my artsy and minimalist Marriott Aloft Providence Downtown.
A Native American story
They explain to me the story behind the Native American girl surrounded by Nature, and holding a photograph of an older kinswoman.
I see her en route along the canal and over the classically old-fashioned bridges… you can’t, nor should you want to, miss her.
Still Here by Gaia is a portrait of a contemporary Narragansett woman named Lynsea Montanari.
And that portrait is of her tribal elder, Wampanoag and Narangansett leader Princess Red Wing.
And why here at the 32 Custom House building (and the parking lot that was the former Daniels building)?
Well, it provides a sweeping view of the wall from the Weybosset bridge and river.
But also according to the City Department of Art, Culture & Tourism: “Weybosset Street was a site where three important Indian trails met.
“One coming down from the north, the second up from the southeast Mount Hope region called the Wampanoag Trail.
“And the third up from Connecticut (where I’m headed next) in the southwest called the Pequot Trail.”
Wait for it
Better still if you get to meet the artist and Lynsea as my waitress Theresa did at Hemenways across the river.
And kept me entertained with her tales of tapping maple syrup for her Dad in her native Vermont.
And explained to me the difference between New England chowder and Rhode Island chowder.
The RI is clear so without the cream although both come with crackers obvs.
Nor did she draw breath when dissecting the menu which basically was if you could see it swimming they served it.
Of course the paella was on the big side.
Because, even in the smallest state, everything is bigger in America.