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From this Issue:

A Beginner’s Guide: Running

This year has been quite the wild ride, but I still try to count all of the things that I am thankful for each and every day. One thing I have really enjoyed is how quarantine has allowed me extra time to focus on my health and lifestyle choices.

I am someone who likes to constantly be on the go and would often use the excuse that I “just didn’t have enough time” to work out. Quarantine came along, and I had nothing but time, and then I realized how many of my reasons were just excuses. I made a promise to myself when this all began that I would do more to take care of myself and better my health overall. I started running, something I have always been repulsed by if I’m being honest, and it was really hard at first. Every run is still a challenge for me, but that is honestly what I love about it. Every time I complete a run, I feel this overwhelming sense of accomplishment and I can also feel my body thanking me for taking the time to workout. Here are some tips and tricks from a true running beginner:

It doesn’t matter how fast you go, as long as you’re going

One thing I found myself obsessing over when I first started running was how fast I was going. I would see other people I knew on social media running 8-9 minute miles and I could barely get lower than 11 minutes. It made me feel discouraged and like I would never get to that point. To this day I am still struggling to get under 11 minutes, but I am still trying and I have never felt more accomplished. I will get there someday, and it will feel even greater because I know how hard I’ve worked to get to that point. When it comes to social media, always remember this: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Whenever you find that you’re comparing yourself to others, especially on social media, just remember that it’s a highlight reel and no one will ever create Instagram posts or statuses about the awful and low points in their lives. We all have chapters that we do not read out loud and this is why choosing kindness over comparison and hatred is so important.

Focus on your breathing

This is something I have yet to master, but I have gotten better. The key to running long distances is controlling your breathing and monitoring your heart rate. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth is the most effective way to calm your heart rate and slow your breathing to a more controlled rate. The most important thing to remember is this: If you feel like it’s too much or you’re gasping for air, please stop. Take a walking break and pick things back up when you’re ready. This relates back to #1, take it easy and do your best.

Proper footwear is everything

Having the proper type of shoe is so important when running. When I first began running I was using an old pair of $50 Nikes I had in my closet and let me tell you, after running a few times my legs, feet and back were so sore I could barely move. I also started to get some pain in my knee, so I knew that things had to change. Running sneakers are definitely an investment piece, so I recommend that you try out running first to see if it is something you truly enjoy before making the big purchase of new running sneakers. Personally, I selected a new pair of Brooks sneakers. Because of COVID-19 I had to take the online assessment to figure out what kind of sneaker I should be buying, but now that stores are open again I highly recommend locating an expert in your area to fit you for a pair of running sneakers. Running sneakers usually range in price from $130-$160+; however, on occasion you can get some of the styles on sale for about $100. Like I said, they are an investment piece, but they will last you many years.

Track your runs

Tracking your runs are so important for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is so you can look back and see how far you’ve come. A great running app will track your route, pace per mile, time and many other things. Personally I use the free version of the Runkeeper app and I love it! It also has a setting that will announce your mile markers to you while you are running so you know where you’re at.

Keep track of that heart rate

When you’re running, one of the most important things to keep track of is your heart rate. I have found that the easiest way to keep track of your heart rate while running is by using a smart watch. I personally use my Apple watch, but there are many ways to track heart rate while running.

I hope these tips help you should you choose to begin your running journey. Please know that I am not a qualified professional and that you should always consult with a doctor/medical professional before taking on any new or major lifestyle changes. Every journey begins with the first step and it takes weeks before a human being forms a habit. Do the best you can and don’t let comparison or worries of what others may think of you stop you from making a change that you want to make. Place your health in the front seat and take care of yourself and the one body you have been given. Happy running!

to Discover in Rhode Island

Wine & Paint on the Patio
What could be better than a nice drink and some painting fun outdoors on a lovely evening?
Host Rebecca Magnotta is part teacher, part performance artist, and everything gets kicked up a notch! Rebecca paints a large mural on on river front performance patio, and you follow along with your own 16″ x 20″ canvas that you take home!
The registration fee covers all materials and your first drink! Each week there will be a different painting, so you can come for one or join us for all 10 weeks. Members may use a Membership Mainstage Ticket. Note: Each person’s station will be set up at least 6′ apart to accommodate social distancing, and masks must be worn by all attendees. Let’s have some responsible fun! Registration is required in advance. Space
is limited.
Dates: 8/9/2020, 8/11/2020, 8/16/2020, 8/18/2020, 8/23/2020, 8/25/2020, 8/30/2020, 9/1/2020, 9/6/2020, 9/8/2020, 9/13/2020, 9/15/2020, 9/20/2020
Location: The Contemporary Theater Company
Address: 327 Main Street, Wakefield, South Kingstown,
RI 02879
Phone: (401) 218-0282

Becoming Vanderbilt: An Exhibition at Rosecliff
In a year celebrating women, Becoming Vanderbilt will shine a bright light on four of our own. The Vanderbilt men are well known for their dominance of 19th-century American industry and the staggering fortunes they amassed during the Gilded Age; meanwhile, their wives and daughters turned their talents and formidable influence to causes outside the expected domestic realm. From Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt’s philanthropy to her daughter Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s work as patron, artist and museum founder, to Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s advocacy on behalf of women’s suffrage to her daughter Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan’s benevolence, we honor the legacy of these extraordinary women.
The exhibition will draw upon holdings in the Preservation Society’s collections as well as key loans from other institutions and private collections. Through the sharing of personal effects, clothing and memorabilia, we aim to introduce deeper narratives about each woman. Subtleties about their personalities have disappeared over time, replaced by more convenient one-word descriptors. By conveying the significance of their contributions, the exhibition seeks to communicate the spirit of the times in which each woman navigated her own path.
“Becoming” has often been used to describe a woman’s appearance; however, as a process, it also describes each of our heroines’ evolution as people.

Dates: July 23, 2020 –
November 1, 2020
Recurrence: Recurring daily
Location: Rosecliff
Address: 548 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840

Museums around the world
During this uncertain time of COVID-19 and social distancing, Google has provided a wealth of free resources for people to use, one of them being free virutal museum tours around the world. The following is a direct quote from USA Today’s website:
” Google Arts and Culture partnered with over 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to offer virtual tours of their spaces. Some of the options include New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. The Louvre, based in Paris, is also offering its own virtual tour online for free.”
Visit Google’s site here –

Ride the rails with Rail Explorers
Rail Explorers offers an unforgettable scenic ride along historic Aquidneck Island and spectacular Narragansett Bay on custom built pedal-powered vehicles. The eco-friendly business is all about rail bikes and aims to provide an amazing journey using existing railroad tracks. The Rail Explorers are easy to pedal, the terrain is mostly flat and the ride is relaxing and enjoyable. Everyone can enjoy this activity: couples young and old, groups of friends, and families of all ages and abilities. The pedal powered Explorers provide a smooth and comfortable adventure suitable for all. Available from mid-May through October, the tour takes approximately 2 Hours.
Dates: June 4, 2020 –
November 15, 2020
Recurrence: Recurring daily
Location: Rail Explorers
Address: 1 Alexander Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871

Erika Houghton:Interview with the Artist & Owner of Verdant Raku

What Kind of Art do You Create?

Verdant Raku: I design, hand-build, raku-fire and sell ceramic planters for succulents/tillandsia (air plants). Each plant is thoughtfully selected to become an extension of my
sculptural pots.

Wolf and Piggy: I hand-build, display, and sell narrative ceramic sculptures and piggy banks that often highlight the humor in the every-day life of
a mom.

Where/How did your artistic journey begin?

I can recall loving to draw as early as four-years-old. My love for art continued throughout my school years. When I was in fourth grade, I took lessons at Don’s Art Shop in Warren, RI. I have such fond memories of our Saturday morning kids’ classes where we practiced perspective drawing and figures in motion. I still have my big sketchpad from that time and can look back and see the weekly progress I made under artist Don Primiano’s instruction. In middle school at Barrington Christian Academy, I
took every extracurricular art class that was offered. I particularly loved a glass-etching class taught by Dick Cady and a fashion/sewing class taught by Jamie Gregory. Barrington High School is where I discovered a love for clay and sculpting. By the end of my junior year, I had taken every art class except for ceramics. Ironically, nothing about it appealed to me, but my insightful art teacher, Irene Utterback, encouraged me to give
the course a try. She was right. I fell
in love with the clay and working in three dimension.

I built my portfolio and headed off to Messiah University, in Grantham PA, on a partial art-scholarship where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with concentrations in both ceramics and graphic design. My ceramics courses were intense with long hours spent in the studio. I was taught how to make clay from scratch—a dusty, arduous process that started with several dry ingredients before adding water and mixing through a pug machine. I, along with a team of students, also mixed up all the studio’s glaze recipes. By my senior year, I was responsible for firing the cone 10 gas reduction kiln which required around-the-clock monitoring for 24 hours each time. While I took several classes on mastering the potter’s wheel, my passion remained for hand-building, which is a ceramics term for sculpting with clay. After college, I worked for several years full-time in graphic design at Stebbings Partners. When my daughter was born, I decided to freelance from home and continued to do so until my son was born three years later. When both kids went off to school full-time, I started to get back into ceramics. In 2013, I connected with Mudstone Studios (Warren, RI) and its wonderful community of ceramic artists. There I began to formulate my own side business with my ceramic artwork. As my two lines of artwork started to take shape, I joined Made In Warren Artist Cooperative Store (Warren, RI) which began as a successful holiday pop-up in 2015 and is now in its 5th year. There, I sell my artwork as well as help to run the store. In addition to making and selling my work, I’ve taught high school ceramics at Barrington Christian Academy for the last seven years.

What is your creative process like?

The hand-building techniques that I’m
most passionate about are pinch-pots and slab. While both lines of my work look very different from one another, they both use the same techniques. Whether I’m forming a pot or a pig, I usually start with a pinch-pot. A pinch-pot is made from a ball of clay that is slowly and repetitively “pinched-and-turned” into a pot. A slab refers to the clay being rolled out and flattened until a desired thickness– for me around 3/8″. From there, I can texture the slab and build onto my pinch-pot to form the walls of my succulent planters. For the pigs, I use a slab as a base under them to anchor the scene they’re in. The firing process for the succulent planters is unique, labor-intensive, and unpredictable. It’s called “Raku.” Raku ware is a type of Japanese pottery traditionally used in Japanese Tea Ceremonies dating back to the 16th century. I typically heat the ware in a kiln to 1,900 degrees and remove the ware while still glowing hot. I place the ware in an aluminum trash can filled with combustibles such as newspaper and wood shavings. A reduction atmosphere is created by putting a lid on the trash can. The combustibles catch fire and force the reaction to pull oxygen from the glaze and the clay minerals. This leaves an iridescent luster and creates a metallic effect on the ware. Parts of the ware that are unglazed will turn a smoky black. Once the ware is cooled and cleaned, I seal it afterwards with tung oil so that the raku-fired pot can hold a plant without the monthly waterings affecting the color of the pot. Each piece is unique and I cannot recreate the color even if I wanted to.

What inspired you to start your business?

My family is my first priority, but having a side business like this provides the flexibility I need while making some money doing what I love.

Which piece is your favorite to create?

Currently, I’m excited about the jellyfish designs that hold tillandsia (air plants). I enjoy finding just the right air plant to form the tendrils. I love how well these pieces photograph and take on an “other-world” appearance. The positive response from customers and the strong sales for these are also very encouraging.

Regarding the piggy sculptures, I had a lot of fun working on an interactive piece during the initial shutdown in March. Inspired by my kids that were all of a sudden playing board games again, I sculpted a miniature hungry-hungry hippos game with three different pigs as the players. I posted photos of it in progress to social media and invited the audience to suggest the fourth player. I ended up sculpting three different options for player number four. The first option was a pig doing a handstand while playing the game (because that’s what kids do, they can’t sit still). The second option was a pig having a tantrum — also-known-as “sore-loser-piggy”— we all know one of those! The final option was a sly-looking wolf. I left it up to the viewer to decide how that game ended. Wink, wink!

What made you fall in love with being an artist?

I love to create. I believe we were designed to be creators not consumers.

Where are you based?

I either work at my home studio in Attleboro, MA or at Mudstone Studios in Warren, RI.

Bio: I grew up in Barrington, RI where I did as much art as I could get my hands on. I graduated from Messiah University (Grantham, PA) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and concentrations in graphic design and ceramics. I currently live in Attleboro, MA with my husband, two children, and a couple of well-fed guinea pigs.
instagram: @verdantraku / @wolfandpiggy