Try Something New at The Steel Yard

The Steel Yard, located in the industrial valley of Providence, allows aspiring artists or anyone who wants to learn something new to take classes in many different art and technical programs as a way of fulfilling its goal: to create a community where individuals can practice arts with others.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the associate director, Islay Taylor, and the communications and events manager, Chris Dalpe. Islay (pronounced Eye-Lah), is in charge of working with the class instructors, students and professional artists, and she also runs the educational portion of the yard and does job training. Chris handles public projects and The Steel Yard’s website and social media, and is the ideal person to tell the story of the Yard’s history.

The Steel Yard consists of a 3.8-acre courtyard used as a venue for events and available to artists who want to use it. It also has open studios, and anyone who takes a course gets access to them. Artists are encouraged to join the residency program where they can strengthen their practices. In order to make all these resources available to a variety of people, scholarships are offered to those who are interested in taking a course.

Through its public projects, The Steel Yard collaborates with artists to create public sculptures that are functional and interesting to look at. Public projects allow art to be intertwined with everyday life. The sculptures range from bike racks to trash cans to benches. Some of these public projects can be seen in North Kingstown or Providence.

Islay is focused on creating jewelry, and for a while she was an instructor of one the many classes offered. “I love the idea of sharing. I paid so much money for an education, but I can give that here,” she says. Islay became interested in jewelry work after she realized that the tools needed to create other, larger objects were hard to come by after she was out of college. “Creating jewelry allowed me to do the same thing I was doing before, just on a smaller scale with more accessible tools.” She has her own studio practice and makes giant necklaces that are shown in museums or galleries.

Steel Yard classes are offered in ceramics, blacksmithing, iron casting, welding and jewelry-making. A class featured is a “build your own firepit” class, which teaches people how to make their own cozy backyard sanctuary.

Islay has taken many ceramics classes as well as a mold-making class. “I realized it’s very hard for me to make ceramics because I keep ending up with an ashtray-looking object,” she says. Chris, on the other hand, is new to The Steel Yard and has yet to take a class. “I’ll be participating in a two-day welding class, which I’m very excited about! All new first-hand experiences,” he expresses.

When asked which was the most popular class, they told me that all classes are popular, but blacksmithing seems to be the most popular. “You really can’t find those tools or that space elsewhere,” said Chris.

The Steel Yard is a very popular place during the summer months and it’s packed almost every weekend. Check out the Leadership RI Block Party, which will take place June 7 at 5pm. The event is free and will have food, drinks, music and work from all departments of The Steel Yard.

Shosha: Comfy Clothes for Goal-Setters

Shosha, a hip, urban clothing company from Providence, is run by a 28-year-old who goes by the name of Lex Effects. Her company creates strictly comfy, everyday wear for youths and young adults who are going after their goals.

Lex learned graphic design in college, but was always into designing. Even in high school she found ways to express herself in her style. “I always embellished or changed my clothing to make it unique, so it was kind of an expression for myself,” she says. Choosing to create her own clothing line was not a hard decision.

The name of her company comes from the Japanese term meaning winners. I asked how she thought of the name, and she told me a simple story. “My friend from Japan came to visit and I was showing him around Providence when I asked him what the word for winner was in Japanese. He said shosha, so I decided to name the company that.”

Lex wants her clothing to be worn by those chasing after their goals or those who are winners. As written on her website, “It’s the daily apparel for those in the pursuit of fulfilling their goals.”

The icon for the company is something different than what is typically seen on the streets today. It’s a character with a bright smile, sunglasses, a bowtie and a fun hair curl. “The big smile is welcoming, the bow tie is classic, the curl is kinda fun and the sunglasses are futuristic. My friend drew it and I altered the colors.”

Lex is very hands-on when it comes to the production of her clothes. She shops for and buys all of her products herself, but has a printer in East Providence. “I’m very hands-on when it comes to the production of my clothes. I’ll go over to my printer and help out over there,” she says.

If you’re chasing your goals and visions, Shosha clothes might be for you. Comfy, everyday wear is something that is perfect for anyone of all ages. Comfy is the new professional.

For those looking for a little comfy in their lives, Lex has a trade show in Los Angeles on June 10, then has a follow-up pop-up gallery at Mad Dog Gallery in Pawtucket on June 23-24. shosha.online




Mike’s Ice Hits the Cold Stone Pavement

A new Providence-based food truck has hit the scene, bringing ice cream loving Rhode Islanders something different: Mike’s Ice is now serving up Thai-style ice cream to Little Rhody.

Thai-style ice cream, also known as stir-fried ice cream, is a form of made-to-order ice cream. It starts off as a liquid ice cream base that is poured onto a freezing surface of about -10 to -15 degrees Fahrenheit. It is tossed around a bit on the surface while mix-ins, such as Oreos, Reese’s cups and peanuts, are added. After the ice cream freezes, it is spread out flat onto the cold surface and scraped up with a spatula into the iconic rolls that define Thai-style ice cream.

Major Pettaway, co-founder of Mike’s Ice, explained that he got the idea to serve this kind of ice cream when he was watching Thai kickboxing videos. A commercial came on for a very popular form of ice cream being made in the streets of Thailand. The sound of metal scraping metal as liquid ice cream was moved along a cold pan and mixed with flavorings caught Pettaway’s attention.

At the time, Pettaway and his business partner, Sadam J. Salas, were planning to start a frozen yogurt business. But the commercial Pettaway saw got them thinking, and they decided to bring Rhode Islanders something they’ve never seen before. Pettaway and Salas ordered the necessary equipment, taught themselves how to make the ice cream and practiced it until they could do it perfectly.

Mike’s Ice serves about seven different flavors of ice cream that all have unique names, such as #yolo, which is a chocolate base with brownie, chocolate fudge and chocolate chips. There’s also a #relationshipgoals flavor, which is an original base with peanut butter, Reese’s cups and fudge. The hashtag names definitely help the business connect with something that Millennials know all too well.

I tried the #instagood, a vanilla base with Oreo and chocolate chip cookie mixed in. The ice cream had half of an Oreo and chocolate chip cookie on top and the whole thing was drizzled with delicious fudge. But this ice cream wasn’t just a pretty face; it was scrumptious. The cookies mixed in was a great bonus and I must admit, their chocolate chip cookie was one of the best I’ve eaten. Not only was the ice cream spectacular, the staff on the truck were extremely friendly and seemed happy to be doing what they were.

Their ice cream is only part of the Mike’s Ice mission, though. Mike’s Ice was started in honor of Michael Gnoato, a friend of the co-founders, who passed away in August 2013. “We all grew up together,” Pettaway said. “So we wanted to dedicate [it] in his name.”

Not only did the three grow up together, they all served our country in different branches of the military. “We fall into that demographic,” Pettaway said, explaining that he served in the Army and Salas serves in the Navy. Because of their ties with the military, customers can make donations to Mike’s Ice that Pettaway and Salas will give select military and veteran groups in Rhode Island. “It’s not an average ice cream truck,” Pettaway said of their philanthropic plans. It’s ice cream for a cause.

With a staff of five, the company plans to serve Thai ice cream all over Providence and at private events. “That’s the beauty of being a food truck,” said Pettaway describing his business’ mobility.

Mike’s Ice opened officially on July 1, so keep an eye out for them to hit a community near you soon. More information about them can be found at mikesicetruck.com. Locations and some added information can be found at their facebook and twitter accounts: fb.com/mikesicetruck and twitter.com/mikesicetruck

Van’s Warped Tour Preview


Since summer 1995, The Vans Warped Tour has traveled the US bringing some of the best rock, punk and alternative music to fans all over the nation (including some stops in Canada). This summer will be no different. With what people are saying is one of the best line-ups since 2012, Warped Tour will be back to play the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts, on July 13.

Over 70 bands tour with the festival, so there is more than enough music, sets and genres to go around. There’s a little bit of everything mixed in and everyone who goes no doubt will find something they enjoy. On top of the bands, there are many different booths, meet & greets and things to do besides checking out some killer bands.

While I’m upset some favorites won’t be at the Mansfield date, such as 3OH!3 and Good Charlotte, there will still be amazing bands ready to give you a performance of a lifetime. For a lot of bands, Warped Tour is something that kicks off their career, so there are always many different newcomers on the tour that are excited to show people what they’ve got. So, even if you don’t know their name, if you have some time, check out their set. They are more than likely to surprise you and who knows, you may find your new favorite band! But, as always, there are bands on the tour that are easily recognizable and have established themselves in the alternative world. And there are a few on this year’s tour that you should not miss.

Top 10 Bands to See at Warped Tour Mansfield (in no particular order):

  1. Four Year Strong — Four Year Strong will definitely be in their element on the July 13 date as it will be their “hometown” show (they’re from Worcester, it’s close enough). They’re one of those bands that will have you headbanging and dancing at the same time and they are worth the time to watch their set.
  2. New Found Glory — If you’re looking for a good rock set to jam out to, New Found Glory has what you want. With high energy songs that will have you jumping to every beat, they know exactly what they are doing, having been around this scene for a long time. 
  3. Reel Big Fish — This ska (combination of Caribbean mento, calypso, American jazz and rhythm and blues) punk band definitely brings something different and highly enjoyable to their sets. They are well known for their high energy shows. This is absolutely not a set to miss at this year’s Warped Tour.
  4. We The Kings — If this doesn’t bring you back to your middle school years, I cannot tell you what could. We The Kings have been around for a while and while nothing beats their classics like “Check Yes Juliet,” their new stuff is amazing. They are a very humble band and never fail to put on a killer performance.
  5. Yellowcard — Another band that many people grew up listening to, very well known for their song “Ocean Avenue.” It’s amazing getting to hear songs that you grew up listening to being played live. Even if you don’t know any other songs by Yellowcard, it is worth it to watch their set just to hear “Ocean Avenue.” This is especially a set not to miss considering that they will be releasing their final album and going off on their final tour this fall, so it may be one of the last chances to see such an amazing band play live.
  6. Sum 41 — While Sum 41 has been around for 20 years, their music still kicks some major butt. When it comes down to it, they have always been a rock band and they know how to rock out. That alone is a reason you cannot miss their performance at Warped.
  7. Tonight Alive — If you’re looking for strong female vocals and an absolutely killer performance, this band is definitely one to check out. They’re from Australia and their lead singer, Jenna McDougall, brings a high energy performance that has the entire crowd entranced. And their music is A+, high energy with some amazing lyrics that tells a story. Their sets always amaze me.
  8. Falling In Reverse — There isn’t much one can say about this post-hardcore band besides the fact that they know how to run the stage. Ronnie Radke, the frontman, has gone through a lot in his life, yet still knows how to show people what a good time is about with music that gets a crowd going. They aren’t for everyone, but if you like them, you will enjoy seeing them live.
  9. The Maine — This pop-punk band have definitely made their name in the alternative world. Their music spans the genre, having darker songs mixed in with some lighter and upbeat songs. Their songs tell a story, are personal and relatable. This band does it for themselves and because of that, they end up doing it for everyone else, too. They’re humble and know how to put on a good show, so this set is one that has to be seen.
  10. Issues & Set It Off — Okay, so these two bands are very different but I wanted them both on the list because they are that kind of band that you just get drawn to. Issues is a metalcore band who put on a very high energy set. Set It Off is a pop punk/rock band that know what they are doing up on stage. Both bands have addicting music that makes you want to come back for more.