“It was really interesting…” That’s Bob Mariani’s favorite phrase to describe the work of the Creative Communications Club of Providence (CCCP), and it might be the most apt way to describe the club, of which Mariani is founder and president. The CCCP started “very unintentionally,” according to Mariani who called a few friends to get together for drinks one night. One hundred people showed up and told Mariani that he needed to do it again. As the group was built largely of people from the advertising industry, he discovered that there was a strong interest in all aspects of the creative processes, so that became the club’s theme.
Each month CCCP features a different speaker. “We’ve had a vast variety of speakers; the range of speakers is truly amazing,” says Mariani. Treasurer Ron Schmidt says, “We’ve talked to various folks who are interested in the creative club… you know, its eclectic.” They’ve had tap dancers, stone carvers, magicians, a gentleman on the forefront of chainless bicycles and Waterfire creator Barnaby Evans. “To hear this woman who is a stone carver talk about the spirituality of what she does is really an enlightening evening for us. These revelations, if you will, are the reasons people keep coming back and enjoy our meetings every month,” says Schmidt.
Schmidt describes the meetings as “sort of a salon style. The artist gets to talk a little bit about what they do, some of their business concerns, all sorts of anecdotal information, but then our members get to ask them questions.” As Mariani and Schmidt reminisce about their favorite events, it’s clear that the CCCP is also about something more. Mariani notes, “[The members] get to meet up with each other. These days so many people work in isolated situations and they don’t interact face-to-face.”
Last month’s meeting featured speakers from Ten31 Productions: Joe Pari, co-founder and performer and Shannon Heneghan, five-year veteran performer. If passion and creativity are what the CCCP look for, these two had it in abundance. While Pari described the group’s origins, building from their original gargoyle creations that first debuted at Waterfire, Heneghan started the transformation process. “There were tears behind the mask. And it was this overwhelming sense of ‘yes,’ this rightness. And I think that’s part of the creative process when you feel that yes, this is what I’ve been trying to do.”
Pari went on to proudly show off photos of living installations, including mermaids, 1930s tennis players, topiaries, muses and more, describing the process of creating each. And while Pari spoke, to the amazement of those present, Heneghan transformed her face into the character known as High Society Woman.
“People really do enjoy and appreciate the arts and the performing arts,” Heneghan said. “But I think it’s sometimes hard to convince people that they should dedicate a Saturday evening to enjoying the arts… But the kind of art we do, it’s really the kind of art that you stumble upon… The arts really do stir something in people; it’s what they were intended to do all along and when you stumble upon a statue that you thought a moment ago was really a statue and you realize it’s a person, I think people connect to that and they realize that they enjoy it. It’s really what street art is great at.”
Pari himself clearly lives for the creative process. “You can have the idea you want in your head. If you don’t do something with it – if you just don’t start – it will never come out of your head and the world will never get to enjoy it,” he says.
The CCCP has an exciting line-up for the spring season. Slated to appear are stone carver Tracy Mahaffey, author of Truth in Advertising John Kenney and National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live writer, Brian McConnachie.
At the end of the meeting, it seemed as if everyone was in agreement with one of Schmidt’s favorite sayings: “That was a lot of fun.” And it seems there is much more fun to come. The CCCP encourages anyone who is interested to check out their website and attend one of their upcoming sessions. Fees paid for individual events will be applied toward the cost of club membership, so you can pay as you go if you decide to stay.