Art School(ed): A survey of Providence’s wallpapers

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Our story begins with the Eliza Ward House on the corner of Benefit and George. At night, the perceptive pedestrian might notice a glimpse of something peculiar through the window: a series of panoramic wallpapers in the house Joseph Brown, a founder of Brown University, built and designed the house for his daughter, Eliza Ward, in 1814. Ward had commissioned the woodblock-printed, full color scenes from Dufour & Cie, a French manufacturer of painted wallpapers and fabrics, and they remain to this day (thanks to thorough restorationists). Panoramic scenes transform the Bosphorus Room and the Incas Room into 19th century marvels. While the wallpaper titled “Les Rives du Bosphore” (On the Banks of the Bosporus) is loosely based on palm tree-laden landscapes of Turkey, the panel above the fireplace mantel depicts a pine-treed scene from Maine, reflecting Ward’s personal affinity for the northernmost New England state. The print “Les Incas” portrays an imagined scene of explorer Francisco Pizarro’s first encounters with the Incas. (For a more in-depth explanation of the house’s history and restoration process, check out Houzz’s Room of the Day article on the Eliza Ward House.)

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Art School(ed): Spotlight on Zio Ziegler

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Art School(ed) is a column about all things arty (e.g., exhibits, printmakers, gouache, the Rhode Island School of Design, zines, Van Gogh, that Circle Dance sculpture made out of impenetrable tinfoil, contemporary photography, Woody Allen, etc.) penned by a real, live RISD student.

Ever wonder what the story is behind Brickway on Wickenden’s kaleidoscopic walls? It all started at the behest of one guy with an alliterative name and a soft spot for breakfast food. Zio Ziegler, who studied at both RISD and Brown, dined at Brickway multiple mornings per week before class, and could not quite jibe with the primary colored walls of the restaurant. He arranged a trade with the Brickway staff: he would paint the restaurants’ walls in his signature style in exchange for free pancakes. The Brickway we know today is the product of one month of Zio Ziegler’s junior year, when he painted those psychedelic walls every evening after class until the wee hours of the morning.

 Zio Ziegler, a Mill Valley, California native, majored in Painting at RISD and graduated in 2010. Ziegler is the crazy hybrid of Picasso and Keith Haring with Haring’s itch for spray paint and Picasso’s penchant for murals. This dude’s free-spirited public art knows no bounds: it can be spotted on temporary walls, on Porsches, on the skate ramps of this past summer’s Vans US Open of Surfing, and on the walls of Facebook’s Headquarters. The guy paints any found object he can get his hands on. He painted a mural in one day in Vegas, in preparation for upcoming “Life is Beautiful” music festival, and you can peep his process. Hella cool. Continue Reading