WaterFire, Providence, RI, is a sculpture that is situated above the surface of 3 rivers that course through the downtown area of this southern New England state capital city.
It is an ongoing installation of 100 evening fires designed originally by the artist Barnaby Evans as First Fire in the year 1994. A scientist by his studies, Evans has more than 20 years working principally as an artist in the creation of onsite sculptures like this one, as well as photography. WaterFire is his most well known work. Art supporters lobbied the artist to make the work permanent and by 1999 one hundred of the braziers were installed and Waterfire was in place.
A non-profit arts organization, also called WaterFire, was founded in 1997. It raises donations to maintain the living sculpture. The sculpture illuminates the riverside at night with burning wood generated flames leaping from the braziers installed over the water. In the Water Place Park, volunteers can be found collecting contributions to refuel and keep the fire burning. They are stationed at illuminated columns of blue balloons along the river front.
Full lightings are scheduled, usually for several Saturdays in the spring, summer and fall, often accompanied by live jazz and ballroom music in the park along the river. There are also recorded soundtracks that accompany the sculpture along the river front walkway that the artist selects as part of the event. They change with each lighting event that occurs.
Scheduled events can be cancelled due to increment weather so if one is traveling to see a lighting event they had best inform themselves on likely weather conditions in advance.
WaterFire, Providence, RI lighting begins on scheduled evenings just after sunset. The fires remain ablaze into the early morning hours after midnight. Each lighting event usually has a main corporate sponsor or funding organization that help make it possible.
Sometimes there are partial lightings funded along a limited area.
Each lighting uses more than 100 volunteers to make it happen. Volunteers are also sought and required in an ongoing basis throughout the year to keep the sculpture operational for the nights that it lights the water front.
WaterFire, Providence, RI began a new initiative in 2009 to fill the braziers with flowers during day hours.
The park near the braziers is wheelchair accessible and in addition Waterfire has two boats, the Fez and the Scimitar, that allow close up experiences for people in wheelchairs. Advance reservations for these boats are required as space is limited.
There are numerous parking lots nearby for visitors to these events.
In order to hire labor, pay insurance, music rights, transportation, maintain the braziers, boats and docks as well as materials including firewood $1.8 million is required annually as well as its volunteer labor.