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Arts on the Horizon

By Rodger Skidmore

Water, water everywhere…and what is one to think

     Like so many things, we have a love/hate relationship with water. We love a tall glass of water with bits of ice floating in it. Add a contaminant, like scotch, and we love it even more. Add some week old warm broccoli juice (which is mostly water) and we hate it. Dive into the stuff in a pool or in the Gulf and we love it. But if just a little bit is in the air we say it is “muggy” and go inside where the air conditioning takes it out. Balance, of course, is the key. 

     So, go towards Sarasota Bay, but not into it. And don’t look at the water, or even at pictures of water. Instead, look at pictures made of water, of colored water. Yes, pictures made with colored water, where the colored water has dried into pleasing shapes upon textured paper. Yes, go to the Sarasota Art Center and look at the watercolors of Judy Saltzman. True, some of these landscapes contain images of water, but the water, which looks wet, has dried. It is the artistry of Ms. Saltzman which lets you think you are walking down a leafy, shady trail, alongside the proverbial babbling brook, in one of our National Parks. Lets you almost feel the cool breeze caress your cheek, if not ruffle your hair. If it actually does ruffle your hair, have no fear, it is just the AC taking the mugginess out of the humid air that crept into the Art Center when you held the door on your way in, for the person behind you. So really, everything is cool, pleasing, and coming into balance. At least until August 23rd.

     Remember when your mom or dad used to get out the slide projector, with an entire carousel of photos of your car trip to Bayonne, New Jersey? Well, now you don’t have to sit in your living room, in the dark, with five other people looking at snapshots on the wall. Now you can look at them on your smart phone, while being rude to the person across from you at lunch, on Instagram. How is this better? Well, for starters, the Instagram shots on display in Gallery Two at Art Center Sarasota have had all the blurry ones of Aunt Minnie removed. What’s left are the best shots from 16 members of the Florida Collective.

     Caitlin Albritton’s Gym Series – Let’s Get Physical – full of lots of bendy people being very angular – is on display in Gallery Three, while Gallery Four contains the juried show titled Natural Selection. Beware of gators. Information on all these shows at www.artsarasota.org.

One of the things….

     There are many things to like about the Urbanite Theatre – the ever changing seating arrangements which suit the different stage settings, the stage settings which set the scene for the actors, the actors and their vibrant portrayals, etc. One special Urbanite Thing is the window that their plays open on worlds that are not one’s natural habitat. Of course, this being America there is quite a wide spectrum of natural habitats from which to choose, but we are not talking about America, we are talking about Sarasota in 2019. The visible spectrum of worlds which one could inhabit here in 1999 would have been much narrower and the spectrum in New York today is probably much broader. This is partly due to the number of people living in our community – the more people living near you, the more you can find that are somewhat similar to you and your niche. That is why you find better bagels in New York and better lutefisk in Wisconsin. But at the Urbanite Theatre they aren’t doing comedy about what strange (to others) things people eat, but the strange (to some) ways of being, seeing, acting, thinking, enjoying, fearing, and responding to real and perceived differences that bombard us in our day to day lives, and in our most fearful moments, from those other people and from within ourselves. 

     Long Day’s Journey into Night, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Death of a Salesman did not address the terrors of their day when they premiered, they only addressed those terrors that people were willing to face. Today, for good or ill, is a different time and place. And the time and place is from now until August 25th at the Urbanite Theatre where the regional premiere of Stacey Gregg’s play Scorch is being presented. Summer Dawn Wallace is directing Amber McNew in this play about a gender-curious teen in a gender-fluid world. Not necessarily our world, but one that could be ours, or the world of someone we know and, thus, a world worth inhabiting for an hour or so. Not to see if we could live in that world (although we might) but to see how others might live there and what it would take (and take from them) to do so. More information about this play that appeared at the Edinburgh and Adelaide Fringe Festivals is at Urbanitetheatre.com.

Watch the Elasmobranchii and smile

     Everyone likes to be happy so great big smiles are in order to celebrate Shark Days at Mote Marine August 7th – 10th. There are over 400 species of sharks (elasmobranchii) and, because they have very big mouths, a lot of them look like they are smiling. Of course if you meet up with the wrong ones, you won’t be – but most don’t bother us if we don’t bother them. The largest is the whale shark which can measure up to 65 feet in length and weigh close to 75,000 pounds. They could swallow us but, not to worry, they only eat crustaceans and plankton. 

     Just as there are many types of sharks, there are a number of ways to learn about them. Mote Marine Labs is sponsoring a discussion session on the rooftop of the Sage SRQ, on First Street, called The Art of Saving Sharks, from 6 till 7:30 p.m., on August 7th as part of their Mote Science Café series. Jack Morris, senior biologist at the Mote, and Kelly Quinn, wildlife artist, will be leading the discussion on how art and the media can aid in conservation. On the 8th Heidi Stavinga, an alcohol ink artist, will be in residence at Mote Aquarium, next to the SharkTracker exhibit, between 1 a.m. and 2 p.m. showing how to bend an abstract art form into something representational. There will be a children’s craft table from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. On the 10th, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. one can do yoga with the sharks, overlooking the SharkTracker exhibit. The sharks will be there but don’t hold their poses for long. 

     We don’t ever want to get bitten by sharks but feeding them is another thing. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays one can do just that starting at 11am in the Mote’s shark zone. Bonnethead sharks will be there along with their pettable cousins, the stingrays (who knew they were related – other than ichthyologists?). More ichthyological, and specific elasmobranchii information at mote.org/events.

NOTE: Guitarist Nate Najar and jazz singer Daniela Soledade, appear at the Court Cabaret on August 12th at 7:30 p.m.