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Arts on the Horizon

By Rodger Skidmore

September Song

     One of the lines in that Kurt Weill/Maxwell Anderson song is Oh, it’s a long long while from May to December. Yes, from May to December can seem like quite some time if it’s only the beginning of May, and awfully short if you’re already entering December. And, if it’s the last few days before (insert name of holiday here) and you haven’t gotten all the gifts you need, then it’s really time to panic. What is one to do? Hiring a personal shopper is one approach and moving to Patagonia is another – it’s summer in Patagonia (high of 72ºF) – so that’s actually not too bad of an idea. Another solution is – buy some stuff now – or at least as soon as you can. Please, finish drinking your coffee and reading this newspaper. 

     The first step in buying a present for someone is to look for something to buy. Sounds easy but actually it can be a bit of a drag. So many places to look. Luckily, others have already been looking for you. Last May, a call went out to many artists throughout America to submit entries for the Sarasota Art and Handmade Home Show being held this December (November 30th – December 2nd) at Robarts Arena (Ringling Blvd, east of Tuttle). If you would rather attend the American Fine Craft Show that has been held at about this same every year, that’s quite OK, because it is the same show, just with a name change. Seems like they would like to emphasize the fact that the items on display are actually made by hand – the hands of the artists selling the items at the show. Yes, you get to meet the people who made these precious works of personal art before you purchase them.

     So, what are these 25 artists showing this year? Oops, not 25, it’s one hundred and twenty-five artists showing their work – you can attend for one day or for all three depending upon how many gifts you need to buy for friends and family (and don’t forget, for yourself). So many one of a kind items are available: carved and lathed wooden objects (Steven Potts’ work comes to mind), and Bling, yes there is plenty of jewelry by Sarasota artist Vicki Rollo and others, to satisfy anyone with great taste. And how about a Parker Converse custom built rocking chair – bet your special giftee won’t get two of these. Wearables are always in fashion, (“wearable” as in fabric and leather), and the sculpted pieces of glass, metal, ceramics and combinations thereof are quite extraordinary. Info at: sarasotaartandhandmadehomeshow.com.

Give me a break

     Art, when you first experience it, is something that strikes your senses in a new way – if that makes any sense. And, for the Ringling Museum, that art does not have to be hung on the wall or set upon a pedestal in the rose garden. Art, in many, many ways, can strike your ears, just as surely as it can startle your eyes, on its way to your brain. Break dancing to music and spoken poetry is one of these many ways. In his new work, Point of Interest, Raphael Xavier brings together a transcendent mix of movement in a mesmerizing take on hip hop and breaking. 

     As a Guggenheim Fellow, Xavier has given a new prospective on this street bravado form of competitive dance that has only been associated in the past with youth. His multi-generational methodology illustrates a sustainability for this highly physical dance technique. A spinal infection paralyzed him temporally in 2007, forcing him to alter his approach to dance and to create new ways to move that could be creative and heal simultaneously. It is said that his understanding of movement, sound and musicality allows him to structure noises and sounds into captivating music that draws upon emotion and  coincides with his choreography. As part of The Ringling’s New Stages series he will bring his team for solo, duet and quintet performances on November 30th and December 1st. Interested in learning about various breaking movements? Join Xavier in a Conversation the morning of Dec. 1st, in the Chao Lecture Hall at the Center for Asian Art, as he distills the art of breaking and discusses the importance of spoken word and poetry within his piece.

     For timely art in a more traditional mode there will be two sessions at the Ringling on Dec. 13th when there is a Gallery Walk & Talk about The Nativity. There is a great deal of beautiful art on the walls of this museum that one can pass by while admiring only their beauty. Having a docent or curator discuss the meaning of these paintings and why they were painted can be so much more meaningful.

     And speaking of gift giving for the holiday season, as we were above, there is a series of trunk shows in the Ringling Museum store December 7 – 9 with handbags, jackets, jewelry, chocolates (eatable, not wearable), and ceramics. More info at Ringling.org.

The art of bowling

     Knowledgable football players know that ballet dancers are more fit, have greater stamina, and use more muscles than they do – baseball players and golfers don’t even come close. Each field of endeavor brings its own challenges and those who participate bring their own set of skills into play. With those who bowl it is not brute strength but rather precision, focus and artistry. Yes, artistry. Just as ballet dancers use certain muscle groups to spin on their toes and then perform a beautiful grand jeté, those who bowl should have a vision and then slowly and artfully spin their clay, or carve their wood, into an exquisite bowls. 

     The most beautiful bowls at this time of year are those that are created for Bowls of Hope and are used to feed the spirits of those who wish to give hope to others. Each year over 1,500 Sarasotians buy bowls that are hand crafted by local potters, artists and students. They then have them filled with delicious soups, breads, desserts, and more by over 40 of Sarasota’s finest restaurants and caterers. This marriage of beautiful giving and delicious food is performed, as always, by All Faiths Food Bank. This year’s Bowls of Hope event is being held December 2nd at Ed Smith Stadium, on 12th Street between Euclid and Tuttle from 11AM to 2PM.

     What is wonderful about the All Faiths approach is that they do not take the funds collected at this event to buy food for the hungry in Sarasota and DeSoto counties. Instead they use the money to collect donations from the food and grocery industries, local growers and food drives. They then inspect, store and distribute food to where it is needed most. This food is provided to those in need at food pantries, soup kitchens, schools, youth organizations and senior centers. While these activities are labor intensive, a great deal of the work is done by volunteers, which furthers the aims of this Sarasota community outreach program. More information about how to give or receive and to see how you can help, go to Allfaithsfoodbank.org. And, for a fun activity, go bowling on Dec. 2nd.