Art on the Horizon: March 2021

By Rodger Skidmore

Get out, and get in

Early February was really cold, and March is beginning to heat up. If March winds are too cold for you, don’t go to the beach, stay indoors. But get out of YOUR indoors and go indoors at the Ringling Museum of Art.

Why? Because there is so much going on, you could spend days perusing all the exhibits that are open in this exciting new year.

The Searing Galleries is host to a 20 painting/sculpture collection titled Remaking the World: Abstraction from the Permanent Collection. All these works of abstract expressionism are supposed to speak to you.

The question is, are you listening? 

These works are not just relative to the eye of the beholder, but also to the mind of the beholder. How colors, textures and shapes generate a response in you is what is important.

An abstract expressionism show about 50 years ago at the Whitney Museum in New York featured an entire gallery of Robert Motherwell paintings. The four or five 15-foot-wide by 10-foot-high paintings that were on display left no room in that exhibit space for anyone else’s painting. Each was a pure white canvas, which Motherwell had apparently lain on the floor and then taken a bucket of black paint and splooshed it from lower right to upper left — each just a bit different. One viewer’s response was to ask, “Which had Motherwell run out of first? Canvas, white paint, or black paint?”

The Motherwell displayed at the Ringling is more complex and therefore more appealing. A painting in this show that is as monumental as one of Motherwell’s at the Whitney, but much more pleasing, is Infinity of Dots by Yayoi Kusama.

In another of the Searing Galleries, there’s a series of mixed-media prints portraying scenes from the Boston Massacre. Not of the recent one during the Boston Marathon, but our very own American Revolution. Being abstract, these scenes from 250 years ago have been re-imagined using imagery from the political unrest of the 1960s.

Going back another 120 years takes us to the time of the Dutch painter Frans Hals, whose works are, coincidently, being shown in another Searing Gallery, in an exhibition organized by the Dallas Museum. 

Want to see something a bit more active (and tragic)? Get tickets to see the March 4 showing of a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, at the Historic Asolo Theater. Get more info at Ringling.org.

The Sound of Music is not playing this month …

at least not in Sarasota. Many think that The Sound of Music is one of the longest-running musicals of all time. But if you want to hear wonderfully orchestrated music that have been playing (and appreciated) for ages, then you’ll want to listen to the Key Chorale’s presentation of Celebration: Mozart & Haydn, streaming from March 5 through March 28. 

We’ve read of the competition between Mozart and Salieri. Popular literature says that they hated each other, or that Mozart held Salieri in contempt. The truth is, while one represented a new musical approach and the other, the old, they did work together. Salieri conducted Mozart’s Coronation Mass for the coronation of King Leopold II of Bohemia in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague back in 1792. As this is not 1792, Joseph Caulkins will be replacing Antonio Salieri as conductor for this mass. It is often referred to as a Missa brevis (short mass) due to its length, but it does include all six text sections of the Ordinary Mass.

Just six years later Haydn was busy writing a new mass (one of the 14 that he wrote), the Missa In Augustiis (A Mass for Troubled Times). An apt title considering Napoleon Bonaparte was threatening to march on Vienna. When, on the works premiere, the audience heard of Napoleon’s defeat in the Battle of the Nile by forces led by Admiral Nelson, it is no wonder that the title was then updated to the Lord Nelson Mass

The music being presented by The Artist Series of Sarasota at Benderson Park, the afternoon of March 7, has a direct connection to Mozart’s Coronation Mass — the mass features a trombone section and the Rick Costa Sextet is doing a tribute to the music of the trombone king, Glen Miller. The concert features singer Walt Andrus. Andrus has his own trombone connection — back in the day, he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, led at that time by Buddy Morrow, both being trombone greats in their own right (Glen Miller got his start in the TD Orchestra). Get info at Artistseriesconcerts.org.

Good News

Good News was a musical that opened on Broadway back in 1927. It was a hit. So, what’s the good news today? That musicals are back. Not on Broadway, but right here, this March, in Sarasota. The first is already in production at the Asolo Rep, next to the Ringling Museum. It is Fannie — The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer. Well, not actually a musical as it is billed as a play with music.

In a one-woman show it’s easy for E. Faye Butler to do social distancing when she’s the only one on the stage. The action takes place in 1964 when Mrs. Hamer, known as the Mother of Voter Registration, attended the Democratic National Convention representing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Mrs. Hamer tells her story through poetically styled storytelling, with force and gusto. It’s ending March 3 so call for tickets right now. 

Also at the Asolo Rep, previewing March 17 and 18 and opening March 19, and continuing through April 1, is Lerner & Lowe’s Camelot. This musical, about the magical land of King Arthur, Queen Guenevere, and Sir Lancelot, won four Tony awards in 1960. This streamlined concert version features all new orchestrations. Both of these shows will be presented outdoors at the Asolo Rep Terrace Theatre, just right for spring evenings in Florida. Ticket info for both shows is at AsoloRep.org.

Starting a bit later in the month (March 24 through April 25) is the Florida Studio Theatre production of a brand new show, Vintage POP,  starring Carole J. Bufford, a perennial favorite at the FST’s summer cabaret. Since this is spring, and not summer, the show will be on the main stage at the Keating Theatre.

Songs like “St. Louis Blues” will bring back many memories, but so will ones like “A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ on.”

Yes, Ella Fitzgerald to Creedence Clearwater Revival will also bring back memories. 

Beginning March 31 at FST’s Gompertz Theatre will be a musical revue titled Three Pianos showcasing rock-star oriented songs made famous by Carole King, Billy Joel, and Stevie Wonder. Info for both is at Floridastudiotheatre.org.

     Another outdoor venue for these wonderful warm Sarasota nights is at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s theatre on North Orange Avenue at 12th Street, through March 14. A revolving cast of singers will be showcased in this great selection of rock and soul hits.

That was the good news. The even better news is that Henry Washington and Raleigh Mosely, two of the great stylists at the WBTT who can really put over a song, will be featured. Ticket info is at Westcoastblacktheatre.org.