By Rodger Skidmore
And now for something completely different
A couple of years back Tony Bennett played the Van Wezel here in Sarasota. And here he is again. When you open a really good bottle of wine it tastes wonderful. Put the cork back in and sample it a week later and, sorry, its on its way to becoming vinegar. But sample a really good bottle of cognac (or better still, armagnac) and you can go back again and again. It warms you and makes everything else good as well. Armagnac, France was, back in the day, under Roman rule and Anthony Benedetto is of Italian extraction so there is actually a geographic connection as well as the fact that the drink and the man can age extremely well. Mr. Bennett has gone through many phases (collecting 19 Grammies along the way). He became famous singing popular ballads but has achieved critical acclaim with his jazz tinted easy listening work. So, if you want to lean back and hear songs like The Shadow of Your Smile, I Left My Heart in San Francisco and Fly Me to the Moon, on Friday, September 8th at the Van Wezel you should be in for quite a treat. When the last mentioned song was performed in Atlanta and the Albert Hall in London, it was done without a microphone and only a guitar to back up Mr. Bennett. A great close to a great act. The show opened with his daughter, Antonia, warming up the audience with a handful of standards. Check out www.vanwezel.org/boxoffice/tony-bennett/.
For music that is completely different, go to the Van Wezel on a different Friday – Friday, September 15th to be exact – and hear Reverend Barry & The Funktastic Soul. They are appearing for free on the Friday Fest stage on the grounds of the Van Wezel. While Tony Bennett is inside at 8:00 PM the week before, Reverend Barry and his music will be on the outside from 5 until 9 PM – weather permitting. If you are of a certain age, your music will be the music they play – dance hits originally done by James Brown, Kool & the Gang, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Earth, Wind & Fire. While the Van Wezel is not big on dancing in the aisles, there is no problem doing it outside on the south lawn. The Funktastic Soul is an 8 piece funk and soul band that will be playing with their core group, the Hellacious Horns, as they do at many venues around Sarasota and St. Petersburg. Vocal solos are handled by Yaya Diamond, Reverend Barry and lead guitarist Chet Gass. So listen to Barry and his friends and get your groove on.
September isn’t big enough
Art Center Sarasota is having an opening reception on August 31st (from 5 – 7 PM) for four new exhibitions. Three of those gallery shows run until October 6th so even if you don’t come and visit with the artists for the opening reception on the last day of August, you’ve got more than a month to get over to 707 N. Tamiami Trail, just south of the Van Wezel, for these shows. The first is a solo by Carol Prusa, entitled Thin Spaces, which was on display in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this year. Ms. Prusa, based in Boca Raton, works in ceramics, clay, paper and acrylic domes. Her work is in the permanent collection of a number of museums, including the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC and the Talfair in Savannah. Each of her pieces, especially her silverpoint drawn domes, can take hundreds of hours of meticulous work to complete. To see Ms. Prusa and her technique go to YouTube and enter Carol Prusa Methods and Materials or Carol Prusa Silver Universe. Enjoy.
In Gallery II, another solo show contains paintings by local artist Lowell Gilbertson. These “modern realism” paintings depict biblical stories in a world without men and range from Adamina and Eve (who are proud rather than ashamed of the knowledge they received) to Christine, daughter of God, and on to Mermaid Emerging (from the Gulf of Mexico on the beach on Siesta Key). Gilbertson uses a special acrylic paint imported from Italy, made with a recipe hundreds of years old. A number of these paintings were created before live audiences at local night spots.
Gallery III focuses on the photographs of Giovanni Lunardi, the fashion photographer, in a show called “Every Subject a New Obsession”. These black and white photos have been selected as being representative of his 50 year career, capturing subjects from his home town of Parma, Italy to his current life in Sarasota – candid street photographs, fashion shots and landscapes. His eye, trained in the crisp light of the Ligurian Apennines, helps to highlight his subjects at his local photography studio in north Sarasota, as well as the art he creates here and around the world. See representations of his work at www.Lunardi.com.
The latest in an ongoing series of peer-juried shows, this one entitled Line, Form & Color, is in Gallery IV. The artists, usually from the greater Sarasota area, who submit their work have created their art in every form of media – stone and glass sculpture, oil paintings and watercolor, carved wood, dry point etchings, photographs and more, and in every conceivable style. Given that a new show of this type appears at Art Center Sarasota every few months, it is quite astonishing how often a gem appears to take a well deserved prize.
Decoupage is often a layering of photos or cut-outs from magazines – sometimes like a painting and sometimes to decorate a cigar box or a wooden tray. This month’s decoupage is a layering of art exhibits at the Ringling College of Art and Design. The base layer is that of Jeffery Cornwell, at the Patricia Thompson Gallery; his show runs thru the 22nd of September. His work has been exhibited in galleries in the Southeast, Texas and California and is in many private collections. Cornwell is an active member of SARTQ artists and an Adjunct Art Instructor teaching two and three dimensional studio art at Booker High School. In addition, he is the coordinator of the Ringling’s Summer Teen Studio program. Many of his acrylic paintings on canvas or panel board explore the relationship between sky and land and could be considered reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s landscapes – the difference being Hopper was more land and Cornwell considerably more sky.
Just opened at the Willis Smith Gallery, and on view until October 4th, is an exhibit of art by the college staff and continuing studies instructors. The 2017 Annual Ringling College Faculty Exhibition, also on display until October 4th, is at the Lois and David Stulberg Gallery. The blue bordered fabric piece pictured above, by Nathan Skiles, a member of the Fine Arts faculty, illustrates how technique and vision are joined together. Both galleries are in the Basch Visual Arts Center.