Arts on the Horizon – October 2020

By Rodger Skidmore

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

     That proverb rolls off the tongue very easily and, it is true, little acorns can grow into really big trees. But we all know that the saying is referring to little children growing into great men, or small enterprises growing into giant conglomerates. And, sometimes, small interesting works of dance being expanded into something a bit more major. Back in 2018, Sarasota Contemporary Dance (SCD) put on a piece called “Departure,” choreographed by guest artists Erin Cardinal and Brian Fidalgo. 

     Two years later this acorn has grown into a more substantial work and is being presented by the SCD at the Historic Asolo Theater, just inside the entrance to the grounds of the Ringling Museum, on October 1st – 4th (evenings Thursday thru Saturday at 7:30 pm and at a 2 pm matinee on Sunday). The theme for this piece is one of migration. There is, of course, interpretation by the dancers in performing this work but, as always in contemporary dance, there is the interpretation by the viewer. Erin Fletcher, resident choreographer for the SCD, has also expanded an earlier piece of hers into something larger which explores the life of one of Hollywood’s most famous icons, Marilyn Monroe. Additional works will also be presented on these four days.

     All of these pieces are part of Sarasota Contemporary Dance’s 15th year; thus, the entire season carries the name Quinceañera in honor of the troupe’s coming of age. This particular series of performances is titled Evolving/Revolving. Normally this refers to the evolution of the choreographers and dancers, with revolving refers to the SCD bringing back well-crafted pieces from the past. While this is true, the first two pieces mentioned are both revolving and, as they are in an expanded form, have also evolved. How we attend such performances has evolved as well. There will only be 50 attendees each evening or afternoon, with seating arrangements following well accepted guidelines. For those that can’t get tickets, a live streaming option will also be available. 

     Following in this new tradition of simultaneous live and streaming viewing, a collaborative effort will be performed November 19th – 22nd. The harpist, Ann Pilot Hobson, has taken a work by Leymis Bolaños Wilmottand, inspired by the music of Astor Piazzola, has arranged this creation for harp, violin, and bandoneon, with jazz and classical influences. Ticket and streaming information at sarasotacontemporarydance.org.

What’s wrong with the second Friday of October?

     Nothing. And that’s just what’s wrong with it – nothing is happening. Now take the first Friday of the month (10/2 – 6 pm until 9 pm) – that is when the First Friday Art Walk takes place to kick off the beginning of “The Season.” The theme is An Evening of Classics. One of the nice things about October is that it is not August. Or July. Or September. October is the month that leaves traditionally fall in the Adirondacks and the thermometers hopefully do the same in Sarasota. With cooler daytime temperatures and drier breezes, evenings can be quite pleasant. Strolling along Palm Avenue, while keeping socially acceptable distances from returning snowbirds, looking at the paintings, art photos, sculptures, and newly cast and pulled glass pieces on display in all the galleries is a great way to end a not-so-great summer. (If your particular summer actually was great, that is wonderful news – please don’t feel too guilty.) And please, please, please note that the Art Walk is not limited to Palm Avenue. While many galleries are located there, there are more on Main and State Streets, Burns Court and Burns Lane, and Pineapple Avenue. Some, but not all, offer small bites and liquid refreshments to help you linger a bit longer at their establishments. Google: Sarasota “Art galleries” to plan your route.

     The Third Friday Art Walk (10/16 – 4 pm until 8 pm) is a condensed version of the earlier one. This walk is centered in Towles Court, just a stone’s throw (please don’t throw any stones) east of the Palm Avenue action. In a colony-type atmosphere reminiscent of, perhaps, Martha’s Vineyard, 15 or so artists, in individual or shared galleries, have their creations on display. There are many types of paintings on display there – oils, alcohol ink, watercolors – landscape, portrait, still life – realistic and abstract. 

     As surely as flowers follow the rain, the Fourth Friday Walk (10/23 – 5 pm until 9 pm), through the Historic Downtown Village of Sarasota, follows the third. What is this Historic Downtown Village – and where is it? There is a series of small bungalows that were built to house Ringling circus employees. That area is pretty much located in a rectangle from Washington west to Central Avenue, and from Fruitville north to Boulevard of the Arts. When the circus relocated, those employees did as well. As the buildings had aged a bit, the rents went down and others moved in (my Mexican landscape contractor lived there for a while). Since then they’ve been bought up and now house a crystal shop, art galleries, a tea house and various other boutiques. Enjoy.

Rock Hudson and the Choral Artists of Sarasota

     I remember when Rock Hudson was outed. I believe, for me at least, it was after he passed away. I said to myself, “Huh, I never knew.” And, I guess to some degree, that was a way of saying that his being gay did not matter to anyone who was not personally involved. Since then I’ve read about hundreds of artists who’ve come out, or been outed by others. Some I’ve known about, like Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Samuel Barber. I think I learned recently about Francois Poulenc, but with so much going on these days, I’m not 100% sure that I did. Aaron Copland I was somewhat iffy about, but I had no clue about George Frideric Handel or Franz Schubert. Well, the thing that unites all of them is that they wrote beautiful music that I, and many others, have enjoyed for, in the case of Handel, over 300 years. Hopefully at some point in time, 2020 may be seen as a year of reflection. If so, it is fitting that the Choral Artists of Sarasota have scheduled a concert titled “Out of Adversity: Embracing Our Differences,” featuring works by some of these artists. This concert will be streamed live on October 18th. A video of the performance will also be available from Oct. 19th through November 18th. To further illuminate these composers and the societal adversity they faced back in their day, an insight conversation will be held at 10 AM on October 8th. This will be a discussion moderated by Joe Holt with a number of guest speakers. Information about the concert and discussion are at Choralartistssarasota.org.