By Paul Roat/ Contributing Writer
There are a lot of new things to see around Downtown Sarasota for this new year.
Murals seem to be sprouting up pretty much wherever there is a blank wall.
Downtown’s perennial homeless problem may have been solved.
And high season is soon upon us.
Let’s take a look at …
Rising from the pavement of the Sarasota Chalk Festival is an image celebrating a new art gallery in the Rosemary District of Sarasota.
Alfstad& is a gallery at 1314 10th St., Sarasota. Its mural commemorating the chalk artists is on the west side of the building, formerly the Ice House.
Next up is “Sarasota Artists: All In the Family,” opening Jan. 10, featuring works by Sarasota families: Andersons, Deans, Lindhardts, and Strenks.
There is also a multi-story mural on the north side of the Players, also at 10th Street and U.S. 41, done by artist Mateo. His work also adorns one of the stairwells at the Palm Avenue Parking Garage.
Coming soon to the Downtown area are colorful and melodious pianos available for play by passersby. Street art is taking to the wind as wildly colored upright pianos are being scattered throughout the city as part of do-it-yourself musical street art.
The “Play Me, I’m Yours” concept locally is the brainchild of Stacy and Rich Ridenour, and is coordinated with the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County. Similar sound-producing artwork has adorned streetscapes in Jacksonville, Fla., and New York City.
One of the First Ladies of Sarasota, Mable Ringling, would appreciate the belated honor scheduled for her later this month.
A fountain built in 1936 in her honor by the Sarasota Federation of Garden Circles has been uncovered and will be rededicated Jan. 12. The fountain, and accompanying stone lions, are in Luke Wood Park just north of U.S. 41 near the Senior Friendship Center.
Mable and husband John Ringling were landowners, entrepreneurs, and visionaries of 1930s Sarasota. He created the Ringling Museum of Art, developed St. Armands Circle, and was a founder of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The fountain had fallen into disrepair until it was renovated, thanks in large part by Larry Kelleher of Sarasota History Alive!
Another home for the homeless has appeared on the North Sarasota horizon.
Sarasota city and county commissioners have agreed to move forward with a plan to address the large population of homeless people who have taken up residence in Sarasota.
Three spots — 1121 Lewis Ave., 1800 East Ave., and the apparent favorite 1330 N. Osprey Ave. — have been selected as possible pads de jour for those who live on the street.
The issue is sure to produce some interesting debate for the new year and beyond. If a large facility is constructed to house those in need, just who will pay for it is a foremost concern. Is it a city problem? City and county? Regional? Could state or federal funds be used to address the needs of the homeless locally?
Yet another old problem to auger in a new year.
High traffic for high season
Speaking of old problems is one of the oldest issues in our region: high season traffic congestion.
Our winter friends have arrived, and more are en route. Plan for more time to get there from here, longer waits for tables at restaurants or any event, and a general increase in blood pressure as our roads reach maximum capacity.
Solutions? Avoid peak congestion times for your travels. We can zip through the Downtown Farmer’s Market first thing on the morning, something impossible later in the day.
Ditto dining. Being unfashionably early often nets a better price per meal, and later in the evening is also a good time for quiet, unhurried reflection over a meal.
But the best thing to do to ease the traffic woes is to just relax and ride through it all. Resign yourself to sitting through two or three light cycles at an intersection. Think about all the snow you’re not shoveling.