Arts on the Horizon

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Watercolors by Sarasota Bay

What better place to see watercolors but by the water? Perhaps in the Sahara desert? But the Sahara is not where these watercolors are on display. No, they are smack dab on Sarasota Bay and on the Manatee River. We are talking about watercolors galore, in all their glory. Also about the things that make them watercolors and about the people who convert raw materials into art.

Yes, the Florida Watercolor Society is having its (47th Annual) convention at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota, alongside Sarasota Bay, from September 27th through the 30th. Normally a convention is a place where like minded people get together to have some discussions, socialize and elect officers for the next years convention – a private kind of affair that no one else actually wants to attend. This is different, partly because it is also a trade show and everyone wants you to come and buy some of their stuff. What stuff you might ask. Not those 8 different hard round dots of rainbow-y colors that you get at the dollar store but the real stuff. Paints in different textures, the brushes where you can really individualize your strokes – you know, different strokes for different folks – different boards and canvases, everything you need to really display your talents.

Not sure your talents are up to snuff? – take a workshop, they are open to the public. The first one is presented by Thomas W. Schaller. His work often has an architectural bent which seem to present the opening to some mysterious tale. The second workshop is hosted by Dale Laitinen who specializes more in broad brush landscapes and discusses how to bring out their natural beauty. Janet Rogers brings you into her world of beautiful flowers and surrealistic portraiture. Moving into the realm of the abstract, we come to Sue Downes Allen who takes us a step beyond – learn principles of contrast, composition and color while creating an original work of art.

And what is the result of the raw materials and instruction? The art, of course. On display at ArtCenter Manatee will be the 100 best jury selected watercolors done by members of the Florida Watercolor Society this past year. They will be there from September 7th thru October 26th. Plenty of time to plan an excursion. Note: ArtCenter Manatee is right at the start of Riverwalk on the Manatee. Lots of art outside as well as inside. Go to for more info about workshops, the exhibition and the trade show or to for the 1.5 mile scenic walk along the river.

Drums by Sarasota Bay

When you hear thunder, the lightening may already have hit you, but when you hear drums at the Ringling Museum, the lights follow. Currently on display, and running thru September 9th, are a series of performances entitled Volumes. A special three-dimensional matrix of LED lights has been installed in the Monda Gallery within the Ringling, and twice a day drummers ply their trade (11 AM and 3 PM) each Tuesday thru Sunday. The velocity and pitch of the percussive sounds determine the quantity of light that floods the gallery creating a dynamic (extra)sensory experience. This immersive audio-visual installation was created by the artist/musician Ezra Masch.


During these performances, which started earlier in August, over 60 drummers (many of them local) are making these lights dance. These extraordinary shows are covered by your admission to the museum. In addition, there will be two special shows nightly on August 30th (Greg Fox) and September 6th (Antonio Sánchez) at 7:30 and 8:30 PM. Fox has recorded with Liturgy, Guardian Alien and Skeletons, among others. Sánchez is a Mexican jazz drummer who composed the score for the film Birdman (for which he won a Grammy) and has played with the Pat Metheny Group since 2002.

Did you know that before there wasn’t television there was a time when there wasn’t radio? Really! So, besides gossip, how were stories told? In books, of all places. And to keep you interested those books actually had pictures. So, naturally, the Ringling has a show devoted to Storytelling: French Art from The Horvitz Collection. On display from September 9th thru December 2nd there will be 60 drawings, 10 prints for book illustration and 10 paintings created between the 16th and 19th centuries, giving a rich overview of the narrative tradition in French art. More info at

The main museum has a policy of free admission each Monday. On September 22, the Ringling, and other participating museums across the country, celebrate Smithsonian magazine Museum Day Live!. On this day there is free admission to the Ringling includeing entry to the Circus Museum – a must see for those of all ages. Tickets for Museum Day are available at

September’s added attractions are live music and dancing in the Museum Courtyard on Sept. 6th (College students with ID admitted free); three films will be shown (the 7th, 14th and 21st) at the Historic Asolo; and an exhibit of 250 years of circus posters continues to Sept. 10th.

Drums by the Gulf of Mexico

So you and your friends had a really good time on Saturday night but when you woke up Sunday morning you had a drumming in your head? That’s to be expected if you party too much or too late. But if you still have that rhythm pounding away come Sunday evening, it’s not from the night before, it’s from the Sunday Drum Circle on Siesta Beach. Every Sunday, starting about one hour before sundown, people commence to gather on the beach, just south of the main pavilion. A number of conga and bongo drums materialize and the drumming gets under way. No one is truly sure how it all came into being but this musical event has outlasted the Energizer Bunny – it just keeps on going.

When the music begins, the circle starts to form and grows larger and larger. Snare drums and other percussive instruments make their entrance, as do more and more people. In the center of the circle the dancers begin. Some just sway while others start to gyrate and twirl their hula hoops. Everyone participates in their own way. Some dance, some drum, some weave around the others looking at the costumes and lack thereof, while others sit in their beach chairs and simply observe. And there is always something to see. One year the police (yes, there is proactive crowd control keeping everyone happy) were seen to escort an exotic dancer off the beach, with her even more exotic boa constrictor decoratively draped around her shoulders (no pets allowed on the beach without a leash). As the evening progresses and the sun slowly sets far in the distance, some dancers bring out their LED ribbon lights to add an even more festive glow to the evening. And some of the attendees have their own glow on, but that is from other substances. Multiple percussion instruments abound and the rhythm subtly changes, ebbs and swells. Everything and everyone is peaceful and calm. A wonderful warming experience as the heat of the day subtly changes and ebbs away.

Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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