Arts on the Horizon

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By Rodger Skidmore

Juxtaposition

Mountain top and valley, evening gown and tuxedo, excess and need; yes, two totally different things that are conceptually linked – and often found side by side. The same crushing force of the tectonic shifting of continental plates creates, at the same time, both mountains and valleys; the bland and boring black of a tuxedo highlights the glittering beauty of an evening gown and, by proximity, the (ahem!) always beautiful person wearing it.

But excess and need? Need can exist by itself and may be secured by simply achieving a sufficiency. And excess? Excess is often described as “too much of a bad thing.”

In the past, clothes for the middle and lower classes were often time-consumingly made at home out of rough, long-lasting material, and thus kept until they fell apart. For the upper classes, clothes were often, as the British say, bespoke. Made, individually out of costly fabrics, for individuals; an also time-consuming and thus expensive product.

With the advent of the French prêt-à-porter (ready to wear), clothes become cheaper and many could wear well-fitting clothing. But, if one is making a cheaper product, the way to high profits is high volume. Drive down the cost of material and sell more. So, if a more cheaply made shirt or blouse lasts only one season, they can change the fashions every season. 

What to do with the old clothing that is still not worn out but is out of fashion, so not to be worn? Discard. And where does old (fashion-wise, but not in years) clothing go to die? Every year, 60,000 tons arrive in the Atacama Desert in Chile (really, Google it). And yet, there really are places in the world where people wear too-thin, ragged, ill-fitting clothes – a real juxtaposition of excess and need. Go to Chile? Or go to Shinique Smith’s exhibit Parade at the Ringling Museum, on view through the first week of 2025.

Her columns of clothing, shaped to look like bales of cotton, are spotted throughout the French Rococo rooms of the museum, a true juxtaposition if ever there was one. Some glorious items to be kept forever and others to be forever gone.

One old thing that the Ringling did not throw away but instead restored is a painting, Watermelon Regatta. It depicts a supposed race on the canals of Venice in the early 1700s with various animals manning the gondolas and sandoli, some made of watermelon rind. Sort of like a humorous Hieronymus Bosch. Part of this exhibition shows how the painting was restored.

On the performance side, at the Historic Asolo, Paris and Music–two things that actually go together very well. EnsembleNewSRQ will be performing four different concerts May 9 through 11. All will be centered around Paris, highlighting the similarities and differences (ah! — juxtaposition) of musicians who have been changed by Paris.

Info for all at ringling.org.

Fireworks, but no cannon

The Baltimore Orioles will be playing in Cincinnati on May 3 and 4 so the Orioles’ ball fields in Baltimore and Sarasota will be available for other events on these two days. Don’t know about Baltimore, but things will be popping at Ed Smith Stadium on 12th Street in Sarasota. Popping, as in pop music, played by the Sarasota Orchestra.

The theme is Decades: Back to the ‘80s. No, not Marty McFly in Back To The Future, but ‘80s hits like Madonna’s Material Girl, Cyndi Louper’s Time After Time, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie and the News’ The Power of Love. Yeah, sure, also stuff by Queen, Phil Collins, Stevie Nicks, and, of course, etc. (Spoiler alert: There will be three vocalists for your listening pleasure.)

For the hungry and thirsty there will be ball-park type food and drinks available. Afterwards there will be, just to keep the neighborhood dogs barking, a dazzling fireworks display.

Being John Malkovich was, sort of, a hit film back in 1999. Playing off that theme, the Sarasota Orchestra will be presenting a concert on May 11 at the Sarasota Opera House, Becoming Tchaikovsky, where they go into Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s mind and develop a modern playlist that he might have loved.

Yes, he probably appreciated the works of Bizet, Grieg, Schumann and Mozart (which will be on the program) but there is also a piece that you will hear by Missy Mazzoli titled These Worlds in Us. A hint as to why Tchaikovsky might have liked her music, even though it was not written until 2006 – the New York Times is quoted as saying, “One of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York.”

As the Sarasota Orchestra is playing with fireworks at Ed Smith stadium on the 3rd and 4th, they will be completing the program on the 11th with Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, but without cannon. 

One thing to be aware of in early June is Two, Three, Four. This chamber concert at Holley Hall on June 2 features the Borromeo String Quartet with a mix of two, three, and four musicians playing works by Françaix, Schulhoff, Ravel and Bacewicz. If you are not familiar with all of these composers, now is your chance.

More info at sarasotaorchestra.org.

The O’Keeffe connection

How many people in the world want to be an artist, how many are artists, and how many are world famous artists?

The numbers go down from a bajillion to just a few. And are there any connections between those oh-so-many wannabes and the ones that have achieved fame? Yes. 

One such connection included a young woman, Yayoi Kusama, who grew up in a small rural town in central Japan. Her parents raised pumpkins so, of course, her first wannabe artistic renderings were of pumpkins. Working as a 13-year-old sewing parachutes in a military factory, she experienced hallucinations including fields of dots. 

As art in Japan moved from stylized realism to minimalism and surrealism, her talent moved her into the “local artist” category. Wanting to develop further, she took a flying leap and wrote a letter to Georgia O’Keeffe, one of the most famous artists of the 1950s, asking for guidance.

Ms. O’Keeffe responded to this message-in-a-bottle that had traveled halfway around the world and suggested that the 25-year-old move to New York. Which she did. The result? Inspired by American Abstract Impressionism, Kusama has been acknowledged as “one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan, the world’s top-selling female artist, and the world’s most successful living artist.”

The exhibit, Yayoi Kusama: a letter to Georgia O’Keeffe, is the eighth Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition at Selby Botanical Gardens and will be on display through June 30. While it is great to have pumpkins on display at a botanical garden, there is much more of her works to see there.

And if realism is more your thing, then the exhibit Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens, through Aug. 31 at the Historic Spanish Point campus of Selby Gardens, is right up your alley.

Info for both at selby.org

Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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