Arts on the Horizon: February

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By Rodger Skidmore

Stranger things (not the TV show)

You know how it is, you are strolling along the beach and see a cluster of seashells in a shape reminiscent of the gentlemen from the movie The Shape of Water? Well, you are not alone – Michele Oka Doner has been there, seen that, and done that.
The “done that” is the transformative stage of her “found that, what must I do with that” inner directive. Doner takes the things that she sees and transforms them into the things that we can see … if we go to the Ringling Museum’s exhibit Michele Oka Doner: The True Story of Eve which runs through June 2 of this year in the Monda Gallery.
Seashells, mushrooms, shredded bark peeling from a tree; so many strange and beautiful things that touch our souls but briefly. Nature, being ephemeral by nature, appears, decays or erodes, and then disappears.
Unless, of course, Ms. Doner sees them before they exit, stage left.
An individual half-inch bit of broken shell or splintered coral, picked up on the beach, is something we can look at for a moment, discard, and barely remember. But aggregate enough and a sculpture forms, especially even more attractive when cast in bronze. When viewed, our mind can take the image, flit through our memories and not find a match.
But then, like Google, suggest other holographic-like images which we have previously retained. This new, individual image, stored within ourselves, is now part of us, to be brought up at will – perhaps when we, ourselves, are walking along some otherwise deserted beach.
Doner, born in Florida, touched by its nature, has always been in touch with that part of herself. Bits of her, pieces of her structured mind, are scattered around the world in museums and private collection, like spontaneously generated life forms popping up everywhere.
Doner and Ola Wlusek, curator of modern and contemporary art, have created a safe haven in the Monda Gallery for these random selections of formed nature, permitting and fostering a viewing environment letting us walk to and around what Doner has shared with us.
More info at Ringling.org.

In Cabaret they sang ‘Money, Money, Money, Money’
Money does make the world go around, especially when the money goes around fast enough. And Tom Cruise was in the film Jerry Maguire which was all about someone wanting money. Remember the iconic “Show me the money!” line?
But a different focus is shown on money in Florida Studio Theatre’s production of The Lehman Trilogy, a five-time Tony Award-winning play running through March 24 at the Gompertz Theatre.
This play is not just about wanting the money (although there is plenty of that), it is also about what it does to the people getting it and how they got, kept, and ultimately lost it.
For years, Lehman Brothers was viewed as one of America’s most solid institutions, long after the original three brothers were gone, but is now viewed as a failed entity.

The brothers started by building their company’s foundation as a dry goods store in Alabama, but soon expanded. It was not a case of show me the money, but more of a go to the money, and then start to play (wheel and deal) with it. When one knows where money comes from and where it goes, it can be easy to move with it and thus have some level of control.
In Alabama they accepted cotton as payment for their goods, then started buying cotton, selling cotton, and ultimately controlling cotton. They saw that cotton was, in effect, a form of money. The next step was to buy, sell, and control money itself – a natural progression.
This play, by Stefano Massini, was written after much research; tracking the money and those men who, to some degree, actually created it. This is quite a large production with a cast of more than 50. Or, actually, 50 characters, who are played by those who also play the three Lehman brothers.
While attendees of The Lehman Trilogy are focused on the money, some are enjoying themselves in other ways. Specifically, by harking back to the ‘70s, watching and listening while a musical guitar revue, Take it to the Limit, channels rock n’ roll from the ‘70s (Allman Brothers, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac) and takes it to the max in the FST Cabaret through April 14.
Also in the Cabaret, on alternate days, the FST singers explore The Flip Side, a satiric, sardonic (silly), look at the what makes us laugh at ourselves and at “them” when most we need it. They take a good look at the best comic songwriters of the 20th century.
And by the way: The music for all these shows is courtesy of Jim Prosser. Kind of a reason, in and of itself, to attend all three shows.
More info at floridastudiotheatre.org.

Beyonce sings Clara Schumann
Two worlds that won’t collide – Beyonce singing a song to the music of Clara Schumann and Ms. Schumann accompanying Beyoncé. But they will be on the stage together at the Harvest, on 17th Street in north Sarasota, the evening of the 3rd of March.
Violist Molly Carr and pianist Anna Petrova will be performing a concert celebrating female composers through the ages – specifically from the 1100s until the present.
In addition to the composers previously mentioned, there will be pieces by Florence Price, Amy Beach, Michelle Ross, Vivian Fung and others.
The compositions played at the concert were all written between the late 1800s and the present time. The Ross composition that will be played was commissioned by the Perlman Music Program, which is presenting this concert.
There will be a pre-performance talk where contributions of earlier female composers will be discussed.
More info at perlmanmusicprogramsuncoast.org.

Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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