Arts on the Horizon: May

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Reel to real

The first moving pictures were actually taken with still cameras — a series of them were lined up along a race track. When the horses charged by, the lead horse broke threads attached to the camera’s shutters. The resulting photographs were then printed on individual cards and, when rapidly viewed one after another (flipped), the motion picture industry was born.

The cards were housed in a metal box and the viewers turned hand cranks to move the pictures forward as they viewed the five- to 10-second “movies.” The limiting factors were the number of cameras needed, and having to break threads to get the cameras to capture the motion. Soon, continuous film which passed by one shutter was developed, with the hand crank being turned by the cinematographer. The rest was “technology.” Hand cranks gave way to electric wires, then to batteries. Audio was synced to the pictures and then rich colors were added. Giant movie cameras gave way to shoulder-mounted ones, and then to VHS and smaller cassettes which could be controlled with an individual’s own two hands. And now, today, everybody’s camera-of-choice is the cell phone.

The style of viewing has also changed. From one viewer, cranking the motion of the cards by hand, to hundreds of viewers at a time sitting in local theaters across the country, and back down to a few, sitting on their couches huddled together in theaters of their own making. And finally, ironically, the one-minute cellphone recordings and slightly longer hand-held videos, whose action is tripped by police, and other authoritarian personnel, breaking the threads of decency, one after another, with the results shown to millions around the world.

It is these videos of deeds and actions which are on display at an exhibition titled For Real This Time at the Ringling Museum of Art’s Monda Gallery, through May 16. It opens up a space for deeper reflection on the common experience of resilience across cultures in order to create a shift in our psyches that inspires tangible and effective change. At least that is the hope. This month’s selection is “Bear Witness: Woodcarver.”

Find more information at Ringling.org.

In search of lost time

Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust is the story of a young boy’s journey through life. What has your journey been like, and do you remember, or long to remember, some of those wonderful things from your past?

If you are from a certain time, or from a certain place, you might be seeking out a dive bar that you frequented, the smell of flowers on an unnamed hillside, the sound of waves splashing on a hidden beach — or, then again, perhaps it was the great experience of hearing a certain band play music that brought so many things all together for you back in the day.

The dive bar has been closed down for health violations, the hillside is now part of a housing development, and the hidden beach has just a bit too much red tide to make it worth the trip. But, oh those bands. The original band members are long retired, or are altogether gone, but tributes to them live on and on.

How many Beatles concerts did you attend in person? None? Or one or two? … in your dreams? Well, now you have a chance, at the Van Wezel on May 9, to attend a series of concerts from various phases of their career, all in one evening. RAIN is coming to town with their tribute to the Beatles, all of their costumes, and with lots of their songs. They’ll be sure to sing “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Please Please Me,” “If I Fell,” and many, many more while wearing clothes from their various album covers.

Pink Floyd was a band of another color — they were more ethereal and other-worldly and played in funky places in Greenwich Village where the air was smoky and, afterwards, memories were just as hazy. The tribute group Classic Albums Live will perform in this kind of setting at the Van Wezel, sending out its rendition of Pink Floyd’s great album Dark Side of the Moon.

(If you’d like to hear them do their note-for-note version of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, you can catch them in Clearwater on June 17.)

If interested in other hits from yesterday (and the years before), then you might want to sit on the lawn (or on a blanket of your own bringing) outside the Van Wezel on May 8, alongside the bay, and listen to those good old tunes as performed by Yesterdayze, including, or course, Beatles songs. Reservations for spaces on the lawn are required.

For more info on these and other shows, go to vanwezel.org.

Mondays vs. every day                   

On Monday mornings Garfield, the comic-strip cat, does not like to get out of bed. When he does, he must have coffee. And, even then, he looks like he’s having a bad hair day. How are you on Mondays? And, if it’s that bad, what can you do about it? Remember, you are in Sarasota, Land of the Magnificent Sunsets.

And now, since we are living in Daylight-Saving-Time-Land, we have time to grab a bottle of wine, load the beach chairs into the car, head to the beach, and watch the clouds turn 43 shades of pink. Wonderful.

And, wonder of wonders, for the rest of May, we can head for the Ca’ d’Zan terrace for Acoustic Sunsets live on Monday evenings. Starting at 6 p.m. a different musician will play for you as you soak in the rays of the setting sun. Drinks and bites are available.              

OK, that takes care of Monday evenings, but what about every day, during the day? Everyone’s heard of Rembrandt, Picasso, Michelangelo, and Van Gogh. You can see their works any time, in any museum.

But what about those artists that you don’t know because you’ve never heard of them? Perhaps one such painter is Sam Gilliam.

Is he any good? Well, Christies sold one of the paintings from his Ray series for a bit more than $2 million a couple of years ago.

Of course, Mr. Gilliam didn’t get that money. He originally sold it for about $2,000 (less 40 to 50% gallery commission) back in the 1970s.    

Another way to know that Sam Gilliam is an OK painter is the fact that he is having a solo exhibition through August 15 in the Searing Galleries at the Ringling Museum of Art, plus a career retrospective at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum next year.

He is an abstractly abstract painter in that he does not frame his works, but drapes them abstractly, so that at each showing they appear differently.

Yes, for more information visit Ringling.org.

Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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