Arts on the Horizon: September

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By Rodger Skidmore

Be the bee — or maybe the bird

Scientists often wonder if other creatures have emotions — empathy, love, envy, etc. Consider the honey bee. We may not know too much about what goes on in their little heads when they’re inside the hive (invasion of privacy, and all that) but we do observe them as they fly about. They seem drawn to flowers. Certainly, the smell of the nectar attracts them — as it does us, hence the various perfumes and colognes that we use. 

And the colors. Birds can distinguish flowers of various shades — pink, yellow, blue, and red, as can we. When birds are too far away to perceive the fragrance of the flowers, they can see them in the distance (or is it vice versa?). And the shape of the flowers. Various species of hummingbirds have different length beaks, just as the species of flowers they pollinate have bells of various depths. 

So, color, shape, fragrance, all appeal to the birds and the bees, and to us. They for sustenance of the body, we for the soul. There may not be a difference between the two, for they are intertwined. 

At Selby Gardens there are flowers of all colors and shapes, and with a multitude of fragrances. But this, of course, is what we expect of such a beautiful garden. Through Sept. 25 there is an added floral attraction: Flora Imaginaria: The flower in Contemporary Photography.

While the birds and the bees may not be attracted to the photographs mounted throughout the shaded walkways and paths of the gardens, the human wanderers certainly are. The photographic prints that are outdoors (there are 44 of them, with another 25 in the Payne Mansion, by 49 international photographers) are mounted on (actually part of) a white or black glass like substance that is supposed to withstand hurricane force winds (let’s hope no testing of this material is in their future). It seems as if the flowers pop out at you as you are passing. Some of the flowers are free standing blooms while others are posed in vases. Still another set represents life that is not still, as they have been altered (digitally) by the photographer, between the snapping and the mounting. But an additional type of altering goes on as you visit one flower and then another. Because of the black or white reflective background that hovers behind each flower, the black reflects the leaves and water, while the white shows the dappling of the shadows the cross their surface. And each changes further as the sun shifts west and the clouds scudder by. Info at Selby.Org.

Pop art has been around (approximately) since the year 33,978 B.C.

Actually, this was the only kind of art back in the Upper Paleolithic period, 36,000 years ago. It is said that pop art draws its inspiration from sources in popular and commercial culture. Not sure how much culture there was back then, but if it was commercial culture, then those wall paintings of animals might have actually been menus rather than a depiction of a hunt. If you chose one from column A and one from column B you might have gotten a bison burger and a side of roast boar.

Artists now have a lot more commercial culture to draw upon — if one considers comic books and advertisements for refrigerators to be art — and art gallery owners certainly do as most get a 50% commission for each piece sold.

The trickle-down theory of economics applies to how artists are paid. At first only the rich and powerful purchased paintings — the church and royalty — everyone else was a peasant, so couldn’t afford it. Next was the Dutch merchant class, who were so rich they could afford pictures of themselves and their house maids and wives (Rembrandt and Vermeer). Then, as the lower classes had more money to spend, a lot of landscapes and still life paintings were made, as these were pleasant in appearance and could be produced in endless variations. Today, with so many methods to cheaply reproduce art, artists can support themselves by painting (and reproducing) anything they wish, as there enough people with disposable income to create multiple niche markets — modern, contemporary, and pop, to name a few.

And new pop-art artists keep popping up on the scene. The painting, Checkered Tablecloth, with Pasta Dinner, was done this year, by Elsie Pappanastos, an Art Center Sarasota student. ACS has summer classes for adults and for two different levels of students each year.

From Sept. 1 through 30, Art Center Sarasota is mounting POP!, a juried exhibition. While individual artists actually had been producing this kind of art in small quantities over the years, it seems to have burst forth, as a named thing with a life of its own, in the 1950s and ’60s. There are many artists today, around the world and in Sarasota, whose paintings fit into this category. Chiefly, because they enjoy painting in this manner and because many viewers like the broad, bright, bold style. 

Also, during September are exhibits by Alissa Silver, a graphic designer; Jesse Clark, a fine arts photographer; and Carla O’Brian who works in clay. More info at

Mystery Train

There is a murder mystery train in Fort Myers, but you have to book the whole train for them to put on the show. That’s kind of a bridge too far. Perhaps the mystery is why there is no mystery train in Sarasota. Ha ha, there IS a mystery train! 

The real mystery is, “Where is this train?” The address is listed as 2211 Fruitville Rd. And, if you drive back and forth on Fruitville for six or seven hours, you will never find it. However, if you are driving west on Fruitville and take a right onto School Avenue, School Avenue will, after about a block, become 3rd Avenue. Right where this happens take another right into a large empty parking lot. Drive to the far end of that lot and you will find Bob’s Train. Admittedly, these directions are sort of how you find your way to Platform 9 3/4 when you are trying to board the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter books. So, while the mystery is how to find Bob’s Train, the magic is in the food that is served. 

While Bob no longer serves skunk soup (he did at the restaurant’s previous location — it was really good), moose burger is now on the menu. Or, more exactly, M.O.O.S. E. Burger — very tasty. While one could recommend the grilled brie and berry sandwich, the kielbasa with onions and sweet peppers, or the Sunday brunch, it would be much easier to recommend everything that’s on the menu. 

Ordering one item per visit will take you a couple of weeks to get through the menu, but will also give you the opportunity to visit with Bob. And chat. Because that is what Bob can, besides cook, do. About the Ringling Circus, the U.S. Navy, radio operating, or whatever. It will also give you time to visit the other train cars hooked onto the dining car and view the thousands of circus photos. More info at

Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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