Is 3,000 B.C. ancient enough for you?

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Remarkable Halo Arts exhibit features Siesta Key contributions and talents

By Jane Bartnett

This month, Siesta Key residents and visitors will have a rare opportunity to see a curated exhibit of 16 ancient artifacts that will be on display next to a contemporary artist’s interpretation of that same piece.

Ancient art that dates from 3,000 B.C. to the 19th century is on loan to Halo Arts from a Siesta Key collector. Meanwhile, Siesta Key mixed-media artist Gail Rubinfeld is one of the 16 artists whose contemporary work will be shown.

 “We asked these talented artists to re-imagine and redesign the ancient image as a modern piece,” said Jackie Cutrone, curator of the Justified + Ancient exhibit. Cutrone, the founder of the Sarasota-based non-profit organization that is the beneficiary of the event, is an accomplished painter herself. Her work will also be on display and for sale at the show.

 The Halo Arts Project provides financial grants to working visual artists. Earlier in the year, Halo Arts awarded fellowships ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 to13 local artists during an awards ceremony held on Siesta Key.

 The Justified + Ancient exhibit will be held at the Mara Gallery in the Rosemary District of downtown Sarasota, 1421 5th St. Visitors will find themselves walking among temple walls measuring 45 feet wide and 8 feet high that were designed and built by Siesta Key artist Debra Kealkahn. The structures will cover the Mara Gallery courtyard, where the exhibit will be shown.

Siesta Key’s Debra Kealkahn poses with the temple walls she re-created for the Mara Gallery. They stand 8 feet high and 45 feet wide. (submitted image)

 A special benefit preview evening will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Mara Gallery. Tickets are available for $150. On Oct. 28, a grand opening evening will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 each. 

The exhibit will remain on display at the gallery from Nov. 1 through 17.

“We’re telling a story,” Cutrone said as she spoke about the exhibit that spans thousands of years of artistic endeavor. She carefully chose the 16 antiquities to illustrate the distinctive art of that period. These artifacts, she explained, were often intended to celebrate some part of the lives of the individual that they were made for.

“Was the object intended to inform future generations? Was it intended to influence the security of someone’s soul in the afterlife?” she asked. “In our modern-day lives, we also want to leave a remembrance of our time. I was here. Remember me.”

By exhibiting ancient pieces alongside modern-day work, Cutrone said “These ancient objects are being re-imagined and infused with new energy.”

 The works of the 16 modern-day artists on display during the exhibit will be for sale.

“To be able to create and curate an exhibit of this caliber and to show it in a gallery setting is pretty cool,” said Cutrone with great enthusiasm.

Some of the ancient treasures that will be on display. (submitted image)

Artists have long drawn inspiration from ancient artifacts and the forms of art that have created a lasting history of their day. Halo Arts’ Justified + Ancient coincides with a major show that is taking place in Norwich, England called The Vision of Ancient Egypt. It also showcases the influence that ancient art has had on the creativity of artists through the years and it too displays ancient pieces alongside the work of modern artists.

Supporting visual arts and visual artists, Cutrone believes, is vitally important to the Siesta Key and the entire Sarasota region.

“The arts in this community are essential for the quality of life that we enjoy here,” she said. “Art brings people together.”

Her hope for this exhibit is to illustrate that art “is an essential part of the human experience that transcends time and culture.” 

More information on the exhibit at the Mara Gallery is available at

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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