The Best Visual Art Exhibitions Coming To The Sarasota Area This Year

The visual arts festival has resumed. Missed your invitation? No sweating. The party continues.

Area art museums and art groups are exhibiting again in the real world – and not just virtually. They started this spring and plan to continue as long as possible. Here’s a look at what they’ve planned for the rest of 2021. See these exhibits while you can and don’t delay.

The ring

“Hard bodies: contemporary Japanese sculpture in lacquer”. Lacquer is an all-natural polymer. East Asian artists have created with it since the Neolithic Age, and Western minds tend to classify their work under the “traditional Asian art” folder. This traveling exhibition from the Minneapolis Institute of Art shatters that cliché. It features 16 contemporary Japanese artists playing post-modern tricks with this ancient medium. You’ll see 30 lacquer sculptures – and you’ve never seen anything like it. Human and animal figures merge into abstract jet black spots. Realistic snails crawl in stylized vases. A sparkling, jeweled idol depicts a cute cartoon bear. It is the art of the wild imagination. That’s all you’ll see here. Without traditions in sight. 15 October-Jan. 21; Art museum, burning wing. 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota; 359-5700; ringling.org.

“Rhodnie Désir: Conversations”. Désir is an African-American dancer and choreographer. His multimedia installation at The Ringling illustrates a cruel chapter in a twisted story. It shows you that white slave traders periodically forced their black captives to dance on the decks of their ships. Not for the amusement of the slaves, of course. The dance was the slavers’ cynical ploy to keep their human cargo healthy enough to be sold. Dance as exploitation. Dance emptied of joy. Désir uses video, light, paper sculpture and sound to reveal (and make felt) the impact it had (and still has) on the culture of the African diaspora. November 14-April 3; Art Museum, Monda Gallery. 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota; 359-5700; ringling.org.

Sarasota Art Center

“Art Venti: probable realities”. Imagine, if you will, the Twilight Zone between abstraction and representation. Art Venti thrives in this artistic no man’s land. His paintings are abstract forms. They are also realistic representations of objects in space. (Trade secret: Venti crumples sheets of colored paper, arranges them on a light box, then paints what he sees.) These surreal and otherworldly views are the result. Venti lives in these “probable realities”. His paintings invite you to visit. Until October 2 at Sarasota Art Center, 707 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 365-2032; artsarasota.org

Mike Zeck's cover for Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars No. 1 is part of the “POW!  The Comic Art of Mike Zeck ”, from October 18 to December 12.  10 at the Stulberg Gallery at Ringling College.

Ringling College of Art and Design

“POW! The comic art of Mike Zeck. Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa; Hans Holbein captured a portrait of King Henry VIII. Not too bad. But Mike Zeck’s artistic subjects include Captain America, The Hulk, The Punisher, and Spider Man. In the world of comic book artists, Zeck is a certified maestro. (A Marvel maestro, currently. But he also worked for DC.) This exhibit features Zeck’s overpowered cover art. His work is brilliant and daring – without any nifty and artistic gimmicks. This Ringling College graduate is the John Ford of comic book artists. Zeck serves the story first and doesn’t try to impress you. But he does it anyway. ‘Nuff said. 18 Oct-Dec 10 at the RCAD Stulberg Gallery, 1188 MLK Way, Sarasota; 359-7563; ringling.edu/galeries.

A detail of “Pneuma” (AR) by Mel O'Callaghan, shown in the augmented reality exhibition “Seeing the Invisible” on display from September 25 to August 25.  2022 at the historic Spanish Point Campus in Selby Gardens.

Selby Gardens / Historic Spanish Point

“See the invisible.” It sounds mystical, but it’s actually digital. We are talking about augmented reality (AR). In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a quick definition: Virtual Reality (VR) only exists on computer screens and glasses. It is a purely digital field, separate from objective reality. AR is more of a marriage than a divorce. It overlays digital imagery on the real world – and that’s what you’ll see here. This AR exhibition showcases the cutting edge work of 12 major artists, including Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, and Pamela Rosenkranz. Their AR art will overlap with the reality of the Historic Spanish Point campus (and 11 other botanical gardens around the world). The experience is friendly. No computer science degree required. Just hold your smartphone or tablet. The screen becomes a magical window where dream and reality intermingle. Crystals wrap around trees, bromeliads reveal doors to other dimensions. Thanks to AR technology, you will see the inner visions of artists. And that’s pretty cool. 25 Sep-Aug. 2022 at the historic Spanish Point campus of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 337 North Tamiami Trail, Osprey; selby.org/hsp/visit-historic-spanish-point.

Judith Linhares' 2010 artwork “Cove” is featured in an exhibition of her paintings “The Artist as Curator” from November 26 to April 2 at the Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College.

Sarasota Art Museum

Judith Linharès: The artist as curator. Indigenous cultures around the world see dreams as a doorway to creative ideas that the mind cannot grasp in the harsh light of day. Indigenous peoples of Australia talk about the power and revelations of “Dreamtime”. The art of Linharès draws from the same creative well. The archetypal visions of his paintings flow from his dream diaries. These visions transcend everyday mundane experience, including the lonely sense of self. No man (or woman) is an island in Linhares paintings. His dreamlike art reveals the greatest continent of human connection. She paints a very clear picture of what unites us. Linhares’ artistic commitment is equally altruistic – and extends far beyond his tiny island of ego. Linhares has reached its artistic rhythm in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a famous artist in this community. But Linhares is also famous for empowering other artists in the Bay Area. In addition to the art of Linhares, this exhibition will present the work of five of the creators of which she has curated. They are also powerful dreamers. November 26 to April 2 at the Sarasota Art Museum, 1001 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; sarasotaartmuseum.org.


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