I took a recent trip down to the sunshine state to check in on my folks and to soak up a bit of vitamin D. I went down a bit early to help my mom deal with my father who is in assisted nursing care but we managed to get out an catch a few sunsets. Later the family came down and we took side trip up to Sarasota to visit the Ringling Art Museum as well as the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Siesta Key and a tour of the Ringling College of Art and Design which my son is considering. The above image is a composite photograph which combines a statue from the Ringling with some textures I’ve collected over the years.
Spring time in Florida certainly is much more colorful than the bleak, brown, Northeast landscape I left behind. Luckily I missed a few days of snow, rain and cold that my family experienced before coming down south. They even had to fire up the wood stove. Down in Fort Myers the weather was a pleasant low 80s and the humidity was surprisingly low. We were lucky. Warm enough to swim but not hot enough to sweat.
Its easy to get into the mindset of not thinking about the weather when you head out the door in Florida. The only thing you have to remember is a light sweater for extra chilly air conditioned buildings. At the Ringling College of Art and Design the counselor pointed out the animation students to us. They were the ones walking around campus with heavy coats and long pants. I guess after hours in the chilly computer labs their body temperature drops. They might as well be studying up north.
One night while out photographing on Fort Myers Beach I had to explain to a curious onlooker that I was waiting for the color AFTER the sun went down. They said “did you get it?” I guess they meant the ball of light on the horizon. I was more interested in the color reflecting off the water. The guy says – “oh I never thought to look down there”. Lol.
Bright colors are certainly a jolt to the senses compared to the understated, colonial, puritan aesthetic back at home.
On Siesta Key beach, the number one rated beach in the country due to the purity of its sand, I ran across one of my favorite motifs – pairs. I have a series of pairs that I like to title with “Life’s better together”. This series has become popular.
The Sanibel Island Lighthouse is a great spot at sunset. No problem zipping across the causeway from my parents place at Shellpoint this time of year. I guess it gets too hot around April for the snowbirds and they start packing up and heading home. Plenty of parking at the beaches by mid-April although we did run into traffic one night trying to get over to Ft. Myers Beach and Times Square for the sunset.
The Ringling is always worth of visit. We lucked out and ended up there on a free day – every Monday is free per John Ringling’s wishes, so we treated ourselves to a great lunch at the restaurant near the entrance. Last time we visited the museum with my parents and our young son, we barely got through the mansion tour and the circus museum before the place closed. This time we made a bee line to the art museum, toured the grounds and had lunch. It really takes more than a day to see it all. The above photographs were taken on the grounds of the property.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the state art museum of Florida, located in Sarasota, Florida. It was established in 1927 as the legacy of Mable and John Ringling for the people of Florida. Florida State University assumed governance of the Museum in 2000.
Designated as the official state art museum for Florida, the institution offers twenty-one galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities and Asian, American, and contemporary art. The museum’s art collection currently consists of more than 10,000 objects that include a variety of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative arts from ancient through contemporary periods and from around the world. The most celebrated items in the museum are 16th–20th-century European paintings, including a world-renowned collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings. Other famous artists represented include Benjamin West, Marcel Duchamp, Diego Velázquez, Paolo Veronese, Rosa Bonheur, Gianlorenzo Bernini, Giuliano Finelli, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Frans Hals, Nicolas Poussin, Joseph Wright of Derby, Thomas Gainsborough,Eugène Boudin, and Benedetto Pagni.
In all, more than 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) have been added to the campus, which includes the art museum, circus museum, and Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringlings’ mansion, which has been restored, along with the historic Asolo Theater. New additions to the campus include the Visitor’s Pavilion, the Education, Library, and Conservation Complex, the Tibbals Learning Center complete with a miniature circus, and the Searing Wing, a 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) gallery for special exhibitions attached to the art museum.
The amazing thing is when you visit the museum today, you would hardly believe that it was falling apart through out most of its history up until the 2000s when major renovations brought the museum up to proper standards. Sarasota in general has recently see a lot of positive investment. The Ringling College of Art and Design has grow significantly in the past 20 years and is poised for even more expansion with new buildings in the works.