Incredible Journey: Interview with Emma Thurgood

I’ve been engaged in this ongoing dialogue about support for local contemporary art for quite some time now. Ever since I moved to Sarasota, FL I have experienced a vast amount of creative energy that feels underground, for the most part. Contemporary art collectives and gallery spaces crop up every now and then, which is great because creatives can see Sarasota’s vast potential — the only problem is that they don’t seem to stick for very long. So I wonder; how do we get to a point where new collectives and galleries can become established, and when these new collectives and galleries do become established they, in turn, become a catalyst for new spaces and groups until a domino effect is created? We have a good number of resources, but I think we still need to consider more support from current established institutions, so that artists (young and old) have more of an incentive to stay and help strengthen our art community. For example, when I was recently living in Utah, I loved going to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and CUAC because, not only could I view the work of artists living in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Berlin, etc., but I could also view contemporary art that was created by Utah artists! UMOCA even has a “locals only gallery” with a stipend included to help fund each exhibition within that space — AND the work that I saw continually blew my mind because I was viewing powerful, compelling artwork that was created outside of a major art center perspective — it was all new and fresh. I was viewing contemporary art about subjects that were specifically related to the location I was in and that added a whole other dimension to my experience as a viewer. It was also quite clear that these artists were very aware of the contemporary art world, were referencing aspects of it, but not necessarily mimicking it per se — they were adding their own perspective to what I consider an ongoing creative discussion, and it was coming from a Utah perspective. So that makes me think; how amazing would it be to go anywhere in the world and be able to view contemporary art that is representative of that location and its artists’ perspectives, while also being able to view artwork created by emerging and established, national and international, artists in the same space? To me, that would be highly fascinating! Fortunately for Sarasota, I’ve found that Art Center Sarasota is doing just that, and making quite an exciting impression in the process. I recently contacted Art Center Sarasota’s Exhibitions Coordinator, Emma Thurgood, to discuss the Art Center’s 2013-2014 season of exhibitions.

KLL: What is, and has been, your vision for Art Center Sarasota since you started your current position?

ET: My vision for the Art Center’s Exhibitions Program is to grow it to be a leader in Sarasota’s contemporary arts scene. For me, that means showing a variety of art year round that is visually interesting, thought provoking, and creates a memorable experience that they can’t get anywhere else in the area. I’ve been at the Art Center for a year and a half now, and I feel like we are on a great path with those ideas. For the last few exhibitions, visitors have been telling me, “This is the best show I’ve ever been to in Sarasota.” They said that about “Florida Flavor”, they said that about “African Nouveau” and “Leaf | Textile | Purpose” and I think the trend will continue on through the Incredible Journey Season.

KLL: Art Center Sarasota’s 2013-2014 season of exhibitions is titled Incredible Journey; why was that title selected and what should viewers expect to experience during the Incredible Journey season?

ET: Last season was called Southern Exposure for a reason: 20 of the 22 exhibitions we produced were exclusively Florida artists. It was a huge success in highlighting the amazing talents of Florida artists. Now, with Incredible Journey, we’re taking viewers on explorations of different art forms and concepts in art, as well as drawing artists from further afield than we normally do. In the past, it was very rare that our curated shows included artists that were outside of the Florida region. This season, we are presenting artists from across America and we have started the eight-year international exhibition program, “Confluence.” This program is an initiative I started where we will be showcasing artists from the countries in which Sarasota has a sister city. This year it’s Israel, 2015 is Russia.

I think this season is going to take some viewers’ way outside of their comfort zone. There are a lot of shows on the docket that present works that many people aren’t accustomed to seeing in Sarasota. For me, this is all part of creating a dialogue about what art is and can mean that will break down some barriers that have been put up.

KLL: We’ve talked a lot about fostering more support for local artists and creating an incentive for recent graduates to continue to live and work as artists in Sarasota; how is Art Center Sarasota contributing to this goal?

ET: Our main contribution towards encouraging students to stay in Sarasota is through Black Box Projects. It is specifically for students and recent graduates to produce an ambitious project. The Art Center provides an exhibition space and time, as well as some financial resources to see the vision of a student come to life. This contributes to their understanding of real world skills because they have to write a professional proposal to be considered and they have to produce the show.  Because we schedule so far out in advance, a candidate could be a student when they apply for the Project, but already graduated when the Project finally comes on display in the gallery. Secondly, we have juried shows year round, and students and young artists who have been submitting have been winning awards and selling their work regularly over the past six months. Sarasota in general is a great place for that kind of success, too. In my research of other centers like Art Center Sarasota across the country, very few regions are like ours in that they offer so many exhibition opportunities year round across multiple venues. The rate for being selected to hang in a juried exhibit is very high, as well. In other shows across the country, you are competing with hundreds, sometimes thousands of people and only a small handful will be selected. In the Art Center’s juried shows, we receive around 300 submissions from about 200 artists and hang approximately 140-160 pieces. In the current juried show, “miniatures,” we have 244 pieces on display from a submission pool of 345. Those are some great odds for artists.

KLL: In your opinion, why should there be support for local contemporary art in Sarasota?

ET: A city is only as old as its youngest member. If the art scene continues to alienate the younger artists and audiences as it has in years past, they’ll find somewhere else to go where they feel like they belong. It’s a difficult challenge to deal with, especially as a non-profit, because the young people are not always the financial supporters of an organization. But organizations need to cultivate the next round of supporters because, as with all things, times and people change.

Art Center Sarasota does a pretty good job walking this tightrope, I think. I try to make sure that there is something on display for everyone. I have at any given time over 300 artworks on display in the building and they’re all different.  No person should be leaving the center saying that there was not a single piece they liked. It’s impossible.

KLL: What advice would you give to recent graduates about establishing an art practice/career in Sarasota and/or its neighboring communities?

ET: Get involved! It’s hard for students, between classes and jobs, but seriously, there’s still enough down time in their life for them to carve out even twenty minutes a week to go and look at what’s on display in a gallery. The more involved they can become in the arts scene, the better off they’ll be. They’ll have a better idea of who the players are, they’ll be able to meet and speak with many of them at receptions, and it will give them a better idea of how they fit into the art landscape. One of the things I can’t stand is when a  young artist comes to me to ask me to put on a show of their work and they have no idea who I am or what I do or even anything about my organization. I teach a professional practices class at the center with Elizabeth Hillmann, our Education Coordinator, and one of the things we talk about is gallery etiquette. I live by a simple rule when it comes to that: date your gallery. Be informed about who they are and what they do before you approach them, be respectful of their time, and if they pick you for representation, treat them with the absolute utmost respect and maintain a good relationship.

KLL: What other services does the center provide that the community can get involved with?

ET: Art Center Sarasota has a wide variety of events and public programs throughout the year. I have a great lecture season coming up with Kevin Costello and Baila Miller starting on November 21. We also have a killer education program with tons of classes in painting, sculpture, collage, jewelry and other fun stuff. The full listing of classes and workshops can be found at I’m really looking forward to Paper Arts Week November 18 – 22. Then, in March we have tons of programming to accompany our “Confluence: Israel” exhibit and of course, iconcept on March 28, 2014 where art walks the runway!

KLL: I am thrilled by the variety of art mediums and artists that are, and will be, exhibiting this season. Can you touch upon the importance of a diverse exhibition space that incorporates the work of local, national, and international artists?

ET: The best thing about the space at the Art Center is that we have four different galleries. So I generally show four different shows at any one time. Our largest gallery is always a juried exhibit of predominantly local artists. Some of them come from further afield in Florida, and every now and then we get someone from out of state. The other three galleries are dedicated to curated shows of local artists, community groups and nationally recognized artists.

I think some artists would prefer if we only showed local artists all the time, but as a community center, we are not just here for the local artists, we’re here for the viewers too. That’s a difficult balance to manage sometimes. Showing the work of local artists is great, and I do it as often as I can, but showing that work doesn’t mean anything if no one is coming to look at it. What makes a viewer come to look at the local art that we are displaying as opposed to any of the other venues in town doing the same thing? That’s what our curated show of more recognized artists are for- they get the people in the door to come and see something they can’t anywhere else in town. I couldn’t tell you how many times someone has come in to see one of our shows in the front gallery and then bought something from a local artist out of the juried show. It’s also a benefit for the artists showing that they can say they’ve exhibited at a place that has also exhibited such notables as John Chamberlain, Syd Solomon and many others.  It offers up some shared prestige.

KLL: Can you tell us a little bit about CUBEMUSIC, Sun Boxes, and Pulp Culture?

ET: CUBEMUSIC and Sun Boxes, from Craig Colorusso, are the big blockbusters for the opening of our season. I feel like they really kick off the journey. Sound art is so underrepresented in Sarasota. The only other exhibit I’m aware of is the one at the Ringling in late 2011. But, for that you had to pay to go see it or wait for free Monday, and generally the people that need free Monday have to work on Mondays. What’s a viewer to do? Art Center Sarasota is always free and open to the public during our business hours, Mon-Sat 10a-4p. CUBEMUSIC will be transforming the space of Gallery 1 for the next eight weeks. Its cast light and shadows coupled with the soothing deep resonance of sound creates a truly altering experience of the space.

For viewers who still aren’t able to come and see the art, the art is coming to you! We are so excited to take Craig’s other installation Sun Boxes on the road around Sarasota. We’re stopping at parks and beaches to bring sound art to the masses. Whereas CUBEMUSIC is somewhat dark and ominous in its sound, Sun Boxes is positively ethereal. You can’t help but feel happy when you see them and hear them. The full schedule of the Sun Boxes tour for November and January can be found at

Pulp Culture is another show opening November 7 that I curated. I wanted to do a fun show about paper because I have such a love for it. I daresay it’s a dangerous addiction. I tried to not be too serious about it and just show fun creative art that would make people smile while educating them about the way that paper can be used for art other than drawing or painting. So far it seems I’ve accomplished my goal because of the feedback I’ve already gotten while I was installing the show.

art center sarasota image

You can view more information about Art Center Sarasota, Sun Boxes, CUBEMUSIC, Pulp Culture, and Emma Thurgood at:

Art Center Sarasota

Backstage Pass: Emma Thurgood curates excitement

Artist Interview: Craig Colorusso


ArtDart: On the Waterfront by Pamela Beck

There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in the second installment of, SeeSaw, to her current column, ARTdart, as she observes and explores various visual art exhibitions and happenings in the Gulf Coast area.

ARTdart: There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in the second installment of, SeeSaw, to her current column, ARTdart, as she observes and explores various visual art exhibitions and happenings in the Gulf Coast area.

“My most successful relationship has been with water,” a newly single artist recently told me.
I laughed.
“I know that sounds funny, “ he continued, “but we’ve been together forever and it’s the only influence I’ll let dominate me; or at least the only one I’ll admit to,” he added with a devilish smile.
That’s what makes horse races; but seriously, nobody with a beating heart can live in Sarasota and not be affected by the pervasive presence of water.
In the conversations I have with local artists, water is often mentioned as a favorite muse. Whether referenced for its beauty, power, mystery or ever-changing properties, water leaves an indelible mark.
Here’s a sampler of what I SeeSaw around town:


Susan Zukowsky
Missing Girl, 2OO3
Mixed media collage: appropriated paper images, rubber ball, wire, glass beads, thread
2O 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches
Jack Dowd’s 27 & Susan Zukowsky
Selby Gallery, Sarasota FL, 34234

Bruce Marsh
Bay Light
Oil on canvas
60 x 65 inches

Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art
1288 N. Palm Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34236


Irene Gorman
Sarasota Journal

Florida Flavor
Art Center Sarasota
707 North Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34236


Arnold Desamarais
The Quiet Calm
oil on panel, 2011
18 x 24 inches

Stakenborg Fine Art
1545 Main Street
Sarasota, Fl. 34239
Maro Lorimer Old Florida acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas 36 x 24 inches
Maro Lorimer
Old Florida
acrylic on canvas
36 x 24 inches

Art Uptown
1367 Main St
Sarasota, FL 34236

Beatrice del Perugia
Siesta Gold
acrylic on canvas
18″ x 18″, framed 22″ x 22″

Dabbert Gallery
76 S. Palm Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34236


Sigrid Olsen
Marina Magic
mixed media
14 x 17 inches framed

Sigrid Olsen Art
4O7 S. Pineapple Ave.
Sarasota, FL, 34236


Pamela Beck
Pamela Beck

Pamela co-owned Pannonia Galleries in NYC. There she was also an art appraiser, private art dealer, art fair exhibitor and catalogued paintings at Sotheby’s. Perhaps it’s not surprising that she is also a psychotherapist. She has a keen interest in the arts and supporting Sarasota’s future as a lively, diverse and forward thinking city for young and old. Pamela is a member of The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Curatorial & Acquisitions Committee and Institute for the Ages Volunteer.

Curated Unkowns II

April 4 – April 26, 2013
Art Center Sarasota

With the second installment of this exhibition, Curator Zach Gilliland selected 9 artists from Sarasota and St. Augustine working in a wide range of styles and mediums.

April 4 – April 26, 2013
Art Center Sarasota, Sarasota, FL

Opening Reception April 4, 2013 (6pm – 10pm)

Art Center Sarasota’s newest exhibition series “Curated Unkowns” aims to promote and highlight emerging contemporary artists in Florida. With the second installment of this exhibition, Curator Zach Gilliland selected 9 artists from Sarasota and St. Augustine working in a wide range of styles and mediums. From the abstract to the whimsy to the hyper real, this exhibition attempts to blur the lines between illustration and fine art.

Maya de Ceano Vivas,  Root Bowl   Ceramics
Maya de Ceano Vivas, Root Bowl Ceramics

Featured Artists include:
Maya de Ceano-Vivas
Bonnie Dennis
Christopher Ingraham
Brian Marsden
Justin Kingsley Noyes
Clay Olson
Pablo Rojas
Kyle Wilson

Javo, Busto  Oil on board
Javo, Busto Oil on board

Opening reception will include live music by John Lichtenstien, Brian Shepard and Greg Ferris

707 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236

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Art: Sarasota Season Style by Pamela Beck

Join Pamela Beck in the first installment of SeeSaw to her current column, ARTdart, as she observes and explores various visual art exhibitions and happenings in the Gulf Coast area.

ARTdart: There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in the first installment of, SeeSaw, to her current column, ARTdart, as she observes and explores various visual art exhibitions and happenings in the Gulf Coast area.

No, it’s not your imagination. It really does take an extra twenty minutes to get wherever you’re going these days.For art fans, there’s a flip side to not being able to find a parking spot this time of year: More crowds=More exhibitions.

Here, below, are some eyecatchers I’ve seen while gallery hopping on a recent, sunny afternoon. They’re just a small taste of visual treats currently on exhibit in Sarasota.

For a larger picture of shows in town, click “Exhibition” found on the Sarasota Visual Art masthead.

1. Abstract, adj.: Expressing a quality apart from an object, Group Exhibition curated by Kevin Dean, Selby Gallery, Ringling College of Art, till April 3rd

Peter Plagens, Get In There Fast, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 54” x 52”
Peter Plagens, Get In There Fast, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 54” x 52”

The resurgence of Abstract Painting in contemporary art provides this opportunity to explore current trends in relation to the historic movement through the exhibition of eight working painters ranging in age from their thirties’ to their eighties’ who are inspired by nature, music, mathematics, the spiritual and new media.

Selby Gallery, Ringling College of Art and Design,
2700 N. Tamiami Trail

2. Child’s Play, Group Exhibition curated by Mindy Solomon of the Mindy Solomon Gallery, St. Petersburg, till April 26th

Second-Hand Childhood, by Don Florence Photo, partial view of children's chairs in a circle
Second-Hand Childhood, by Don Florence Photo, partial view of children’s chairs in a circle

Mindy Solomon Gallery
124 2nd Ave NE  St Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 502.0852

3. iConcept Retrospective, group exhibition curated by Lisa Berger and Eric Cross, Art Center Sarasota, Sarasota, FL, till April 26th

Observer, by Eric Cross, (made from recycled Longboat Key Observer Newspapers). Artists from around Sarasota produce pieces of fashion from avant-garde materials that walk the runway.
Paper Dress, by Eric Cross
Paper Dress, by Eric Cross

Art Center Sarasota
707 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236

4. Following Ovid’s Metamorphoses: From Cosmogony to Chaos and back to the Rhizome, curated by Anne-Marie Melster, Two Columns Gallery, Ringling College of Art and Design, till April 14th

Installation View
Installation View

Two Columns Gallery, Ringling College of Art and Desing
1947 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota FL 34236

4. If the Sun was Square, curated by David and Tre Steiner, State of the Arts Gallery, Sarasota, FL, till May 1

Jim Keaton, Machine 4, 26 "x 33" .
Jim Keaton, Machine 4, 26 “x 33”

State of the Arts Gallery
1525 State Street, Sarasota, FL 34236

5. Ongoing, Nikitas Kavoukles, Stakenborg Fine Art, Sarasota, FL

Sitting by Nikitas Kavoukles, oil on canvas, 26" x 30"
Sitting by Nikitas Kavoukles, oil on canvas, 26″ x 30″

Stakenborg Fine Art
1545 Main Street, Sarasota, FL 34236

6. Let it Float, Matt Combs, till March 30th, Clothesline Gallery, Sarasota, FL

Matt Coombs, SRSc12 Collage on Paper, 11" x 9.25", 2013
Matt Coombs, SRSc12
Collage on Paper, 11″ x 9.25″, 2013

Clothesline Gallery
529 S. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236

Pamela Beck
Pamela Beck

Pamela co-owned Pannonia Galleries in NYC. There she was also an art appraiser, private art dealer, art fair exhibitor and catalogued paintings at Sotheby’s. Perhaps it’s not surprising that she is also a psychotherapist. She has a keen interest in the arts and supporting Sarasota’s future as a lively, diverse and forward thinking city for young and old.Pamela is a member of The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Curatorial & Acquisitions Committee; Sarasota-Manatee Dance Alliance, Advisory Board Committee

The Truth is Too Convoluted: Kim Anderson & Caui Lofgren

September 14 – October 14,2012
C. Emerson Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL

It has been said that the average person lies between 1-5 times a day. Motivated by malice or kindness, whether to survive, protect, hurt, or seduce, we negotiate our relationships through varying degrees of honesty. In light of the many assumptions correlating truth and art, there are those who have come to embrace the flaws, contradictions, and absurdities that upset the façade of our constructed environment. When in 1923 Pablo Picasso proclaimed, “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth” he anticipated a later cultural shift.

Responding in different ways to this condition, Caui Lofgren and Kim Anderson employ painting and drawing to reflect on the elusiveness of truth. Taking his cue from mass media, Lofgren assembles new fictions appropriated from the coercively seductive icons of popular culture. Vaguely familiar, Lofgren’s images recall Rorschach’s tests, and appear to slip between multiple biomorphic forms. Photography, once revered as concrete evidence, can now more than ever be easily manipulated or altered. By collecting and reinterpreting found amateur photographs Anderson’s work unravels the minutia dividing what is actual and imaginary in the most seemingly treasured and personal of images.

Kim Anderson, Salome Installation

KIM ANDERSON – Born in San Francisco and raised in Honolulu, Kim Anderson is an artist and educator currently residing in Bradenton, FL. She is an Associate Professor of Art at New College of Florida where she has taught painting and drawing since 2004. Collecting and translating found photographs into paintings and drawings reflects her concern for the influence of photography on our behaviors, conventions, and memories. Her work has been exhibited in cities including Atlanta, Miami, New York, and Sarasota, and has been featured in New American Paintings, Studio Visit Magazine, and the Drawing Center Viewing Program. She is a recent recipient of the Sarasota Arts Council John Ringling Individual Artist Grant and has appeared on WEDU’s A Gulf Coast Journal with Jack Perkins. She holds an M.F.A. from University of Florida and B.F.A. from California College of Arts and Crafts.

CAUI LOFGREN – Born in Eugene, Oregon and raised in Minneapolis and Northern California, Caui Lofgren received his MFA and BFA from the University of Florida. He is currently the chair of the art program at the IMG Pendleton School in Bradenton, FL and has taught as an adjunct faculty at New College of Florida in Sarasota, FL. His work finds patterns in accumulation where meaning is evoked through hybridization and mutation. A synthesis of the natural and the artificial, symmetrical patterns convey underlying subversive drives, summoning mythical beasts, and eliciting collective obsessions. His work has been exhibited in the Brevard Art Museum, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Art Center Sarasota, and galleries in Miami and Sarasota. His drawings have been featured in the last two yearly publications of Manifest International Drawing Annual (6&7), an international juried survey of contemporary drawing.

909 Central Ave Saint Petersburg, Florida 33705

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