Interview with Mike Solomon, artist, and curator of Syd Solomon’s Along the Shore

The exhibition, Syd Solomon: Along the Shore 1956-1989 (Where Fishing and Abstract Expressionism Met), is a small selection of Syd Solomon’s work from his estate which will be exhibited in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Longboat Key Center for the Arts from January 18th through March 1.  Sarasota Visual Art interviews Curator and Solomon’s son, artist Mike Solomon, about Sarasota, his father’s paintings, and his own artwork.

Reefscape © Mike Solomon
Syd Solomon, Reefscape © Mike Solomon

What have you selected for this particular exhibition and why?

You know it’s funny how something can be right in front of you but so close you can’t see it? It is when we transform within, that our external vision opens up. A few years ago Allyn Gallup told us that Murph Klauber had Syd’s big triptych mural from the Far Horizons and wanted to sell it. Annie and I went to look at it. We hadn’t seen the painting in at least 40 years, maybe longer. I was amazed by it. It was done at one of the peaks in Syd’s career, in 1959. After seeing it I started to look back in our archives and I found a little brochure that Syd had done on it when it was first unveiled for the hotel. We didn’t know it had the title; Reefscape: Dawn, Midday, Dusk nor what Syd’s thoughts were about the work. In the small text he talks about the three panels each being an impression of the same place at different times of day and at different tides. The tide thing struck a particular note with me, as I become interested in fishing and was sensitive to this kind of “seeing”. Having become sensitized to this aspect myself, I began to realize how quite a good number of Syd’s works actually referenced fishing. Some works show a view of both above and below the water, like a slice of the picture plane from bottom to top. Others, are even more explicit with views of mangrove islands seen from a boat – totally a fisherman’s view. Others show men in waders and even with fish jumping with tight lines and lures in their mouths. It was amazing to finally realize all this, so I thought a show on this theme would be fun. Syd was a very avid fisherman since he first set foot in Sarasota in 1946. He claimed to have caught a record Snook in the Phillippi back in the day. (32lbs) His fishing buddies were Herb Stoddard and Sam Warson, among others. They shared a number of boats and for 35 years, on every Thursday, they went fishing.

Syd’s work has of course always been associated with nature, but it was always in a more general context. The specificity of fishing, the kind of view one has of the water environments with that in mind, we can now see were part of Syd’s vision in a number of paintings. Syd’s work “Silent World” at the Ringling Museum is also related to the aquatic world, a vision of underwater done from his experience of diving with Dr. Eugenie Clark and Jacques Cousteau in Key West and also painted in ’59. I think it would be terrific if the mural Reefscape could go to the Ringling Museum too. What do you think about using Kickstarter to buy for Reefscape for the Museum?

As the curator, what do you want the audience to walk away with?

Hopefully with a realization that artists see into things we take for granted and in doing so, they wake us up to the possibilities that are right in front of us.

Were you impressed with your parents friends and colleagues growing up?

As I kid, as far as I knew, they were just a bunch of friendly people. It wasn’t till I got a little older that I realized how special the whole thing was. To name names would seem like I was reading from Who’s Who. I did become close to several artists and writers though – people who really helped me understand what it meant to be an artist – David Budd, Joy Williams, Eric Von Schmidt and others were very generous with me. (Joy William’s book, Breaking and Entering has got to be the best book about the underbelly of Siesta Key culture ever written.)

Solomon Family Photo © Lionel Murphy
Solomon Family Photo © Lionel Murphy

In the 1980’s after John Chamberlain moved to Sarasota you started assisting him in his 18,000 square-foot warehouse studio on Coconut Avenue . What are some of your fondest memories working
with Chamberlain?

Actually I started with John before he had 10 Coconut. He hired me in New York to come down and help him get started here and at first he rented a spot in the Nokomis junkyard and had a pole barn put up were we could process metal and he could work outside in our clement weather. That was where I started and it was just me for about a year. He made “Detroit Deliquescence” there among other works. Once he decided he could actually work down here on a permanent basis we went looking, that’s how 10 Coconut happened. Then Heidi (Connor) came on board and she really made things gel for John. Career wise, it was Heidi that got his work into the broader spotlight, through her amazing energy and organizational skills.

I learned an immense amount from John. His work was a revelation in the assemblage process. Dubuffet actually coined the term and John, though he’s described as a sculptor for obvious reasons, liked to think of himself as an assemblagist. Assemblage implies working with autonomous parts that have their own particular identity. In assembling diverse elements John created a larger unity with them while respecting each part’s contribution, and so in a sense, there are political implications. That he did it three dimensionally was his big breakthrough. He would select parts and put them in various piles on the massive floor of the studio. Then slowly they would rise up by being positioned and welded together, and the process would continue till he was done. So you see initial selection was not based on the final form they would serve but rather on some kind of intuition about the inherent quality of each constituent part. That’s a spiritual and un-gratuitous way to approach the making of something and quite rare. Even very well respected artists are more manipulative than that, less ready to be open to real chance. John was exceedingly rare in having more faith in the unknown than most. Once he showed me a pile of parts and said, “These are an irregular set.” In other words, the parts of that group were unlike the parts of all the other groups in the studio and so they formed a set of their own. That taught me that nothing is a “reject”. If it doesn’t fit in the regular program, it can still serve a special purpose. That’s really uplifting.

Mike Solomon, RiP, 1983  postcard with china marker
Mike Solomon, RiP, 1983 postcard with china marker

You began as a painter and began making sculptures relatively recently. How did working with Chamberlain assist with the development of your sculpture– or did it?

Gestural Abstract Expressionism was always about energy made visible and John’s work was certainly the outcome of that too. Minimalism carried it along and I think of my sculpture as a refinement of those two movements. But my sculptures also refer to wave images. That recognizable symbol can be a way people “enter” the work, but hopefully they leave with more, with the idea that all things are the manifestation of an invisible energy. A “billow” is the perfect metaphor for energy in form, energy making form.

In 2005 I started working with nylon netting. I found I could make it take on shapes by building armatures for draping and stretching it. Then I would freeze the forms I found with fiberglass and resin and then cut and edit them once they were solidified. Leaving the grid visible shows the forces present in the forming of the shape, the change in the shape of each square, is the “tell” of the forces that made the shape. In this sense the work is 2d and 3d combined.

Panta Rhei, 2008
Mike Solomon, Panta Rhei, 2008

What are the biggest differences between Sarasota then and now?

Then it was small, intimate, dominated by nature with a small but special culture hovering inside. Now so-called civilization has dominated and nature is seen in the cracks between buildings. But now a greater variety of people come here. It’s not all retiring Mid Westerners and Canadians anymore. Now there are people from Italy, Asia, New York, California, Puerto Rico, Brazil, so it’s getting more diverse. There are younger people here now too. In a sense it’s like the days when my parents came after the war, younger people from elsewhere, looking to make a new life. I like a lot of Sarasota now as long as I don’t try to compare it physically with what was before. However there is still a long way to go as far as the economic and racial divide is concerned. That part hasn’t changed nearly enough.

What are the biggest differences between the visual arts in Sarasota from your young adulthood and now?

I think it is a lot better now. The Ringling College has become a nationally known entity, a real force in arts education and that is great for the community. And the Museum has finally found a balance too and is really working all its historical, modern and contemporary assets. I really like what has been done there in the past few years. And there are just more talented people around and a bigger and better audience. I mean I remember back in the 80s it was just a handful of us, David Stellin, Rik Tweed, Marsa Lazes and my wife Claudia, we were the whole of the young art scene. Now there’s way more and I hope it continues to progress.

Do you feel a relationship between your work and your father’s work?

Sure. Almost impossible for there not to be. Joan Altabe once pointed out that Syd was the romantic and I was the scientist…it’s kinda like that. I am a kind of aesthetic scientist.

Your work seems to always have a relationship with water-from your work with beeswax on paper, your China Marker drawings, to your current sculptures. Can you discuss the relationship in your work with the environment?

I grew up on Philippi Creek, then on Turtle Beach, and we were always at the beach on Long Island so water has always been a huge part of my life, to the extent that it has become a kind of language for me. One of my recent sculptures is called “panta rhei” that’s attributed to Heraclitus and translates to “everything is in flux”. He was dealing with the philosophical problem of putting one’s foot in the river…well, which river? Water can be a metaphor for more abstract concepts. Now of course, we are faced with what we’ve done to the environment and water is the main “tell” as we saw with Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Those postcard / china marker works from the ‘80s were a bit prescient, no? – flooded communities and all. “The city is the world of the body, nature is the world of the soul.” That is from the Baha’i Teachings. So in wrecking the environment are we destroying “the world of the soul” ? For all the great art man makes nothing compares with even the slightest thing in nature, which is made by God. If our physical life is the mirror of our spiritual state then obviously, mankind has to find a different way to be. We’ve dominated the Earth, but now, if we want to survive, we have to reorient ourselves and become Earth’s protector. So in my opinion, the environmental issue is at heart, a spiritual one. If we can change on the inside, the outside will come to reflect it.

Engender, 2012
Mike Solomon, Engender, 2012

Please tell us about the direction you are going with your current work and where one might be able to view it.

New work I am doing is a kind of a “getting back to basics”. They are flat works but incorporate the resin I’ve used in sculpture. I am working with vertical and horizontal brush strokes in watercolor, painting them on sheets of rice paper then infusing the paper with resin, which makes it and the colors transparent. I add sheets with more marks, continuing to fuse them together with the resin so the effect is a build up of sheets with marks into multiple layers. Because of the translucent nature of the material, one can see the layers that were done first as well as the layers done later, so there is the history of the entire process with nothing really hidden – the element of time is visualized. In most two-dimensional work, the activity is on the surface. In these, it is in the depths, even though they are only about a ¼ inch deep. Also the new work just seem to have located itself as a kind of impressionism, impressionism without the specificity of place as they are simply works with aggregated, colored marks.

We just closed the show “Returning to The Mark” in Chelsea at Salomon Contemporary (no relation) of these new works and some of the sculptures from ‘08. Lots of great response; Paul Laster wrote a nice piece in Mike Solomonwhitehotmagazine.com, Pollock-Krasner Director and art historian Helen Harrison wrote a very insightful essay. There was also a wonderful piece called Fragrance by Janet Goleas on blink.blogspot.com. So I was very happy with the response. Work is lined up for few group shows in New York and the Hamptons this coming spring and summer but I am actually hoping to spend more time down here so perhaps there will be the opportunity have an exhibition locally at some point. I still love Sarasota. Lots of wonderful friends.

Syd Fishing @ Estate of Syd Solomon
Syd Fishing @ Estate of Syd Solomon

Artists Who Made Sarasota Famous- Part II at Art Center Sarasota

October 18 –December 7, 2013
Art Center Sarasota, Sarasota FL

On view will be a retrospective of artists in Sarasota who rose to prominence beginning in the 1960’s and continuing on to those who are still actively creating new works today.

October 18 –December 7, 2013
Art Center Sarasota, Sarasota FL

Art Center Sarasota is opening three new exhibitions on Thursday, October 18, 2012.

In Galleries One and Two, “Artists Who Made Sarasota Famous- Part II”, will showcase the second half of an exhibition of Sarasota Artists in the galleries earlier this year. The exhibition is curated by Dave and Patricia Dabbert of the Dabbert Gallery in Sarasota.

“The Rehersal” by William Jerdon, Oil on Canvas, Courtesy of the Dabbert Gallery

On view will be a retrospective of artists in Sarasota who rose to prominence beginning in the 1960’s and continuing on to those who are still actively creating new works today. All of these artists have been part of keeping Sarasota noted as a destination for arts and culture. Their work is found in important collections locally, nationally and internationally. This exhibition is important not only visually but historically as a chronicle of visual arts in the community.

“Encounter and Remy” by Craig Rubadoux, Oil on Canvas, Courtesy of the Dabbert Gallery

Complete list of artists in the exhibition:
Joan Altabe, Jean Blackburn, Jorge Blanco, David Budd, Clyde Butcher, Jack Cartlidge, John Chamberlain, Robert Chase, Frank Colson, Jeff Cornell, Kevin Costello, Kevin Dean, Julee Docking, Jack Dowd, Frank Eliscu, Jerry Farnsworth, Patrick Fiore, Larry Forgard, Gale Fulton Ross, Tim Jaeger, William Jerdon, Steven Katzman, Dennis Kowal, Jill Hoffman-Kowal, Nat Krate, Leslie Lerner, Barbara Mc Cann, Joseph Melancon, Moe Mitchel, Florence Putterman, Vicky Randall, Dasha Reich, Anthony Rice, Craig Rubadoux, Helen Sawyer, Syd Solomon, Ben Stahl, David Steiner, Julie Trigg, Thorton Utz and Susan Zukowsky

“Coast” by Barbara McCann, Acrylic/Oil on Canvas, Courtesy of the Dabbert Gallery

Featured in the Main Galleries is the open, all media, juried show “It’s Political” which was timed to coincide with this year’s election. This juried exhibition invites artists to challenge themselves and create a special politically themed piece. Artists have always been the ones to hold a mirror up to society in an effort to bring about change and this exhibition is sure to hold true to that tradition. Jurors for this exhibition are Marty Fugate, Arts Writer for the Herald Tribune & Kim Russo Working Artist and Former Head of the Ringling College Fine Arts Department. Art Center Sarasota has invited politicians running in the current election to greet guests at the opening reception on October 18, which is free and open to the public from 5-7pm. Lite bites will be provided by Jimmy Johns and the DeSoto Beach Club. Confirmed politicians who will be attending the opening include: Liz Alpert, John Torraco, Ed Brodsky, Greg Steube, Adam Tebrugge, Doug Holder and a representative for Ray Pilon.

In Gallery 3 is an exhibition by the Sarasota, Florida Chapter of the Sumi-é Society of America. This exhibit runs from October 18 – November 9, 2012.

(A new Exhibition, “The Curated Unknowns” will be in this gallery from November 14 – December 7, 2012)
The Sumi-é (or “ink painting” in Japanese) Society of America’s mission is to foster and encourage an appreciation of East Asian brush painting techniques and serve as a cultural bridge between East and West. This exhibition showcases the talents of Sarasota’s Sumi-é Society. As a part of the exhibition, artists involved in this show will also be hosting a special lecture about Sumi-é painting and its history, as well as a demonstration on November 2 at 2pm. http://www.sarasotasumi-e.org/

These exhibitions were paid for in part by the Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues
Art Center Sarasota | 707 N. Tamiami Trail | Sarasota 34236 | 941-365-2032 | www.artsarasota.org


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Art Walks the Gangplank by Joan Altabe

International Fine Art Expositions’ mega yacht, SeaFair is docked near Marina Jack’s through Monday, and the press release talks about everything but art.

by Joan Altabe

You call this an art show? Really” Check your press releases for hype, please. To this critic, at least, it’s just gray scud on the page. International Fine Art Expositions’ mega yacht, SeaFair is docked near Marina Jack’s through Monday, and the press release talks about everything but art. The only reference to art is that 28 “prestigious” galleries are represented (without naming one). You’re also told of “special artist exhibitions” (again, no names). And you’re told that SeaFair carries “paintings, sculptures, photography, studio glass and more from a wealth of international galleries” without another word about any of this.

Instead, you’re told that the yacht is 228-foot and cost $40 million, designed by “internationally-acclaimed designer Luis De Basto.” See? The boat designer gets a mention, not the exhibiting artists.

You’re also told that there’s a coffee bar, a deluxe lounge, an open-air champagne and caviar lounge, a formal glass-walled restaurant, an informal open-air restaurant and a cocktail reception area. And you’re told that “This is the most exciting thing to happen to Sarasota since Ringling brought the circus.”

But you’re not told how the exhibit examples are chosen. You’re not told that exhibitors pay a fixed weekly rental depending on gallery size which includes marketing. Each port visit is a rental period launched with catered opening evening gala.

You’re also not told that an endorsement from a Met curator is actually from the museum‘s costume department. Which accounts for the nature of the endorsement: “It’s festive and elegant. When you’re aboard, it’s very conducive to buying because you feel like you’re really away and on holiday.” If you want to frequent this thing, it’ll cost you $20 for a single-day and $30 for something called “Priority Boarding ticket.”

Art walks the gangplank.


Joan Altabe

Former visual arts critic for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Bradenton Herald, former New York City art teacher and longtime award-winning art and architecture critic for U.S. and overseas publications, is referenced in “Who’s Who in American Art” and “Who’s Who of American Women” and currently writes as the St. Petersburg art Examiner and National art Examiner. Altabe has written several books including “Art Behind the Scenes” (100 painters in and out of their studio) and “Sculpture off the Pedestal” (25 sculptors in and out of their studio). Both available at Amazon.com.

The Goods: Weekend News (02.24.12)

Sarasota Visual Art’s round up of information, upcoming exhibitions, and events. The Art History of Sarasota, Nancy Turner, J.M.W. Turner, Robert Rahway Zakanitch, Sungyee Kim, Kang Hyo Lee, Noelle Mason, Dunedin Fine Art Center, Cecile Moran

Sarasota has an art history, how about a future?
Even before Ringling’s school began to draw World War II veterans intent on studying art under the G.I. Bill of Rights, the Farnsworth School of Art opened in Sarasota in 1941, attracting students from the United States and Canada and from as far away as the Dutch East Indies.

Featured Artist: Nancy Turner
Nancy is an artist printmaker who derives inspiration for her work from the people closest to her, from the news media, and from other artists. She uses art as a language to convey information about issues that are important to her.



Genius Unfolding – Annotated Proofs by J.M.W. Turner
An historical look at several outstanding series of prints by J.M.W. Turner featuring artist proofs with his instructions written in the margins for published engravings of the Loire Valley and Seine Valley and bound books from the collection of Douglass Montrose-Graem

Robert Rahway Zakanitch – New monoprints
An exhibition by internationally acclaimed artist Robert Rahway Zakanitch that includes one of the five paintings from his Big Bungalow Suite (11’ x 30’) and other paintings from his collection not shown in Tampa before.

Meditative Journeys: Sungyee Kim and Kang Hyo Lee
Mindy Solomon Gallery is pleased to present the devotional works of two Korean artists, painter and ceramic artist.

“Persistent Vision” – work by artist Noelle Mason
State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) will display work by artist Noelle Mason in an opening reception from 6 – 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, in the Fine Art Gallery at SCF Bradenton

DFAC Prepares for BIGGEST Show of the Year
An exhibition with over 300 works representing over 300 artists in painting, jewelry making, pastel, colored pencil, watermedia, 35mm & digital photography, clay, printmaking, mixed media, stone carving, enameling and more will be featured.

Florida Soliloquy by Cecile Moran
Solo exhibition of paintings embodying a sense of energy displayed through the interaction of brilliant colors. The images are created by layering and resistance techniques.

Sarasota has an art history, how about a future?

The likes of Sawyer, Farnsworth, Hartman and Solomon put Sarasota on the art world map, and both art makers and art lovers have been colonizing here ever since. The Sarasota County Arts Council has reported a data base of 3,000 people who define themselves as artists and live and work in Sarasota today.

by Joan Altabe

In the beginning… Soldiers returning from WWII came to town to make art their life. One of those soldiers was Syd Solomon, whose legs were frostbitten during the Battle of the Bulge. He was told to live in a warm climate and came to Sarasota on the first day of 1946. Solomon stayed on into old age to become an internationally recognized painter known for his abstract renditions of the area’s light and land. “When I landed in Sarasota, it was the high point of my life,” he told me in an interview in 1988.

Solomon knew at once that the town was for him because its art scene was already active and well-known. And throughout the years, artists have been drawn to Sarasota for its natural beauty and for the attention paid to art making.

Syd Solomon Dabbert Gallery
"Joust" by Syd Solomon 1951– Gouache (Dabbert Gallery, Sarasota)

You might say our art history began in 1931, when art lover John Ringling, whose circus wintered in Sarasota, founded his museum, along with the School of Fine and Applied Arts of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art – known today as the Ringling School of Art and Design. Staffed by 15 faculty members, the school attracted landscape and marine painters from the North.

But even before Ringling’s school began to draw World War II veterans intent on studying art under the G.I. Bill of Rights, the Farnsworth School of Art opened in Sarasota in 1941, attracting students from the United States and Canada and from as far away as the Dutch East Indies.

The Farnsworth School was founded by the husband and wife team of Helen Sawyer and Jerry Farnsworth, two New York City artists with established reputations.

Helen Sawyer Dabbert Gallery
"Soriee" by Helen Sawyer – Oil on Board (Dabbert Gallery, Sarasota)

Sawyer’s New York exhibit credits included the Whitney Museum of American Art, which acquired her work. Many of her paintings have been reprinted for greeting cards by the American Artists Group. Farnsworth’s work also is in the collections of the Whitney, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His portrait paintings – 23 of which were reprinted for Fortune Magazine and 10 for Time Magazine – included likenesses of three presidents: Truman, Roosevelt and Harding.

The couple opened their school in a leaky, made-over cleaning and pressing shop, later they moved it over a garage and then into the original post office in the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. Students flocked to the school, and over the next 30 years, more than 5,000 came – ultimately to a location on Higel Avenue on Siesta Key. By 1970, classes had to be limited to about 35 students with tuition costs beginning at $60 for a two-week period.

Farnsworth students were so serious about their work, Sawyer told the Herald-Tribune in 1970, “If anyone would ever hum or whistle while they worked, they would be hissed.” Many of these students liked Sarasota so much, they made it their home, and in the process, made the town’s reputation as an art center.

Jerry Farnsworth Dabbert Gallery
"Pony Tail" by Jerry Farnsworth – Oil on Canvas (Dabbert Gallery, Sarasota)

One of these was the late William Hartman, the first artist in his home state of Michigan hired under the Federal WPA Program of the Arts. He came to Sarasota in 1946 to study art under the G.I. Bill at the Farnsworth School, the Ringling School and the Hilton Leech Studio, begun by noted landscape watercolorist and teacher for which the school was named.

Leech, a nationally known artist and long-time member of the celebrated American Watercolor Society, came to Sarasota in 1931 and helped organize Ringling’s school. His own school thrives to this day as Friends of the Arts and Sciences.

“Many good artists were already in Sarasota, then,” Hartman told the Herald-Tribune in 1986. He met his future wife, Martha, when both were art students at the Ringling School; they opened their own gallery and school in Sarasota in 1952.

Hilton Leech Dabbert Gallery
"Hidden Lake" by Hilton Leech– Watercolor & Mixed Media (Lee Corbino Galleries, Sarasota)

The couple was so popular that a Herald-Tribune article in the `50s commented: “If there were an election to select royalty in the Sarasota art field, it is safe to say that most people would vote for Sawyer-Farnsworth.”

Speaking about why they chose Sarasota in which to live and work, Sawyer has said, because, “Here we find congenial friends, indoor activities in the fields of music, art, theater; outdoor activities; sailing, fishing, swimming. And such a variety of subject-matter for painting! The swamps and forests of the back country for landscapes and the shores and waters of the Gulf; tropical fruits, flowers, vegetables and sea things, as well as fisher-folk and circus folk. So here we find the spice and substance of the good life.”

The good life in Sarasota inspired paintings that earned Sawyer raves from noted critics. Ernest W. Watson, early editor of American Artist magazine, wrote of Sawyer’s depictions of Siesta Key beaches in 1949: “Always she paints to express a mood rather than to record a particular scene – the threat and fury of seas and sky rather than a particular place in time of storm.” Elizabeth Luther Cary, writing for The New York Times at the time, compared Sawyer’s thunderclouds to Francisco Goya’s and found the 19th-century Spanish master’s wanting. Lauding Sawyer’s skies, she said, “We may think of Goya’s carnival scenes under stormy skies, but I cannot recall any by Goya in which the battle of the two extremes plays such a passionate part.”

Always, though, the good life for Sawyer included teaching, she said. “Teaching never became hum-drum. I fed my students my eyes, my heart. They all swallowed them whole and did the most marvelous things.”
Inspiration for local artists also came from the presence of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which wintered in Sarasota.

Ringling Poster
Circus Poster

“One of the great things we used to do was put on a circus art show. Only circus subjects. It was great,” said Solomon, who studied with the Farnsworths, in a newspaper article. “Jurors invariably included someone from the circus – one of the great performers or one of the great entrepreneurs like Buddy North. It was a very important theme show, and perfectly natural for Sarasota.”

The likes of Sawyer, Farnsworth, Hartman and Solomon put Sarasota on the art world map, and both art makers and art lovers have been colonizing here ever since. The Sarasota County Arts Council has reported a data base of 3,000 people who define themselves as artists and live and work in Sarasota today.

Yet, something is missing. We boast the birth of an arts community. The question is, have we grown? With all the boutique-y galleries, tourist art and match-the-slipcover decorator stuff, not to mention Sarasota signal monument on our bay front – the monstrous “Unconditional Surrender” – it feels as if fine art has moved to another town.


Joan Altabe

Former visual arts critic for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Bradenton Herald, former New York City art teacher and longtime award-winning art and architecture critic for U.S. and overseas publications, is referenced in “Who’s Who in American Art” and “Who’s Who of American Women” and currently writes as the St. Petersburg art Examiner and National art Examiner. Altabe has written several books including “Art Behind the Scenes” (100 painters in and out of their studio) and “Sculpture off the Pedestal” (25 sculptors in and out of their studio). Both available at Amazon.com.