Welcome to Paradise

300 words by Regan Stacey – A new resident artist’s observation and quick summary analysis of Sarasota.

300 words by Regan Stacey

I moved to Sarasota about a month ago, a transplant from the shores of
southeastern Connecticut. In all twelve states I have lived, never have I been
greeted with the phrase “Welcome to Paradise.” I politely smiled the first time,
but the second time gave me pause. Looking around, I asked myself: “Did I die
and miss the Pearly Gates on the way in?” Having lived along a rural coastline
for the past seven years, I could not imagine that this dizzying array of stores
and strip malls and bright sunny days was Paradise. I am experiencing an
intoxicating level of sensory overload that often has me longing for a darker
shade of sunglasses.

This observation, of course, comes from an artist who tends to work in minimally
abstract ways, one who is quick to quell her senses with subdued imagery and
forms. Less is more, and Paradise is lush.

“Paradise.” I pulled into Paradise Plaza the other day. How many other
businesses or areas of commerce claim “Paradise”? I checked. A Yellow Pages
search revealed sixty-nine “Sarasota Paradise” results. Apparently, in addition to
sixty-six other things, I can get my nails done, pick up a pizza, and go to therapy,
as if one would need therapy in Paradise.

I noticed my songbirds have largely been replaced with four-foot birds in ten-
foot trees. This is a perspective shift I am working on. The quality of light here is
beautiful and lends itself to a brighter and more vibrant color palette.

If art is observation, then my process here has just begun. If Paradise is truly
a state-of-mind, then I am looking forward to making art inspired by this self-
proclaimed Paradise; I just hope it doesn’t flap its giant wings with over-elated