There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in her column, ARTdart, as she explores and considers the different perspectives that define the art world.
So you’d like to take the family on a regular basis to see what’s happening in the art world but don’t want to pay any entrance fees? Of course you can always go free to the Ringling Museum of Art on a Monday and there are all kinds of discounts available there depending on age and other factors.
But you’re a harried family, with a budget, fidgety young kids, world-weary teenagers and maybe a spouse who reluctantly agrees to go only if you will watch his/her favorite TV show on the night that yours is on the same hour.
You can always go to galleries. But you feel a bit like a phony walking around with the price list in your hand. Not to mention that instead of just looking at the art, your spouse invariably and frequently comments, “Can you believe the price of this?”, which somehow does not help create the experience you were seeking.
And the last time you were in a gallery with your family, one of your fidgety kids asked you in more than his “speaking voice,” “Why is that person behind the desk always staring at us?” To which your world-weary teen replied just loud enough to be heard, “Dude’s got some serious *!#* goin’ on.” Which then made you look apologetically at the dude (who wasn’t smiling) and hastily usher your family out of the gallery and on to the street where a lecture about public comportment ensued. It didn’t help that your spouse was giving you an “I told you so” look.
What to do? What to do?
Right here in Sarasota we have the Ringling College of Art and Design. While people know about this extraordinary college as an educational institution, how many see it mainly as a destination spot for viewing contemporary art? The on campus art galleries are free, unpressured and beautiful settings that offer something for everyone without trying to sell anything to anyone.
The experience is varied and exhibitions change frequently. Selby Gallery shows work by well-known national and international artists, designers, illustrators and photographers. They also offer programs and events free to the community. Both the Basch and Willis Smith Galleries present exhibitions of work by Ringling College students, alumni, faculty and contemporary artists. Of particular interest to both young and old viewers is the Crossley Gallery run by and showcasing only Ringling College students, the Goldstein Gallery, which presents film selections from the Digital Filmmaking department and the Christ-Janner Gallery that features the work of the college Illustration students. The Patricia Thompson Gallery shows the art of college alumni.
It can be quite inspiring for children to see the work of artists, who may not be that much older than they are, featured in the beautiful, professional spaces the college provides. There’s also plenty of shake-it-out time for everyone to regroup as you walk between these galleries through the pretty grounds of the Ringling campus, not knowing what to expect in each gallery, but having learned from prior experience that it’s certain to be of interest.
One thing’s for sure though, with all the cool Ringling College students hanging around when you do visit, your own kids would rather be caught dead than look like the art appreciation experience is anything but normal for them. And soon enough, it will be.
For info on current and upcoming Ringling College exhibitions: http://www.ringling.edu/campus-student-life/campus/galleries/