Sarasota Visual Artists Group Stages Inaugural Show

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BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING WEDNESDAY APR 5, 2017

Sarasota Visual Artists Group, Sarasota’s newest artist association, celebrates its inaugural season this Friday with the opening of the group exhibition 9 Artists, 9 Days. Featuring the work of local painters and sculptors Bill Buchman, Duncan Chamberlain, Elena De La Ville, Jack Dowd, Tim Jaeger, Joseph Melancon, Tom Stephens, Vicky Randall and Dasha Reich, the exhibit runs from April 7–16 in a pop-up gallery at 8131 Main Street in Lakewood Ranch.

Founded in early 2017 by a community of artists frustrated at the lack of gallery space, the Sarasota Visual Artists Group first introduced themselves to the greater community over this past three months by bringing the audience to the artist with its Open Studio Series. “People really want to know who you are these days,” says Stephens, a painter who works in oils and acrylics and opened his studio to visitors on various Saturdays throughout the series. “And they want to see where the work is made.”

Attendance was good and the series a success, says Stephens, and now Sarasota Visual Artists is ready for its first group show. Many of the artists have exhibited together at some point, he notes, but this will be the first time that all of them have shown together as one big group. Each will bring a small selection to the temporary space found by Dowd in the heart of Lakewood Ranch, and Stephens will bring one that some attendees of the Open Studios Series may recognize, as it was mid-process when last he opened his studio to the public. Now those visitors can see the final result.

Working with an unabashedly bold color palette, Stephens creates vibrant abstracts with marked landscape elements influenced by his life as a native Floridian surrounded by lush foliage. Heavily textured and teeming with a million marks, the impression is one of pure energy. “That’s exactly what I’m trying to convey,” says Stephens. “It’s not necessarily a literal place; it’s about the energy of our surroundings.”

Following the success of this year, Stephens says that group looks to continue the series next year, maybe even with more artists. “We definitely want people to know,” he says, “and we’re going to go bigger and better.”

9 Days, 9 Artists opens April 7 at 8131 Main Street in Lakewood Ranch and runs through April 16.

Pictured: "Torreya" by Tom Stephens. Image courtesy of Tom Stephens.

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