Art Center Sarasota Brings Art to the Community

Arts & Culture


When Art Center Sarasota had to close suddenly in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center’s staff quickly went to work to find ways to make the art a virtual reality. The center had just installed four ground-breaking exhibits when it shut its doors. “The artists in our curated and juried exhibits were extremely disappointed that they wouldn’t get the audiences they expected to see their work,” says curator Nathan Skiles. Curator Dustin Juengel says that solo exhibiting artists “spend over a year creating a new body of work just for their exhibit here. To give these artists some of the attention they deserve, we decided to make video tours of all the galleries.” With this challenge, exhibitions coordinator Danielle Dygert went to work videotaping every piece of art in the building. She created gallery tours of each gallery, collected voiceovers from the solo artists and edited it all into four separate tours. The juried show tour is especially creative as she held the camera on each piece, assigned a number and included a gallery guide on Art Center Sarasota’s website that informs viewers of the artist, title and price of each piece. Elizabeth Goodwill, the center’s education director, gathered her team to design online educational programs for adults and children. They created “Art Café,” currently offering free interactive art activities that features art projects, creative challenges and art inspirations from staff members. Her team is also working on designing interactive art classes and artist demonstrations. Goodwill is also preparing online discussion groups, including the popular “Salon d’Art,” and a new discussion group based on New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz’s book, How to be an Artist. The team is also working on projects specifically for children in the event that the center’s Creative Kids Summer camp is not available this year. “One of the bonuses of creating all of this online content is that it can be utilized even after the pandemic is over,” says Goodwill. “Individuals, senior centers and anyone who is homebound can enjoy doing art projects, see our galleries or listen to talks whenever they need a diversion or a lift.” “I am so impressed with the creative and technical skills of my team,” says Lisa Berger, Art Center Sarasota’s executive director. “This was truly a group effort on the part of the entire staff. Using video conferencing we were able to meet regularly to brainstorm and maintain the comradery and collaborative efforts we have when we are all together in person."

Visit the exhibits online and access lessons online.

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