On one wall, find the work of acclaimed Milanese painter Rodolfo Viola, his canvases alive with color and texture from palette knife and brush. On another, see the Dalí-esque stylings of Zdenek Janda, the modern Czech painter who uses medieval techniques to create intensely detailed works that have become a point of national pride. (Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis gifted a Janda painting to French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018.) Take time to circle the sculptures of Pedro Pedrazzini, the Swiss artist who developed his own form of expressionism—“Rustic Gothic”—and uses chemical aging to create the appearance of antiquity. Visitors will even get a glimpse of work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Salvador Dalí, Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly and Edvard Munch, as the collection rotates with monthly exhibitions.

Has Sarasota birthed yet another museum? Not quite. Welcome to Lemon Tree Art Gallery—and there’s no entrance fee.

It opened its doors quietly on Palm Avenue this past October, taking its name from the restaurant next door, but an unassuming nature belies an impressive collection of international art from 20th-century masters and emerging artists both, and the Lemon Tree Art Gallery looks to be a significant addition to the Downtown Sarasota art community. This could prove particularly true on those First Friday Art Walks, when the new gallery forms a bridge between the Art Ovation scene and galleries like Art Uptown Gallery on Main and Dabbert Gallery further down Palm, attracting eyeballs and foot traffic with live artist demos from painters, jewelers and glass artists.

“It was just logical,” says Paul Sykes, the international art dealer and gallerist who transformed what was The Francis into this local hot spot for artistic celebration, whitewashing the walls for that modern gallery feel and swapping the psychedelic carpet for pure black. “I left it simple so that the color on the canvases comes off the wall,” he says. “With this lighting, the paintings pop.”

This includes the work of Taguhi “Tegi” Barsegian, an Armenian surrealist who has shown in galleries and museums around the world, including Russia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic, as well as extensive exhibitions across the US, from New York City to Hollywood and from Jersey City to Miami, just recently landing in Sarasota. “Her palette is amazing,” says Sykes. “She paints somewhere between the colors—not too dull, not too bright—and her technique is Picasso- and Dalí-level. No question.” Gallery visitors can find two of her large-scale works on display, complicated and dreamlike constructions full of symbols and hidden meaning, but they best move quickly. The pair represents the last of what Tegi refers to as her old style, with the lights and colors of Sarasota ushering in a new phase of her artistic career—a feat that even New York City couldn’t inspire. “Only Sarasota has affected me,” she says.

With a new exhibition each month, January saw a presentation of handmade traditional dresses and costumes from Korea, February brought work by Salvador Dalí to the forefront and this month features the work of surrealist Natasha Turovsky. SRQ