Immerse yourself in the arts and culture world Sarasota and Bradenton are so famous for. This summer, our local A&E scene includes a celebration of America
along with theatrical treats and performances to delight the entire family. 


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The New Black Vanguard

SARASOTA ART MUSEUM  | The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion presents artists whose vibrant portraits and conceptual images fuse the genres of art and fashion photography in ways that break down long-established boundaries. Their work has been widely consumed in traditional lifestyle magazines, ad campaigns and museums, as well as on their individual social-media channels, reinfusing the contemporary visual vocabulary around beauty and the body with new vitality and substance. The images open up conversations around the representation of the Black body and Black lives as subject matter; collectively, they celebrate Black creativity and the cross-pollination between art, fashion and culture in constructing an image. Seeking to challenge the idea that Blackness is homogenous, the works serve as a form of visual activism. It’s a perspective often seen from this loose movement of thriving talents, who are creating photography in vastly different contexts—New York and Johannesburg, Lagos and London. Through September 18, 1001 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-309-4300.

Photo 2Lorna Bieber: The Natural World

RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART | “I’m always interested in people working at the boundaries of photography,” says Christopher Jones, the Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan curator of Photography and Media Art at The Ringling Museum of Art. “Nowadays, everybody is a photographer, we all take images and we’re all inundated with images all the time through social media, but I’m really intrigued with people who redirect conversations about photography and what it is.”One of the artists that caught Jones’ eye is Lorna Bieber, an artist who operates on the edge of photography who creates massive textile pieces made from recycled and manipulated imagery. Lorna Bieber: The Natural World, opened at The Ringling on May 20, and features pieces from Bieber’s Montage series including her two newest works, Ordinary Day and Quiet Night. “These pieces are almost on a similar scale to medieval tapestries. Lorna works with these little fragments of photos and images that she photocopies from books or magazines that she manipulates and slowly creates these assemblages on the wall,” says Jones. “She’ll spend more than a year, sometimes two or three years, creating these pieces before she photographs them and prints them onto a canvas. They’re incredibly immersive and take up your entire field of vision when you’re looking at them.” Through October 15, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota,

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Run Away with the Circus

CIRCUS ARTS CONSERVATORY  | This summer, join in on a classic Sarasota tradition by seeing The Summer Circus Spectacular at The Ringling’s Historic Asolo Theater. The spectacle is the product of a longstanding partnership between the Circus Arts Academy and The Ringling and provides the chance for visitors and locals alike to experience some of the best of what the circus has to offer–all while staying out of the heat. “This is something that we’ve done with the Circus Arts Academy for many years,” says Elizabeth Doud, The Ringling’s Connie-Kuhlman curator of Performance. “The way it’s arranged is that the Circus Arts Academy handles all of the artist selection and programming, while we provide the theater and all of the support for the production in our space.” The lineup for this year’s festival includes Heidi Herriott as the master of ceremonies, the hand balancing act, The Alexis Brothers, Garret Allen on the aerial ropes and more. “The event is an hour-long show that’s super popular locally,” says Doud. “It runs nine weeks from June 9 through August 12 with two shows a day from Tuesday through Saturday.”  Tuesday to Friday at 11am and 2pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 5pm, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota,

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That Must Be the Entrance to Heaven

URBANITE THEATRE  | Indulge yourself in the arts of the cultural coast this summer by checking out Urbanite Theatre’s That Must Be the Entrance To Heaven, which makes its world premiere on June 9 and runs through July 9. The play, written by Franky D. Gonzalez and directed by Kathleen Capdesuñer, takes a cosmic journey through time and space as it follows four Latino boxers chasing a world title to achieve their personal versions of heaven. Gonzalez, the recipient of the 2020 Charles Rowan Beye New Play Commission at Urbanite Theatre, is an award-winning playwright whose work has been seen around the country and was a staff writer on the fourth season of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. For Gonzalez, the play is just as much about his own personal journey as it is the boxers fighting for the world title. “Many playwrights write from their own personal experiences and while I’ve never boxed myself, I’m a passionate boxing fan,” says Gonzalez. “However, the stories that I’m telling in the framework of boxing are each equal parts of myself. In many ways, these four characters are different facets of myself–they are the personification of my own inner struggles, competing against each other. This play in many respects is me trying to figure out what is the most important thing in my life?” Image courtesy of Sorcha Augustine. June 9 to July 9, Urbanite Theatre, 1487 2nd St., Sarasota, 

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Freestyle Fun

FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE | Something special is always cooking up at Florida Studio Theatre and this summer is no exception. On July 21, 22 and 23, FST will host the 13th Annual Sarasota Improv Festival, which will feature more than 20 troupes, 80 artists and 29 performances along with workshops led by festival artists on improvisational styles and techniques. The headliner of the festival is none other than MC Hammersmith (real name Will Naameh), a multi-award-winning, Scotland-based hip hop comedian. “I’m a freestyle rap comedian from the suburb of Hammersmith in West London. I perform entirely improvised hip hop comedy under my rap name MC Hammersmith,” says Naameh. “People in the audience suggest random words, random topics and tell me stories and I turn these all into entirely improvised full-length raps on the spot.” Part of what Naameh loves about his act is the shock value it brings to audience members. “As a privately-educated man with a thick English accent, it’s fair to say people don’t expect me to freestyle rap when I walk onstage. I love surprising people, and getting to improvise by using the audience as a scene partner. The rhyming is a secondary bonus to the joy of discovery every show,” says Naameh. Image courtesy of Lance Fuller.  July 20 to 22, 2023, 1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota,

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Ecosystem All-Stars

THE BISHOP MUSEUM  | This summer, head to The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature to check out Eco Engineers, one of the museum’s latest special temporary exhibitions. “This is our year of engineering at the Bishop so we wanted to explore engineering from a couple of different perspectives,” says Ashley Waite, Director of Museum Experience at The Bishop. “In Eco Engineers, we’re highlighting nine native species that all modify their habitats so drastically that they’re put into this special category called ecosystem engineers.” The photography-based exhibition breaks the species down into three categories: land, water’s edge and the sea. “For the land category, we’re focusing on the gopher tortoise, the southern live oak tree and a red-cockaded woodpecker. The water’s edge highlights animals that live in the inbetween, so we have the North American beaver, American alligators and red mangroves. And finally, in the sea we have the green sea turtle, the red grouper and hard corals,” says Waite.  April 7 to September 3, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton, 

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Second Time’s A Charm

FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE  | “As soon as I’ve directed a play, I think to myself, ‘Oh now I know how to direct it’,” says director Kate Alexander. “Because you go on a journey with a play, you have to get into the nooks and crannies of it. I think with any piece of art, any time you look at it or observe it you do so with different eyes. Now, I get to take a decade of experience and change–both internally for myself and externally in the world–and bring all that wealth to it.” Alexander is talking about Black Pearl Sings!, premiering June 28 as a part of Florida Studio Theatre’s Summer Mainstage Series. The play, which takes place in 1935 Depression-Era Texas, follows the unlikely bond that’s formed between Susannah, a musicologist from the Library of Congress, and Pearl, an African American woman serving time in a female prison, whose memory holds an amassment of unrecorded slave-era music. Black Pearl Sings! was originally developed in part by FST and was part of FST’s 2008 Burdick Reading Series, before premiering in the company’s Winter Mainstage series in April 2009. This time around, FST has brought Alexander back as director as well as Alice M. Gatling as Alberta “Pearl” Johnson and will feature slight tweaks and edits to the script to make it more apt to today’s contemporary climate.  June 28 to July 30. FST's Keating Theatre, 1241 North Palme Ave., Sarasota,

Laser Light Nights

THE BISHOP MUSEUM | Rock the night away at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from May 25 through September 2. Break out your acid-washed jeans, stock up on the hairspray and groove along with the music of your favorite artists in the Planetarium. A variety of food options and drinks are available for purchase onsite with cash or card. Please note, Laser Light Nights involve bright, flashing lights that may not be suitable for people with photo sensitivities. Viewer discretion is advised. Laser Light Nights run at a volume similar to a rock concert. Ear plugs are advised for those who prefer a lower volume.  201 10th St W., Bradenton, 941-746-4131,