For many, The Ringling might only exist as a visual entity. After all, The Ringling’s Museum of Fine Art is one of the most established institutions in the region, if not the entire country. However, tucked away in the confines of The Ringling’s campus lies a somewhat hidden gem: the museum’s Art of Performance series. The Ringling’s Art of Performance series is a haven for some of the most diverse and cutting-edge performers in the world. The performances, which typically take place in The Ringling’s Historic Asolo Theater, can vary widely in scope, style and perspective. That’s part of why the Art of Performance series exists in the first place–in a region saturated with a wealth of performing arts organizations, this series aims to offer audience members something that they cannot find elsewhere. That means pulling performers from all corners of the globe such as Haiti, Argentina and yes, even Florida’s Gulf Coast. This season features 13 different performances, from October through early May, ranging from musical concerts to contemporary dance and more. One of the focuses of this season is to celebrate artists from Francophone countries. These performances include names like BelO, a beloved contemporary Haitian musician who has been hailed as Haiti’s musical ambassador to the world and Les Francophonies, a France-based theater ensemble who will be telling the story of the Congo through an evening of Congolese music in their performance Congo Jazz Band. More locally-centered performances include Florida Woman, a dance theater experience created by Sarasota choreographer Leah Verier Dunn and Miami-based choreographer Rosie Herrera that uses the internet meme of the “Florida Man” as a way to interrogate the mythos of Floridian culture. -D. Campbell The Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota,

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Uncover The Art of War

Choreographer Edwaard Liang will make his Sarasota Ballet debut with The Art of War, a 16-minute-
long ballet that forms part of Conflicted Beauty, the 2023-2024 season’s second program. Liang, also the current artistic director of BalletMet—a ballet company and dance academy located in Columbus, Ohio—had been waiting to work with Director Iain Webb and his team in Sarasota and is excited to collaborate with them on this piece. Michael Torke’s Ash, a powerful composition, drives the ballet. “I grew up in the New York City ballet, where the music comes first, and I’ve always adopted that mindset,” he says. “The music is the inspiration; if you let it guide you, it will do the work for you.” Drawn to the minimalism of the composition, Liang paired it with elements from The Art of War, a Chinese war strategy book with philosophical nuances and an exploration of calligraphy, an iconic part of the country’s culture. In the piece, dancers pop up alongside large swathes of red and black fabric. “In calligraphy, there are different brushstrokes, so we asked the dancers to make those strokes from the elbow, transposing visual art into physical art.” He explains that while both forms are strategic and calculated, the written nature of calligraphy allows it to retain permanence from moment to moment, yet dance is ephemeral. “Dance exists in space, using the dancers and scenery to create something, and then it’s gone. That’s the magic of dance. Even though it’s gone from the actual space and theater, the energy, imagery and feeling dance creates will stay with the performers and audience forever,” he says, “allowing us to better understand our own humanity.”  —L.Paquette Sarasota Ballet, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-359-0099, The Art of War takesplace on November 17-18. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit

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The Orchid Show + Clyde Butcher: Through the Lens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a treasure trove full of beautiful tropical plants, but its crown jewel is certainly the rare orchid collection that is celebrated during the annual orchid show. The Botanical Gardens are renowned for having the world’s best documented collection of orchids and this year will be the show’s 50th anniversary celebration. President and CEO Jennifer Rominiecki shares that to commemorate the past 50 years and the Garden’s international recognition, the show will consist of both a stunning horticultural display, as well as a curated historical exhibit. The horticultural display is to take place in the tropical conservatory and will show not only some of the nearly 2,000 rare orchid species Selby has discovered in the last 50 years, but also the creative, innovative ways orchids can be presented due to their innate characteristics as air plants. “What’s great about orchids, and other air plants, is their ability to be suspended in different ways because the orchids we’re showcasing do not require soil. They grow in the air and get their nutrients from the air,” Rominiecki says. “They’re found in canopies and tree tops and can grow in different ways. So, I think that our team will be able to showcase the different ways that orchids can grow and flourish in different environments.”  Along with the dazzling orchid displays, guests will be given a snapshot into Selby’s rich history and how it garnered the world’s best orchid collection since its founding just 50 short years ago in 1973. Also on display this year at Selby Gardens is Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens. The show features large-scale prints on aluminum of Butcher’s beautiful images of plants, animals and habitats of Florida, exhibited in their own natural landscape. Experiencing his dramatic interpretations of nature outside in this complimentary setting will enable visitors to engage with Butcher’s art like never before.  —E.Dannenfelser   The Orchid Show 2023: A 50th Anniversary Celebration will be held at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden’s Downtown Sarasota campus from Oct 7-Nov 26. Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens will run from November through next August at Historic Spanish Point in Osprey. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 1534 Mound Street, Sarasota, 941-366-5731; Historic Spanish Point Campus, 401 N Tamiami Trail, Osprey, 941-366-5731,

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Twelve Angry Men

Taking over the reins of the largest repertory theater in the Southeastern United States is no easy task. Luckily for audiences at Asolo Repertory Theatre, Peter Rothstein is more than up to the task. As of July 1st, Rothstein, an accomplished director and former co-founder and artistic director of Minneapolis’ Theater Latté Da, succeeded Michael Donald Edwards as Producing artistic director at Asolo Repertory Theatre. Now, entering his first season as captain of the ship, Rothstein is excited to make his mark on Sarasota audiences. “Michael and I really put this season together hand in hand,” says Rothstein. “By the time I was brought on board, he had already put some things in place, so it really became a collaboration where we were both bringing ideas to the table and working with other folks in the artistic department. It was actually really helpful to me, to be inside those conversations of how he thinks about programming for this community at this time. There’s a lot of nuance to understanding who your community is, what work they want to see, what work you want them to see and how you can perhaps guide them to places they aren’t expecting to go.”  A work that will undoubtedly take audiences to unexpected places is Asolo Rep’s final production of the season, Twelve Angry Men: A New Musical. The musical is one that Rothstein is quite familiar with–he directed the world premiere back at Theater Latté Da last summer. “I’ve been working on this musical for about five years with the writers and it’s a very fresh take on one of the great American courtroom dramas,” says Rothstein. “Not only because it’s a musical, but because it’s not about twelve angry white men–it uses a multi-cultural cast to create an exploration of our justice system. It delves into how race plays out inside our justice system, toxic masculinity, what fathers pass on to their sons and how that impacts how just of a society we live and move through.” —D.Campbell   Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-351-8000,

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Circus Sarasota

Nothing is more intrinsic to Sarasota than the circus. Ever since John Ringling moved his circus’ winter home to the Gulf Coast in 1927, the circus has been an integral part of the city’s identity. Now, at the helm of the Circus Arts Conservatory, a multi-tiered organization that includes training, educational programming and world-class performances, the circus in Sarasota is stronger than ever. One of the Conservatory’s flagship performances of the upcoming season is Circus Sarasota, a one-ring spectacle that will be performed from February 16 to March 20, 2024. “Our goal is to present the best of the best circus performers in the world,” says Jennifer Mitchell, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Conservatory. “We look for who is actively out there that will wow our audiences and we bring in a crowd favorite from the past.” Part of the spectacle of this year’s iteration of Circus Sarasota is a new state of the art big top tent that will house the production. “Everyone who will come to Circus Sarasota in 2024 will feel the experience of being a first timer in the Conservatory’s newest tent. We wanted to be conscious and mindful of the future and thought that this offseason would be a great time to invest in a new tent,” says Mitchell. “Our big tops are some of the most beautiful circus venues in the country. With the art form being recognized at the highest level within the show, we wanted to make sure that the experience as a whole lives up to that standard.” Highlight acts for this season’s Circus Sarasota include bareback horse riding, the storied Espana circus family and the quick-change act Duo Minasov. “In this show, you’ll see everything from the beautiful side of circus artistry to the edge of your seat, risk-taking acrobatics,” says Mitchell. —D.Campbell   Circus Arts Conservatory, 2075 Bahia Vista Street, Sarasota, 941.355.9805,

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The Sidebar Series 

The Players Centre is excited to present the Sidebar Series in the black box theater space. “This fall series will encompass works designed to create community engagement and reflection on the fragility of the human condition,” says Artistic Director Steven Butler. In October, look out for Winter Flowers, an original play focusing on two elderly sisters that mesmerized Butler, giving him a greater appreciation for the production and subject matter. “The older sister Delphie is the caretaker for the younger Rosie, who has the mentality of a seven-year-old,” adds Butler. “Delphie has stomach cancer, reaching a point at which she can no longer care for Rosie. She tries to convince her younger sister to allow them to move from the only home they’ve ever known into a nursing home where they can both obtain better care, but faces great resistance and must make life-changing decisions.” For Butler, the work encourages awareness of elder affairs, an issue pertinent to the Sarasota community and the nation as a whole. “With so many baby boomers reaching the point where they need elder care, it’s important to bring up and engage with the topic,” he says. Pass Over, the November selection, also explores timely social issues. Butler explains that this play is considered to be the urban version of Waiting for Godot. “In the show, two young African American men, Moses and Kitch, stand on a street corner in an urban environment, dreaming about what it will be like when they get to the promised land—someplace better where they can escape their current realities,” Butler adds. “These men have grown up with and live in a place with economic, medical and social disparities. It’s the only life they know, but they aren’t content with it and know that there is something else better out there.” He hopes that audiences leave the show and start conversations about these important issues faced by many people in the United States. “I want them to be inspired to be more socially conscious and take up advocacy roles,” he says.  —L.Paquette  The Players Center, The Crossings at Siesta Key, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-365-2494. Winter Flowers runs from October 20-22 and 27-29. Pass Over runs from November 10-12 and 17-19. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit

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Once on This Island 

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s 2023-2024 season will open on October 11 with the coming-of-age production Once on This Island, a musical based on the book My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy. The WBTT was founded in 1999 as a nonprofit with the primary goal of presenting artistic forms of theater based on the African American experience. Once on This Island weaves a love story based around a young girl coming-of-age and looking for love, but also one that is set between reality and fantasy, says Jim Weaver, director and choreographer for the show. “It’s a love story, but within that, it also addresses the intercultural differences between being very dark skin, very brown skin or light skin. Also, class and the conflict that exists there, the distinctions and ‘never the twain shall meet’. In other words, if you’re in the lower class, you cannot become part of the upper class. So, it deals with those kinds of things,” Weaver adds. The show’s score, and script, is by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the same team behind the award-winning show Ragtime. While the score is based on Carribean style music, it also features an array of styles, from simple, romantic guitars to African rhythms. A unique aspect of Once on This Island is that the show was not created with a specific time period in mind, meaning it could be set in the past, present or future, Weaver adds. “It’s so simple. It doesn’t get into too many pyrotechnics or special effects and all that kind of stuff. But the moral of the story resonates with everybody, no matter what your background is, because it’s in essence about a love that everybody can relate to,” Weaver says. “So, as the story unfolds, you just kind of find yourself going down this journey and getting pulled along with the fantasy of it,  but also the truth of it. And that’s what I think really gets people, because it tugs at the heartstrings.” —E.Dannenfelser  Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. 1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-1505. Once on This Island will run from October 11 to November 19. For more information, visit

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Always Evolving

How does a performing arts organization last 18 years in a market as competitive as Sarasota’s? By continuing to push the boundaries of its craft each and every year, stretching the limits of what audience members thought possible with the medium. That’s exactly what Sarasota Contemporary Dance aims to do in its 18th year, with four mainstage performances scheduled for the upcoming 2023-24 season. “Last season was about reclaiming–the stage, the stories and realigning ourselves as an organization,” says Leymis Bolaños Wilmott, co-founder and artistic director of Sarasota Contemporary Dance. “We’re calling this season a season of exhale. We’re continuing to elevate dancers, dance makers and our community while expanding our repertory and our reach. We aim to be not just a repertory company of my work, but a company where you can really get a sense of what the breadth of contemporary dance can be.” One such performance that aims to give audience members a look into just how expansive a genre contemporary dance can be is the company’s second show of the season Evolving/Revolving. The evening-length work, which will run without intermission for 45 to 50 minutes, looks to be a sharp departure from the company’s first performance of the year, which is a collaboration with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. “I really want Evolving/Revolving to be a contemporary art exhibit, so that it’s more of a visceral and visually-enhancing experience,” says Wilmott. “I’m bringing in one of my students from New College of Florida who will be doing projection design to pair with the dancing. We’re really trying to expand what contemporary dance can be and expand what the breadth of our repertoire is. This should look like something that has never been done by SCD.” —D.Campbell  Sarasota Contemporary Dance, 1900 Boulevard of the Arts, Suite 300, Sarasota,

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A Blast from the Past

“Every year, we try to do one opera that’s not commonly done,” says Richard Russell, general director of the Sarasota Opera. “When talking with my colleague Maestro DeRenzi about operas in this category, we brought up Joseph Haydn. I’ve always been an admirer of Haydn’s works, especially with my background as a singer and a choral conductor, so I was very interested in rediscovering these works.”  Russell is talking about Deceit Outwitted (L’infedelta delusa), by Joseph Haydn, the fourth and final opera of the Sarasota Opera’s upcoming Winter Opera Festival. Deceit Outwitted, a comic opera about a pair of star-crossed lovers, is for Russell a diamond in the rough–one of the few truly unknown operas to audiences and artists alike. Not only is this season’s performance of Deceit Outwitted  the first in the 64 year history of the Sarasota Opera, but it is the first fully-staged production of the opera by a professional opera company since 1971. “It’s a very seldom performed work by a composer that people don’t associate with opera. Joseph Haydn, who was a very well known classical composer and close friend of Mozart, wrote 15 operas which are rarely performed,” says Russell. “While Haydn was mostly for his symphonies and string quartets, he spent a lot of time in his career as the music master in a noble household in Hungary. Part of his job was to produce operas, but for years the scores to his operas were not really widely available. It was really only in the 1950s and 1960s that people came to see these works again and they were rediscovered.” For both audience members and the artistic staff of the Sarasota Opera, Deceit Outwitted is a chance to start afresh with what feels like an entirely new work. “It is a work that people will have to learn from scratch–all the other operas have famous arias or singers–so they really have to do a little bit more homework when preparing it because there’s not as much of a frame of reference,” says Russell. “The same thing goes for our directors and designers–if you’re directing an opera like Carmen, you’ve probably seen a production of it at some point. With this, your imagination comes from what’s written in the score. There’s no history to it, it’s a sense of discovery as much for the artist as the audience.” —D.Campbell  Sarasota Opera, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 941-328-1300,

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Revisit a Timeless Love Story 

This November, Van Wezel Performing Arts Center will be presenting the Sarasota premiere of Pretty Woman: The Musical, based on one of Hollywood’s most beloved, romantic and timeless films of the 1990s. The tale follows street-smart and vivacious escort Vivian Ward, who is hired by Edward Lewis, a cold-hearted business mogul, for several days as his date. Within the days that follow, the two fall in love, even though their socioeconomic differences try to pull them apart.  Pretty Woman: The Musical is directed and choreographed by two-time Tony Award winner, Jerry Mitchell, who is also known as the creative mastermind behind the musicals Hairspray, Kinky Boots and Legally Blonde, and is produced by Paula Wagner. “If you’ve seen the movie and loved the movie, then you will absolutely love the musical.  Pretty Woman: The Musical takes the beloved film and reinvigorates it through musical theater,” says Mary Bensel, executive director of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center. The show features a score by Grammy winner and iconic voice of the 1980s, Bryan Adams, and Jim Vallance, who has written songs for Adams and other artists, such as Ozzy Osbourne, Heart and Aerosmith. Of course, the hit song Oh, Pretty Woman, by Roy Orbison and Bill Dee, will also be included in the score. “This marks the first time we’ve brought  Pretty Woman: The Musical to Sarasota so that’s very exciting,” Bensel adds. “The movie is so iconic and well-known that we really think our guests will enjoy the story as a live theatrical experience.” The show will run on November 27 and 28, with a total of three performances to choose from. —E.Dannenfelser  Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 263-6799,

Blinded By the Light

As one of the most established performing arts institutions on the Gulf Coast, Florida Studio Theatre has had to wear many hats. From dishing box office hits new and old in their Mainstage Series to introducing audiences to developing new work to presenting audiences with edgier, contemporary stories in their Stage III Series, the company seems to have done it all. One of Florida Studio Theatre’s flagship programs is their Summer and Winter Cabaret Series, which are developed in-house and offer a completely different experience to theatergoers throughout the year. One of the standout productions from this season’s upcoming Winter Cabaret Series is Blinded By the Light (title may change), a show highlighting Rock and Roll’s reaction to the American Revolution in the 1970s. Featuring music from artists such as Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles and Simon & Garfunkel, Blinded By the Light looks to give audiences a blast from the past in a new and exciting way. “We’re really focusing on the bands of the 1970s,” says Richard Hopkins, producing artistic director and CEO of Florida Studio Theatre. “So there’s The Eagles and Bruce Springsteen, but in the midst of this great rock music, there was a simultaneous folk movement happening with people like Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel which had started in the 1960s, but was still going strong in the 1970s. You have these parallel movements happening at the same time and they’re influencing each other.” By examining the cultural revolution that occurred throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Hopkins hopes that audiences will see the parallels between then and the turbulent climate of today. “This is such a great period of music, because you get to unravel the huge revolution that was going on coming out of the 1960s into the early ‘70s. Everything that was born in the ‘60s, from the sexual revolution to the peace and civil rights movements became mature and muscular in the ‘70s,” says Hopkins. “It was just a tremendous time of cultural revolution and upheaval that creates a really interesting parallel between what occurred then and what’s happening now.”  —D.Campbell  Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N Palm Ave, Sarasota, 941-366-9000,

Tall Tales and Treasure

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the Venice Symphony is pushing the envelope with novel performances. “This is our landmark season, and our goal was to bring in concerts, vocalists and musicians that we’ve never had before and offer exciting experiences to the community,” says symphony President and CEO Christine Kasten. One such work is the Tall Tales & Treasure concert in January. The show will feature music from Disney films like The Little Mermaid performed by Guest Vocalist Lauren Jelencovich, a classically trained vocalist. Attendees will hear Hans Zimmer’s score to Pirates of the Caribbean in its original film arrangement. “The concert is an interdisciplinary production with a light package and videos on screen coinciding with the music,” adds Music Director and Conductor Troy Quinn, “so it’s more like a concert experience.” Compositions from other films, including The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and How to Train Your Dragon will also guide the audience through iconic and beloved stories. “We’re trying to create a program that will appeal to everyone and keep people coming back from more,” Quinn says, “which is typical of what we do here.” Further upping the ante for the season are the three Hooray for Hollywood with Michael Feinstein concerts in February. Feinstein will sing film music favorites such as Singin’ in the Rain and The Way You Look Tonight. “He’s a five-time Grammy nominee, and this is the first time we’ve had someone of that caliber perform,” adds Kasten. Anyone looking to let the music sweep them away—to Venice, Italy, that is—will revel in Venetian Nights, a celebration of the symphony’s anniversary. “Having an elevated event of this size is new for us. We’ll transform the hall in the community center into Venice,” she says. “There will be a jazz orchestra and live statues, and you’ll feel as though you’re strolling the streets of the city.” As a growing organization, the Venice Symphony is thrilled to offer audiences immersive programs that invite them to further explore music’s spellbinding nature.  —L.Paquette  Venice Symphony, 700 U.S. Highway 41 Bypass North, Suite 4, Venice, 941-207-8822, Tall Tales & Treasure takes place on January 12 and 13. Hooray for Hollywood with Michael Feinstein takes place on February 9 and 10. Venetian Nights will take place on January 5. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Caesar! and The Markov Family

After being canceled due to Hurricane Ian, Artist Series Concerts is proud to present Caesar! and The Markov Family. “The first half of the concert
focuses on the Markov family, who escaped from the Soviet Union to the United States,” says Daniel Jordan, the director of artistic planning for Artist Series Concerts. Music teachers Albert and Marina Markov brought their son, Alexander, to New York, where he honed his violin skills. “Emerging in the 1990s, Alexander was a great violinist and had a fantastic career as a violin soloist,” he adds. Alexander will join his mother and father, playing with them in duo and trio formats accompanied by piano and string players. The family will wow audiences with classics from composers Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Tartini and Pablo Sarasate. “Alexander wants to appeal to a wider audience than just classical music listeners,” Jordan says. “He’s very interested in music education and connecting with kids.” In the concert’s second half, Alexander will showcase his skills playing his 24-karat-gold-plated six-string electric violin alongside an orchestra, rhythm section, Key Chorale and the Booker High School VPA (Visual and Performing Arts) Choir. Jordan estimates that around 100 people will fill the stage to perform Caesar!, which Alexander composed about Roman leader Julius Caesar. “We want to entertain and uplift through the arts,” he adds, “and I hope it will connect with a wide variety of people who love classical music or listen to more mainstream pop music by exposing them to something different.”  —L.Paquette  Artist Series Concerts, 1226 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-306-1200, Caesar! and The Markov Family will take place on November 18. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit

Aimee Jones Illustrates the Modern-Day Feminine Experience

At just under 100 years old, Art Center Sarasota is one of Sarasota’s oldest arts organizations and aims to showcase diverse artists and mediums, while also opening up discussions surrounding current issues through the center’s galleries. An exhibition with artist Aimee Jones opening on December 8 will examine the inner workings of femininity while using the lush botanical landscape of Florida. Jones’ work largely plays into both concealing and presenting the female body in ways that depict the immense pressure and hypervisibility many women are experiencing at this point in time due to the political climate surrounding issues such as abortion, including the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. Many pieces feature female forms in both conventional and unexpected ways, within domestic or botanical landscapes, and her inspiration is drawn both from history and modern fashion trends. “She has a lot of historical art references in her work and she is specifically drawn to ‘invisible mothers’, which is a Victorian photography genre,” Chrsitina Baril, exhibitions director for Art Center Sarasota, says. “She’s also particularly interested in fashion magazine pages and the way they depict women.” The ‘invisible mother’ trend was common during the 19th century and refers to when mothers either covered themselves in fabric, or stood slightly out of frame to keep their babies still while being photographed. The trend died out once cameras were able to capture images faster, therefore not requiring babies to sit still for minutes at a time. Jones received her Master’s of Fine Arts in Women and Gender Studies from University of South Florida in 2022 and has presented exhibitions in Spain and New York City. Additionally, she was a finalist for the Carlos Malamud Prize in 2022 and participated in HANNAC Can Borni Residency in Barcelona. —E.Dannenfelser  Art Center Sarasota, 707 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-365-2032, Exhibit from November 27 to January 13. For more information visit

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra  and Cellist Alisa Weilerstein 

The Sarasota Concert Association is known for presenting the Sarasota art scene with everything from world-renowned orchestras to acclaimed solo performances and its 79th season will be no exception. One exciting performance featured in the 2024 Great Performers Series is the Detroit Symphony Orchestra accompanied by Cellist Alisa Weilerstein on February 19. The symphony will be directed by Jader Bignamini and will open the show with Emerge, by American composer Michael Abels. Abels, who recently won a Pulitzer Prize for co-writing an opera, also wrote the score for the widely-known films Get Out and Us, says the Executive Director of the Association, Linda Moxley. The symphony will also perform Rimsky-Korsakov's beloved work, Scheherazade. "Scheherazade is a wonderful work, very popular with audiences, inspired by the tales of the Arabian Nights," Moxley adds. "The audience will hear expressive storytelling through the orchestral performance. It was composed in 1888, so it tells a musical narrative of the Arabian Nights fairytale, which is pretty exciting. Alissa Weilerstein will join the symphony of Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor, which is one of the most popular concertos in the cello repertoire, Weilerstein began playing the cello at four years old and made her major debut with the Cleveland Orchestra at only thirteen-years-old. In 2011, Weilerstein went on to win a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship. "In reviews by the New York Times and other publications, she's been described as playing with great emotion, artistry and depth," Moxley says. "So, she's playing all over the world and people just love her playing. She's very visually captivating and just an extraordinary emotional player." —E.Dannenfelser  Sarasota Concert Association, PO Box 211, Sarasota, 941-966-6161, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Alisa Weilerstein will be performing at the Sarasota Concert Series on February 19, 2024 at 7:30pm.

Picking Up the Pieces

Oh how time flies. In 1981, Judy Pfaff was an emerging installation artist, debuting one of her first exhibitions, Rorschach at the Ringling Museum of Art. Fast forward to 2010, and Pfaff found herself in Sarasota once again, this time visiting the dilapidated Sarasota High School, gaining future inspiration. Now, 13 years later, Pfaff returns to that same building–only now that worn down building has transformed into the Sarasota Art Museum, a haven for modern and cutting edge art that will house Pfaff’s next installation Judy Pfaff: Picking Up The Pieces.  Since that exhibition back in 1981, Pfaff has become one of the pioneers of installation art, receiving awards such as the MacArthur “Genius” Foundation Award and the Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work, which has been seen all over the world, is perhaps more accurately described by who she is–Pfaff is at once a craftsman and artist. She is a welder, designer, glassblower, painter, sculptor and more; her installations are site-specific, drawing inspiration from the environment around her and the happenings of the time. Picking Up The Pieces will be Pfaff’s largest installation since 2017, partially inspired by the tall ceilings and ample light of Sarasota Art Museum’s spaces and partially by the impact of climate change and hurricanes of recent years. “We’re so excited to have Judy Pfaff here in our museum. It feels like one of those stories that could only happen in Sarasota,” says Virginia Shearer, executive director of the Sarasota Art Museum. “She came to Sarasota for a site visit last fall after Hurricane Ian and she was really struck by the destruction just south of us. She’s creating a brand new site-specific, immersive installation that’s going to draw on her love of our climate, our ecology, our light, everything that is so wonderful about Sarasota, but it’s also going to be informed by the destruction and environmental changes of the hurricane.” —D.Campbell  Sarasota Art Museum, 1001 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-309-4300,


Making your mark in Sarasota’s performing arts scene is no easy task. For as fortunate as locals and visitors alike are to bask in Florida’s “Cultural Coast”, there’s an underlying pressure on performing arts organizations to continue to bring excellent work to audiences around the region. For the past nine years, Urbanite Theatre has done just that, curating contemporary plays that are at the forefront of the industry. This year, Urbanite’s 10th season, is no different–the season’s mainstage productions include a whopping three world premieres and one regional premiere as well.  “I think it’s extremely important to try to usher in new work. I think Urbanite can take risks on new works because we’re a smaller theater company, we only have to fill so many seats,” says Summer Wallace, producing artistic director of Urbanite Theatre. “That’s kind of what we built the DNA of the company on for the last decade. One of the goals I have for the company is that we’re not just known in Sarasota for doing new works, but really nationally as well.” One such new work is Westminster, by Brenda Withers, which makes its world premiere at Urbanite on March 22, 2024. Westminster, the winner of the 2023 Urbanite Theatre Modern Works Festival, will be directed by Wallace and focuses on the strained relationship between lifelong friends Pia and Krys, when Krys gifts Pia a surprise rescue dog. “I really love Brenda’s writing and style,” says Wallace. “It’s a play about a dog that’s also not about a dog at all. These two women basically face off with their partners over issues of class, accountability and good breeding so to speak. It’s part morality play, part farce, screwball romp and really dives into social prejudices of these characters and the consequences that they have.”  —D.Campbell  Urbanite Theatre, 1487 2nd St., Sarasota, 941-321-1397,

On a High Note with Schumann, Smetana and More

La Musica Chamber Music’s 2024 Season will encompass five concerts, three of which make up the institution’s April festival, which pays tribute to Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Antonín Dvorák and Felix Mendelssohn. The season and festival finale, Schumann, Smetana and More, celebrates Czech, American, Bulgarian and German works. “Schumann helped and elevated Brahms as his student,” says Wu Han, La Musica’s artistic director, “and Brahms discovered and elevated Dvorák. Mendelssohn was also a close friend of the Schumann family, so there’s a lot of friendship and mentorship hidden in the three programs.” The last performance will showcase Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44. Schumann wrote the piece in 1842 for his wife, Clara. “She was a great pianist who supported their family, which is incredibly unusual for the 19th century,” adds Wu Han. “Because of Clara, Robert could write all the music he wanted. After Schumann wrote that quintet, every composer started writing great piano quintets, from Brahms to Dvorák.” This piano quintet was the first chamber music piece that Wu Han learned to play in the United States. “The fact that this quintet—one of the most beloved by chamber music fans and the first major piano quintet in history—is connected to a hard-working woman, mother, wife and pianist is incredibly close to my heart,” she says. The concert will also celebrate the work of Czech composers Antonín Dvorák, one of Shumann’s contemporaries, and Bedrich Smetana. “Even if you know nothing about chamber music, Smetana’s heart wrenching Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 15, has a beautiful melody and creates a dramatic musical moment,” adds Wu Han. “Once I learned that Smetana wrote the trio because he lost his five-year-old daughter, everything made sense. The dramatic moment was the father’s grieving, all of the melodies were quoted from his daughter’s favorite songs and the playfulness is his remembrance of his child.”  Two lively Bulgarian dances and Lukas Foss’ Capriccio for cello and piano will round out the program. For Wu Han, this season offers musicians a chance to share their passion with listeners eager to gather together and enjoy moving compositions. “After the pandemic, every musician plays with an unbelievable urgency, and I feel it everywhere I travel throughout the world to listen to music,” she says. “People need great art and high-quality music, so a concert is the best place to be. I’m very grateful to be a musician right now.”—L.Paquette  La Musica, P.O. Box 5442, Sarasota, 941-347-9656, The La Musica Chamber Music Festival takes place on April 10, 13 and 16.

Beethoven’s Eroica

Celebrating 75 years of musical excellence, the Sarasota Orchestra’s 2023-2024 season reflects on the institution’s illustrative past while embracing its future. “We want to make a statement about how we live in this world of diverse people and styles of music,” says RoseAnne McCabe, the orchestra’s vice president of artistic operations, “and highlight the power of music in bridging the divide between listeners to make the world better.” The first Masterworks concert, Beethoven’s Eroica, embodies the season’s jubilant spirit, beginning with the Overture to Die Fledermaus, by Johann Strauss II. The fun and enchanting piece leads into a new work by Michael Torke, Sky–Concerto for Violin. “Torke wrote the piece for Tessa Lark, a classically trained violinist. Lark grew up in Kentucky with her father, a bluegrass musician, and this composition is all about Americana, classical music and the bluegrass fiddler movement,” she adds, excited for audiences to experience Lark’s energetic interpretation of the piece. The concert will culminate with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, also known as Eroica. “This piece transformed how listeners perceived classical music as well as how composers wrote music moving forward,” says McCabe. Beethoven wrote Eroica while going deaf, but because of his fame, he didn’t want anyone to know. The composition reflects this internal struggle, running the gamut of human emotions. “He takes you on a journey and expresses feelings that we don’t have words for but which will resonate with every single person in the audience,” she adds. “It’s remarkable that 200 years later, our feelings and emotions have not changed very much. In one symphony, performed by one orchestra, everyone experiences the journey from their own perspective.” —L.Paquette Sarasota Orchestra, 709 N. Tamiami Tr, Sarasota, 941-953-3434, Beethoven's Eroica takes place on November 3-5.

Impressions and Responses

From photography and fine art to fashion and full-scale installation, the 2023-24 gallery season at Ringling College of Art and Design brings 20 exhibitions to the college’s seven galleries. Titled Impressions and Responses, the season is dedicated to exploring art’s place in the never-ending parade of call and response that is the world of cause and effect—and how art can be both. “It’s all about analysis, interpretation and evaluation of artistic expression,” says Tim Jaeger, director and chief curator of galleries and exhibitions at Ringling College. —P.Lederer  Ringling College of Art and Design, 2700 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-351-5100,

Round 1: Aug 21 – Oct

The season kicks off August 21 with Teaching and Learning, a multi-generational photography exhibition that explores not only how the medium has changed and evolved through leaps in technology and shifts in society, but how teachers influence their students and how students respond to their teachers. Beginning with vintage gelatin silver prints from acclaimed mid-century photographers Harry Callahan and Bill Brandt, Teaching and Learning traces a line of mentorship through decades of photography, as each student becomes a teacher to the next generation, culminating in the work of Ringling professor Thomas Carabasi and recent Ringling graduate Jesse Clark. “And in the end, it’s not only about how photography has changed,” says Jaeger, “but how the face of the arts is changing.” Meanwhile, the first floor of the Academic Center will play host to Creatures, Characters and Curious Faces, a fun and family-friendly exhibition of the varied and colorful character designs created by first-year Ringling students, opening September 5. The annual faculty exhibition will also be on display Stulberg Gallery beginning September 11.

Round 2: Nov - Dec

On November 6, the college opens its six-month-long exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Syd Solomon, Reimagining Syd Solomon. Sarasota is no stranger to Syd Solomon, his work or exhibitions celebrating his work, but this one promises something a little different, being curated by the 17 hand-selected students of Jaeger’s class, The Role of the Curator. “It’s re-imagining how Syd’s work can be viewed,” says Jaeger, “and doing so through the eyes of a student.” The exhibition will include two artwalks, as well as evening lectures with artist Mike Solomon and, continuing the season’s theme of impression and response, a fashion show featuring work inspired by Solomon’s palette. Also opening on November 6, the fifth annual War Paint: Profiles of Courage will once again see Ringling students and faculty painting portraits of local veterans for a group exhibition dedicated to putting a human face to the conflict, Illest of Ill showcases the talents of the Ringling Illustration Department, and Here to There features the work of three Ringling students whose lives have been shaped by conflict: a Ukrainian illustrator, a fine artist from Afghanistan and a US Army veteran who served in the Middle East.

Round 3: Jan - Mar

Come January 2024, it’s time for the annual glass exhibition from the collection of Richard and Barbara Basch, Che Colore! Held each year in the Basch Gallery, this glass art showcase always features work in a variety of techniques and from around the world, including Italian legends like Lino Tagliapietra and Lucio Bubacco and American greats like Dale Chihuly. Docent tours with Barbara Basch will be held Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Just as colorful, January also marks the opening of an exhibition of the work of Colombian painter Omar Chacon, a contemporary artist known for his vibrant palette, borderline hypnotic use of repetition and rhythm and complex compositions, as well as a solo exhibition by Ringling’s own senior illustration faculty George Pratt. Recently returned from sabbatical in Morocco, where he followed in the footsteps of some of his artistic inspirations, such as John Singer Sargent and Eugene Delacroix, Pratt’s prolific hand created enough new material to entirely transform one of the college’s galleries into a physical manifestation of the man’s Moroccan mindscape. “It’s like walking through a map,” says Jaeger. “It’s actually amazing how much this guy can draw.”

Round 3: Jan - Mar

Come January 2024, it’s time for the annual glass exhibition from the collection of Richard and Barbara Basch, Che Colore! Held each year in the Basch Gallery, this glass art showcase always features work in a variety of techniques and from around the world, including Italian legends like Lino Tagliapietra and Lucio Bubacco and American greats like Dale Chihuly. Docent tours with Barbara Basch will be held Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Just as colorful, January also marks the opening of an exhibition of the work of Colombian painter Omar Chacon, a contemporary artist known for his vibrant palette, borderline hypnotic use of repetition and rhythm and complex compositions, as well as a solo exhibition by Ringling’s own senior illustration faculty George Pratt. Recently returned from sabbatical in Morocco, where he followed in the footsteps of some of his artistic inspirations, such as John Singer Sargent and Eugene Delacroix, Pratt’s prolific hand created enough new material to entirely transform one of the college’s galleries into a physical manifestation of the man’s Moroccan mindscape. “It’s like walking through a map,” says Jaeger. “It’s actually amazing how much this guy can draw.”

Reimagining Syd Solomon

Perhaps the space that most encapsulates Sarasota’s identity as an artistic haven are the Ringling College Galleries, located on the campus of The Ringling College of Art and Design. These seven galleries are one of the creative hubs of the city–from showcasing student and faculty work to blue-chip exhibitions, the Ringling College Galleries and Exhibitions program seems to have it all. That’s why it makes sense that this season, as one of the 20 exhibitions featured in the Galleries, the program is highlighting Sarasota legacy artist Syd Solomon.  Reimagining Syd Solomon, which debuts this November, features the work of Solomon, an American abstract impressionist artist who after serving in World War II split time between the Hamptons and Sarasota—the latter of which became a major influence on his work. Solomon’s abstract paintings were known for their expressive use of color and movement, which he used to capture the bright, sub-tropical Gulf Coast environment and was the first contemporary artist to be shown at The Ringling Museum of Art. Solomon became such an influential figure in the Sarasota art scene, that in 1964 he created the Institute of Fine Art at the New College in Sarasota. “The exhibition is going to be extremely unique in that it’s not like your traditional museum exhibition. It has museum standards, it’s museum quality, but it’s a different type of experience that’s unlike something that’s been offered with his work before,” says Tim Jaeger, chief curator and director of the Galleries. “With Reimagining Syd Solomon, not only will you have many of his original oil paintings, but you’re also going to see artworks created by students that are created from their response to the impression that Solomon has given them.” —D.Campbell  Ringling College of Art and Design, 2700 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-351-5100,

Ablutions & Affirmations 

SPAACES Contemporary Art Gallery is one of Sarasota’s finest destinations not only for viewing art that introduces a new perspective, but also for supporting local artists who are following their dreams. The gallery strives to give emerging artists the recognition and facilities needed to thrive as professionals. “These are artists who really want to make a career. They are pursuing galleries, they are pursuing residencies and trying to make it to the end goal. The dream for most visual artists is to be in a permanent museum collection, someday,” SPAACES Founding Director, Marianne Chapel Junker, says. “We want to support professional artists who have those types of goals in mind.” One way that SPAACES champions the contemporary art scene is by offering a sliding scale, meaning that artists who earn less, pay less to use the coveted SPAACES facilities. This month’s solo exhibition is by talented Ringling College visiting Professor, Marina Shaltout. The exhibit, Ablutions & Affirmations, was inspired by Shaltout’s critique of the commodification of “self-care” within a capitalistic society. “It’s this idea that society is selling us these sort of ‘remedies’ that actually in turn, create more issues for us”. Shaltout says. “I’m also exploring how those feelings have risen exponentially in the post-COVID landscape that we are living in now,” Shaltout explains that she was inspired to create Ablutions & Affirmations during the summer of 2021 when she was faced with a bout of hair loss due to anxiety surrounding the COVID pandemic, political climate and economy, as well as her own career. Throughout the exhibition, Shaltout uses the bathroom as a stage for showing how even a place many go to relax and unwind cannot escape the influx of marketing and advertisements enticing us to invest in capitalism, even if it is masked by beautiful, sweet-smelling soaps and luxurious products. “Objects reminiscent of the bathroom ambiance are curated to invoke the transitory calmness we experience when we indulge in candles, a glass of wine and the catharsis of bathing away our proverbial sins with fancy soaps. However, the core of this work is situated in the tension between bedazzled objects and strands of hair clinging to tiled walls,” Shaltout adds. “In this regard, I ask my audience to sit with the uncomfortable interplay between the glamorous and the grotesque, inviting a reflective pause in the face of societal contradictions and beneath the veneer of superficial comfort.” —E.Dannenfelser  SPAACES, 2087 Princeton St, Sarasota, 941-374-3492, Ablutions & Affirmations will be on view at SPAACES Contemporary Art Gallery from October 6-28,

Building Art in Common Places 

Creative Liberties’ main mission is not only to provide local artists with a place to create, show and sell their work, but also to create an inspiring artistic community. This heightened sense of community is exactly what the organization plans on achieving during their upcoming exhibit in collaboration with Art in Common Places. Art in Common Places was founded by Teresa Carson and Leslie Butterfield in 2020 based on the belief that art belongs to everybody, which perfectly aligns with Creative Liberties’ mission. The premise of the exhibit is that an artist and a poet work on a collaborative team for six weeks to create a piece of art and corresponding poetry. The exhibit will run from October 5th through 28th and features 36 collaborative works of art. “Every piece has a poem and a work of art where the artist and the poet have collaborated,” Butterfield says. “So sometimes the poem is in the painting, but other times there’s some kind of relationship that they’ve discovered around a theme as they have gotten to know each other’s work.” The beauty of an exhibit like this is that it speaks to people who are passionate about both poetry and visual arts and acts as a new way for guests to learn more about poetry. Both poetry and visual art is largely imagery driven, making the combination a complete immersive experience.  “We love the integration of the art forms; it’s taking the written word, the visual arts and combining them to create really unique pieces,” Barbara Gerdeman, co-owner of Creative Liberties, says. Not only does a collaborative exhibit like this produce beautiful end results, but the dialogue and workshopping it requires can also have a lasting effect on the participating artists. “Almost never do you see a poet who has worked with a painter before, or vice versa,” Butterfield said. “They have these ‘Ah-ha!’ moments, where they learn about how we think differently in the different arts.” Along with the exhibition, Creative Liberties and Art in Common Places will also be collaborating on a Family Art Day, on October 28 from 9am-Noon. This event will be completely free, no RSVP required. Family Art Day will be centered around story bracelet making, during which families can learn how to express themselves through bead patterns and words. —E.Dannenfelser  Creative Liberties, 901B Apricot Ave, Sarasota, 941-799-6634, Art in Common Places at Creative Liberties will run from October 5th through 28th,

Working Conditions

“We all work to some degree or another,” says Christopher Jones, the Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan curator of photography and media art at The Ringling. “While our jobs can be very, very different from one another, working is such an integral part of the human experience and the social issues and politics that surround work are always changing and evolving. Photographers are responding to that and shaping how we think about work by presenting us with their own evidence and experiences.” Jones is speaking on The Ringling’s latest exhibition, Working Conditions, which is on view until March 3, 2024. The exhibition draws from The Ringling’s permanent collection of photography, taking into account how different photographers chronicled labor, in both the United States and across the world from the turn of the 20th century until present day. “It’s not meant to be an exhaustive survey of the subject, but really just a way to pull from our pretty substantial collection here,” says Jones. “We have a really robust collection of photography and I’m always looking for different ways to organize it into temporary exhibitions for our community.” Because the exhibition draws from such an expansive time frame, the styles and perspectives from which these photographers viewed labor vary widely. The exhibition includes everything the work from Lewis Hine, a photographer hired in 1908 by the National Child Labor Committee to document the exploitation of children in the industrial workforce to Margaret Bourke-White, one of the early photojournalists in the 1930s to Dmitri Baltermants, a Russian photographer who chronicled the workforce of the Soviet Union. One of the standouts of Working Conditions is the work of Bill Owens, an American photographer who was interested in the working communities of post World War II suburbia. “We received a number of pieces from different collectors of Bill Owens–that was part of the impetus of putting on the show,” says Jones. “Owens was really fascinated by these burgeoning post-WWII suburban communities that were starting to develop all over Northern California and the kind of lifestyle and culture that was emerging. It was this new form of the American Dream that he was able to chronicle through his photography.”  —D.Campbell  Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, 941- 359-5700,

The Addams Family

Settle into spooky season this October with The Addams Family musical at the Venice Theatre. Born from the New Yorker cartoons drawn by Charles Addams starting in 1938, the Addams family was adapted into the popular 1960s television series and six films. “The show’s iconic theme song is seared into America’s popular culture,” says Benny Sato Ambush, the artistic director of the Venice Theatre. The audience will connect with classic characters like Wednesday and Gomez while enjoying the antics of this eccentric family with a penchant for the macabre. In the musical, Wednesday Addams falls in love with a normal boy, causing the two families from distinct worlds to come together. “It celebrates difference, champions the concept that love is love and illustrates that love is possible across differences,” Ambush adds. He believes that the show will resonate with audiences not only because of its nostalgic appeal but also owing to its themes of acceptance and inclusion. The family values members of various generations and their shared lives; their home even contains a plethora of artifacts honoring their ancestors. “The characters are allowed to live how they want and love who they want, and the show represents the joy of fitting in and being accepted in a fun way,” he says, confident that audiences will adore the eye-catching set and beautiful music, especially during October. “With the show playing around Halloween,” he adds, “folks will have a great time.”  —L.Paquette  Venice Theatre, 140 Tampa Ave. West, Venice, 941-488-1115, The Addams Family runs from October 13 through November 12,

Parade’s Regional Premiere

One of the most incredible aspects of going to the theater is being shown a different perspective through storytelling, a perspective that perhaps has not been shared often throughout history. This season, Manatee Performing Arts Center’s production of the musical Parade, is a must-see for a glimpse into the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man living in Marietta, Georgia in 1913, who is falsely accused of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl. The gripping musical follows the story of Frank’s trial, while conveying themes of racism and discrimination in the Deep South.  “It’s got some very dramatic and heavy moments, but it’s got this beautiful score by Jason Robert Brown, and I think it’s an opportunity. We’re partnering with the Jewish Federation, so they’re helping us with issues like anti-Semitism—really getting the word out and putting a spotlight on their organization,” Producing Artistic Director, Rick Kerby, says. “We have something called ‘action through acting’ that we do here. So, we partner with other not-for-profits, which is a wonderful opportunity to get two organizations to come together on a great project.” The show’s score is by Jason Robert Brown and is one that challenges actors with an old school musical style combined with a “poppy twist”, Kerby adds. The show will be directed by Scott Keys, who recently retired from his role as theatre director at Booker High School. Parade is an excellent example of how theater, and the arts, offers more to a community  than just entertainment; it offers a chance to see a new perspective. “I think it’s also a job in theater, to show the world through a different set of eyes. It teaches us empathy and to be able to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes,” Kerby says. —E.Dannenfelser  Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 3rd Ave W, Bradenton, 941-748-5875, Parade will run from March 7-17,

Hermitage Sunsets

Just because The Hermitage Artist Retreat is starkly different from its neighboring arts organizations around Sarasota, does not mean that the organization is any less important. In fact, the differences between it and everybody else only highlight just how significant The Hermitage really is. A leading national arts incubator, The Hermitage is not a subscription-based performing arts organization–instead, it is a haven for award-winning artists across all genres and the world to flock to, unencumbered by distraction. The Hermitage takes in anywhere from 80 to 90 artists a year, selected from a national curatorial council dedicated to picking the top, emerging artists in their disciplines. Artists in residency at The Hermitage are given one month to break up in any way they like over a two year period–fortunately for Sarasotans, those artists are obligated to offer a free hour-long program to the community. “These are leading artists from all over the country and world, including Pulitzer winners, Grammy and Oscar winners, Tony and Emmy winners and Guegenheim fellows–every one of these artists does a free program for the community,” says Andy Sandberg, artistic director and CEO of The Hermitage. “Each is about an hour long and is often a sneak peak into new works and their creative process. They’ll be sharing perhaps a reading of a play or a piece of music or discussion on their work.” While many of those programs will take place on The Hermitage’s beachfront campus, others will happen off-campus such as The Hermitage Sunsets at Selby Gardens Series, which will occur at the Downtown Sarasota Campus and Historic Spanish Point locations of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Sunsets at Selby kicks off on October 5 with Hermitage Fellow and American Horror Story lead writer Hailey Feiffer with her program, The Blurred Line Between Humor and Heartbreak: A Playwriting Workshop. —D.Campbell The Hermitage Artist Retreat, 6630 Manasota Key Rd. 941-475-2098, Englewood,

IQuest Horizons 

Making learning exciting for kids can be a difficult task, but The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature’s IQuest program might just be the ticket for expanding your middle-schooler’s mindset and horizons. The program happens monthly, usually on the second Saturday of each month, and gives kids ages 11-14 a place to think outside the box while enjoying time with friends. Each month, the program switches, alternating between engineering, experimental and creativity-based lessons. The program is developed in-house through The Bishop’s learning team and Master Educator, Gabrielle Meyer, who has an extensive STEAM and Innovation Education background and also serves as director of learning. Each lesson is delivered by a senior lead learning specialist from The Bishop, along with Meyer. A ratio of two leaders to every twenty students is maintained throughout the lessons and activities. Each lesson is different, making it perfect for both kids who attend every session, as well as those who are new. The engineering component focuses on finding a problem, whether that be a museum issue or a global climate issue, and working to create a plan to solve it. The experimentation lessons show kids how to use scientific equipment like beakers and microscopes to not only find information surrounding an issue, but apply the collected data to research and issues the kids are presented with. Finally, the creativity themed lessons allow students to tap into their artistic side, with art pieces based around science and nature. This educational experience allows students to learn more about STEM related topics, as well as see a new perspective and try their hand at something they may not be as confident in, a tactic that is pivotal for a well-rounded education. “I’ve been an educator for a long time and I think the weaving of different disciplines is key in order to have a much more global perspective, no matter what the topic,” says Meyer. “If you’re able to make those cross-curricular ties then you’re onto something important. Nothing sits in isolation. There shouldn’t be a completely one sided education.”  IQuest is not only affordable, with tickets priced at $15 for members and $20 for non-members, but every session also includes a pizza dinner for students. The program ultimately strives to inspire students to have curious minds and learn how to love learning. “Sometimes, throughout the education process that love of learning gets beaten down a little bit. If we can ignite that spark again, feed the flame and let that fire bubble up, then it’s a  job well done,” Meyer adds.—E.Dannenfelser   Bishop Museum, 201 10th St W, Bradenton, 941-746-4131,