It Might Get Loud



As season kicks in, the Ringling Museum readies itself for some of its rowdiest events of the year—the Ringling Underground Series. Introduced five years ago as a means to lure the college-age demographic through the museum doors, the annual series has grown into a full-blown “mini-festival,” according to Public Functions Coordinator Alyssa Esteban, complete with live music, art installations, art-themed activities and hundreds of young adults cramming the museum courtyard. The party begins next Thursday, Sept. 7, with the first Ringling Underground of the season, but it wouldn’t be possible alone, and Ringling Museum works with several area institutions to make it happen.

No Underground is complete without live music, and Esteban works with her local “music expert,” Shannon Fortner, local musician and founder of the Harvey Milk Festival, in finding the ideal musical guests. “She’s very in touch with the local music scene here in Sarasota, and nationally as well,” says Esteban. Next Thursday sees three acts from across the state descending on the Ringling courtyard. Firstworld, the lo-fi, one-man-show from Kris Alvarez, comes from Miami, pairing well with F33DBACK, a Tampa-based electronic musician and composer with his own style of laidback ambient house music. Rounding out the group is local roots band Brother Brother, a pair of actual brothers (Bradley and Brett Anderson) known for their original harmonies, as well as the banjos and mandolin they bring to the table.

This collaborative spirit continues in the selection of visual artists, as Esteban works with an artist liaison from Art Center Sarasota, Danielle Dygert, whose “great reach” allows the museum to bring in artists whose work resonates within the space and with the audience. For the first Underground of the season, local artists Samantha Burn and Erin McCullough will be on display in an exhibition entitled Embers and Objects, seeing both artists assess the role of the object—both found and possessed—in life and its meaning. And through New College of Florida, the museum will bring a presentation from Dear World, a portrait project that asks its subjects to use their own body as a canvas. Using photographs gathered at this year’s New College orientation, a slideshow will be shown on the courtyard walls.

In addition to all this, the James Turrell Skyspace will be open, as well as the Eternal Offerings exhibit of Chinese ritual bronzes in the Searing Wing, giving all revelers a chance to see more of what the museum has to offer in the daylight hours and maybe entice a few to become regular patrons. And it’s worked. In the last five years, attendance of Underground events has rocketed from 300 to more than 800, which translates to museum attendance. “This event is to help cultivate our future members,” says Esteban, noting that while the area has no shortage of events to attend, few are aimed at this particular demographic. “And this is for them,” she says.

Photo courtesy of Ringling Museum.

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