Art Ovation Hotel Declares Local Pride with "Legacy"



Quietly receiving guests since last Monday, the Art Ovation Hotel announced itself loud and proud last night, inviting hundreds from the local arts community out to celebrate the opening of the hotel’s first exhibition—Legacy. Featuring the work of 12 faculty and alumni from the Ringling College of Art and Design, Legacy stands as the first in a planned series of exhibitions, rotating every four months, and, according to hotel officials, a hallmark of the kind of local-focused, art-centric cultural hub Art Ovation Hotel aims to be. Says Larry Abbo, CEO of Prime Hospitality Group, “We’re just here to show the world what Sarasota is all about.”

With 12 artists to show, the hotel itself transforms into a towering gallery. In the lobby, beginning from one end, find a nook dedicated to the work of Joe Fig, Ringling College’s recently hired head of the fine arts department, whose digital prints capture artists in their natural habitats—their studios—and mixed-media sculptures recreate their workspaces. Turning the corner, a massive wall the length of the lobby showcases the large-scale paintings of Tom Stephens—abstract and full of marks, sometimes almost verging on science fiction—and those of Douglas Higgins, full of muted, earthen tones and indecipherable symbols, like bizarro playing cards or atom bombs.

In the middle of the space, a sculpture from George Snyder looking like disco bamboo, and another from Vicky Randall. By the elevators, photographs by Sally Pettibon and prints by Thomas Carabasi, and around the corner work from Nathan Skiles.

In all, that’s at least eight artists on display before one leaves the lobby. Exploring the rest of the hotel, from the rooftop on down, stopping for a glance on every floor, guests will find art from the likes of Steven Strenk, Cynthia Mason, Jason Aponte, Jill Taffet and Jeff Schwartz, associate vice president of academic affairs and dean of graduate studies at the college. “I can’t tell you how excited we are,” says Schwartz of the opening. “It’s been a great journey.” And with two Ringling alum already hired by the hotel, and sketchbooks in every room with sketches from Ringling students and faculty, he looks forward to a growing and rewarding relationship moving forward.

Angus Rogers, founder and president of Floridays Development Company and one of the prime movers behind Art Ovation Hotel, agrees. “This is just the beginning,” he says.

Pictured: Artist Joe Fig discusses his work with guests in a quiet nook at the Art Ovation Hotel opening of "Legacy." Photo by Phil Lederer.

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