From the Street to the Screen, It's a Feast for the Eyes Tonight

Visual Arts

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY APR 5, 2019

Tickets may be sold out for the TGIF 2019 Best Of SRQ Local Party tonight at Aloft Sarasota, with folks coming out to celebrate those local businesses SRQ readers voted Best Of and the community that supports them, but that doesn’t mean Sarasotans are hard up for a reason to hit the town tonight, as this weekend represent something of a perfect storm for the arts-oriented crowd calling these streets home. From the film festival to the chalk festival and all the galleries in between, it's a feast for the eyes.

The streets themselves come alive tomorrow, with the kickoff of the Sarasota Chalk Festival, returning to the Burns Court area for the first time since Kowal and Co. packed up for Venice in 2014. Beginning in the wee hours of the morning, artists from around the globe will convene on the Sarasota blacktop for a stunning display that will have all attendees looking at those familiar sidewalk scrawlers in a new light. Running through the weekend, attendees are invited to stay out late on Saturday for “Illumination Evening,” seeing festival volunteers line the streets with lights for an atmospheric evening of fine art and good company. Keep an eye out for the work of world-renowned pavement artist Kurt Wenner, a celebrated innovator who will be debuting a brand new installation that takes the medium to the next level.

For those looking forward to a stroll down Palm Avenue for First Friday, all the regular stops have new work on display for gallery-goers. Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art celebrates the work of Craig Rubadoux with A Rubadoux World, curated by Mark Ormond and featuring paintings, drawings and mixed-media. An opening reception will be held tonight from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Right down the road, Dabbert Gallery presents Abstraction Without Boundaries, featuring the abstract imaginings of six artists, including Kasia Bruniany, Barbara Krupp, Brian Smith and Gustavo Paris. The opening reception begins tonight at 6pm, complete with the famous Dabbert Gallery tropical punch. Meanwhile, under the red awning on Main Street, Art Uptown Gallery highlights the abstract painting of Dion Kurczek with a solo exhibition entitled Fluid Vision (opening reception at 6pm), and, at the center of it all, Palm Avenue Fine Art unveils its latest show, Light Chasers.

And if that weren’t enough for an evening of hard choices, tonight also marks the opening of the Sarasota Film Festival, with the opening night film, Mike Wallace is Here, screening at 7:30pm at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium. A documentary focusing on the career and impact of iconic broadcast journalist Mike Wallace, its award-winning director, Avi Belkin, will be in attendance. The opening night party follows at The Sarasota Modern, running until midnight at least.

As the films begin in earnest over the weekend, SFF Programming Manager Harrison Bender gives a hearty recommendation for both A Bread Factory, the 270-minute film about a pair of aging artists whose community space is threatened by the arrival of a competing and cosmopolitan gallery, and Pahokee, the Sundance darling documentary about a quartet of high schoolers coming of age in their corner of southeast Florida, and the economic challenges ahead. But whatever the personal preference, he feels confident that the community will show its support and find films they love.

“Sarasota has always been a great purveyor of the arts,” Bender says. “And what inspires me most is that, as a regional festival, we get to contextualize conversations through art and film for a local audience that is, quite frankly, always willing to show up. Everyone shows up.”

Pictured: Still from "Mike Wallace is Here," opening film for the 2019 Sarasota Film Festival.

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