Art from the Heart

Guest Correspondence

BY TOM BARWIN SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY FEB 8, 2020

With our fair share of sunshine, year-round tropical flowers, and big-sky technicolor sunsets often appearing over our abundant waters, we surely live in a colorful place. This may be the primary reason Sarasota and the Gulf Coast has been such a magnet for artists and performers over the past 100 years, and perhaps why the region has attracted such a high percentage of residents and visitors who also enjoy the arts.  

One such inspired resident, who truly loves art, is Marietta Lee, founder of the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy. The Museum of Art and Whimsy is located at 2121 North Tamiami Trail at 22nd Street, just a few blocks north of downtown Sarasota.  

A registered nurse and 1991 graduate of Ringling College of Art & Design, Marietta moved back to Sarasota from Connecticut in 2008.   Her creation is the most unique, offbeat, indoor-outdoor art museum on the Gulf Coast. Marietta's heavily landscaped art sanctuary rests behind a collection of tall, brightly colored Flamingos that passing motorists can't help but notice and wonder about. 

Marietta loves to display art that makes her smile.  Her campus is chock full of fanciful, fantastic objects, devices and artful creations that are a treat to the senses. Many of the whimsical displays can also be found in the museum's expansive back yard placed cleverly amongst the bamboo, palm and grand oak canopy trees in her mini tropical forest.     

A visit to Marietta's Museum of Art & Whimsy leaves me with the same feeling I have after watching a good sunset, it helps put everything else into a better perspective. The Marietta provides a lighthearted, and much needed antidote to the intense, instant news, drama and discord filled world we seem to be living in these days. It may be the love Marietta has put into this masterpiece, the beauty of the objects in the museum or the truth the artwork reveals, but whatever it is, it's truly a fun, refreshing way to spend an hour or two. Even better, it's free if you can't afford the suggested $5 minimum donation, which is used to keep the place going and the art collection growing.  But please note, the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy is only open during the season, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. If you can get there, I'm guessing you'll enjoy this not-so-hidden gem! And for those of you who enjoy fun art and whimsy, it's your lucky weekend because several of the artists who are featured at Marietta's Museum of Art and Whimsy will be participating in this weekend’s big art show on Main Street in downtown Sarasota this Saturday and Sunday.   

Thanks, Marietta Lee for bringing your fantastic museum to Sarasota and to all the volunteers who make it such a delight to visit!

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. Email him at Thomas.Barwin@sarasotafl.gov.  

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