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SRQ DAILY Apr 22, 2023

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"It is a safe space where our campus and local community can explore and dissect, finding engagement with each other through conceptual thinking and creative expression."

- Dr. Larry Thompson, Ringling College of Art & Design

[Under The Hood]  What a Difference a Call Makes
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

What a difference a phone call makes. This week, the decision to devote personal attention to a couple Sarasota congressman may have determined the next U.S. President. 

Okay, so grant me some hyperbole. A presidential election cycle ebbs and flows. But undoubtedly this was a terrible week for Gov. Ron DeSantis and a good one for former President Donald Trump. And that’s in part because Trump, hardly a man known for humility, made it a personal priority to secure the endorsements of U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Greg Steube, along with most Republicans in the Florida congressional delegation.

Steube’s on Monday endorsed Trump over DeSantis, who hasn’t officially launched a campaign for president yet but will do so within weeks. That made him the fifth U.S. representative from Florida to pick sides in the battle of Florida men seeking the GOP nomination in 2024. But it set off an avalanche. By week's end, 11 of the 20 Florida Republicans in the U.S. House publicly backed Trump. Only one, U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee, has sided with DeSantis.

Steube, unlike most of his peers, stated publicly part of the reason he was willing to snub Florida’s Governor. He hinted early that Trump was always personally supportive. Steube later told Politico that as he recently recovered in the hospital after a recent fall at his home, Trump called the ICU to speak about the accident.

But he tells me DeSantis hasn't called him. Not lately. Not ever.

"President Trump himself and close members of his political team speak frequently with me about a range of personal and political issues, and always have," Steube said. "In the five years I have been an elected member of Congress, Gov. DeSantis has never reached out to me to discuss any matter.”

Only recently, Steube heard for the first time from DeSantis’ campaign, but not the Governor himself. Rather, surrogate Ryan Tyson made the rounds calling Florida representatives asking them not to endorse Trump right now.

We see how well that worked.

Buchanan’s support for Trump came mid-week, two days after Steube and a day before Trump hosted 10 endorsing representatives for a dinner in Mar-a-Lago. Incidentally, state Sen. Joe Gruters also attended, becoming the first sitting state lawmaker in Florida to endorse Trump, but he’s been close to Trump for years and his support was a given.

Buchanan, more a product of early 2000s-era corporate Republicanism, was hardly in the bag for the populist.

But Trump and DeSantis handled Buchanan similar to how they treated Steube. Sources say Buchanan got a call from Tyson while spending time with his family. He had to call a staffer to ask who Tyson even was.

Meanwhile, Trump and Buchanan spoke personally on the phone this week.

Buchanan served with DeSantis in the House during the Governor’s entire six-year stint in Washington but the two were never close, despite Buchanan co-chairing the state delegation part of that time. But Buchanan also served as a House liaison to the Trump administration during negotiation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He and the former president found enough to talk about for more than 20 minutes in a conversation this week. But as with Steube, Buchanan and DeSantis haven’t spent 20 seconds together on the phone this month.

What does all this mean?

Granted endorsements don’t always translate to election victories. As much as anything, they show structural and establishment support. But it’s shocking DeSantis, who just won re-election in a statewide landslide, could flounder so badly regarding Republican support in his own state. Trump, technically a Florida resident, will always be identified first as a creature of Manhattan. Yet the South Florida transplant just out-good-ole-boyed a native.

And all it took was a couple meaningful phone calls DeSantis could carve out the time to make. 

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor to SRQ MEDIA. 

Photo courtesy U.S. Rep. Cory Mills: 10 members of Florida's congressional delegation at Mar-a-Lago with Donald Trump.

[Higher Education]  Ethics, Art and Academic Freedom
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

At Ringling College of Art and Design, we believe art and creativity are at the core of the human experience. Creativity takes courage, empathy, honesty, holistic thinking and imagination. It also requires looking at the world from multiple points of view and having many answers to a single question. It’s something I have been saying for many, many years and will continue to stand by: creativity really matters to the world. 

As a leading institution of artists, designers, and creative thinkers and practitioners, we believe in the critical need for diversity, because creativity cannot exist in a one-dimensional universe. And, we believe artists, designers and creatives in general play a significant role in our society. As such, it is part of our institutional mission to provide educational programming and degrees that ultimately prepare students to be, as our mission statement says: “discerning visual thinkers and ethical practitioners.” 

Ethical practitioners — it’s a lofty term — but for a creative professional, this could cover a myriad of topics including, but certainly not limited to, practicing your craft responsibly with a high standard of moral values. Creating original work free from plagiarism; working honestly within budget and time constraints; and being sensitive to and aware of the individuals your work may eventually reach and impact. In order to teach these skills, students must have access to robust, unbiased exposure to different ideas and schools of thought from very diverse individuals. This is what we, in the academic world, call academic freedom. To help strengthen these attributes requires exposure to a diverse range of course listings, exhibitions and experiential opportunities (with friends, colleagues, community members, professionals), and the freedom to explore and enjoy (or not enjoy, your choice!) these important exposures and experiences; to talk about them, try to understand them, and learn from them. 

Also integral to the College’s mission is to help students develop critical, conceptual and creative abilities, by supporting and providing courses that explore historical, multicultural, global and futuristic perspectives. The Liberal Arts, for example, make up a third of Ringling’s degree curricula and offer a vast array of content coverage. Courses explore different cultures, ideas, or concepts that may be considered taboo, as well as psychology, science fiction, classical mythology, environmental issues and so much more. Students enter discussions and are encouraged to question the standing norms on topics ranging from gender and identity studies to visual anthropology to environmental ethics. The best part is that these courses are open to additional students outside of Ringling College, through the Cross College Alliance. Students from colleges and universities in the surrounding area are welcomed and encouraged to add new voices and differing perspectives to the conversation. 

Ringling College is a place for these academic and artistic freedoms. It is a safe space where our campus and local community can explore and dissect, finding engagement with each other through conceptual thinking and creative expression. And, these freedoms extend beyond our main campus classrooms and gallery spaces, to our Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art and Design. Through the Museum’s contemporary exhibitions and educational programs, we hope to open an often historically gatekept space to anyone and everyone; a place where groundbreaking and boundary-pushing art and ideas are accessible to all. 

None of us can predict the future — this much we know. We do know, however, as we have so widely seen of late, that this future will require incredible innovation to help solve the unprecedented problems of the world. Innovative thinking requires creativity. Creativity demands freedom. 

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art & Design. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Shakespeare in the Gardens , April 4 – April 23, Various times

FSU and the Asolo Conservatory are thrilled to bring back the beloved Shakespeare in the Gardens series to The Ringling Museum grounds with the Conservatory production of Love's Labour's Lost. Originally performed at Selby Gardens, this year the production of Love's Labour's Lost will be set in the remarkable Ringling Museum of Art Bayfront Gardens, surrounded by a lush banyan grove, with views of the stunning Sarasota Bay. Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, asolorep.org.

[SOON]  THEATER: Visit Joe Whitefeather and Bring the Family at Florida Studio Theatre , April 12 – May 21, Various times

Florida Studio Theatre is proud to present the world premiere of Visit Joe Whitefeather (and bring the family!) by award-winning playwright Bruce Graham. It’s the 1970s in Beaver Gap, Pennsylvania, a small town with a problem. Tourism has declined and it doesn’t look like there is any hope on the horizon. When a new resident joins forces with the bewildered city council, they devise a plan to rename the town to honor a dead, Native American war hero who had never visited the town before. It’s a plan so wild and insane that it just might work. Tickets range from $25-39 and are now on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or at 941.366.9000. FST’s Gompertz Theatre, 1265 1st St., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Eco Engineers , April 12 – September 3, During museum hours

Eco Engineers are plants and animals that profoundly impact their ecosystem. Through their presence or behavior, eco engineers create microhabitats, or unique areas within an ecosystem. Other species have taken notice of these microhabitats and decided to move in! In this exhibition, explore nine of Florida’s eco engineers and discover why our landscape wouldn’t be the same without them. Eco Engineers is a bilingual (English and Spanish) special exhibition created by our own Museum curators. Included with museum admission. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton, bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Joseph's Coat, Skyspace by James Turrell , April 13 – May 26, Various times

Joseph’s Coat: Skyspace by James Turrell (2011) is a triumph of technology, engineering, and aesthetics. The Skyspace, created by internationally-renowned artist James Turrell, is a gathering place for contemplation and offers a unique experience. At sunset, a sophisticated system of LED lights is employed to change the color of the space. In doing so, the artist changes the context in which we view the sky through the 24-foot aperture in the ceiling, affecting our perception of the natural environment and the surroundings. As we gaze up at the sky we are invited to contemplate light, perception, and experience. Tickets are $10 and are free for members. Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Comedy Roulette , April 13 – May 17, Various times

FST Improv’s free-form show, Comedy Roulette, is an off-the-wall improvisation potpourri where performers are freed from the traditional do’s and don’ts of improv. Instead, improvisers are encouraged to follow the funny and launch into a new scene or storyline whenever inspiration strikes. Comedy Roulette plays Saturdays in FST’s Bowne’s Lab from April 8 to May 17, 2023. Florida Studio Theatre, 1265 1st St., Sarasota, floridastudiotheatre.org.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Big Sexy The Fats Waller Revue , April 19 – May 28, Various times

Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller was an American jazz pianist, composer, singer and comedic entertainer. He realized his dream of becoming a professional musician at age 15. His Harlem stride style influenced the sound of modern jazz piano. Nate Jacobs’ original tribute, “Big Sexy, The Fats Waller Revue,” to this irrepressible artist features Waller’s signature songs, including “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Your Feet’s Too Big,” “The Joint is Jumpin’” and many more. Tickets are $50 for adults, $20 for students and active military (cost includes all ticket fees). WBTT's Donelly Theatre, 1012 North Orange Ave., Sarasota, westcoastblacktheatre.org.

[SOON]  THEATER: All the Sex I've Ever Had , April 20 – April 23, Various times

All the Sex I’ve Ever Had is a stirring, hilarious and moving work that challenges what we think we know about the lives of our elders. A group of six older adults from the Sarasota/Manatee community discuss the evolution of love and sexuality from the perspective of life’s later years. In this unique, socially engaged work, elders courageously open up their personal lives and experiences to fellow performers and strangers, divulging stories of first crushes, turbulent affairs, unexpected pregnancies and deaths of loved ones as they go year-by-year through their entire lives. In our youth-obsessed culture, All the Sex I’ve Ever Had re-establishes a community of wise elders to whom we can turn for advice and offers younger audiences an understanding of intimacy in later years, as well as support to older adults who can learn from, or find common ground in the experiences of their peers. For mature audiences only. Performances will be accompanied by live ASL interpretation on April 20th and April 23rd. Historic Asolo Theatre, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Broadway Bound with Sarasota Orchestra , April 21 – April 22, Various times

Sarasota Orchestra invites you to celebrate Broadway with conductor William Waldrop, and three amazing vocalists, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Eryn LeCroy and Josh Young. Prepare to melt as these three vocalists make the rafters ring with thrilling numbers from Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked to classic songs from Carousel, Gypsy, and 42nd Street. Tickets are $40-90. Van Wezel, 777 North Tamiami Tr., Sarasota, sarasotaorchestra.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Ranch Nite Wednesdays at Waterside Place , February 8 – May 31, 6 to 9 p.m.

Enjoy a night of fun at Waterside Place during Ranch Nite Wednesdays. The event features food trucks, live music, a night market, a vintage mobile bar and cornhole. Visit lakewoodranch.com to learn more. Waterside Place, 1561 Lakefront Drive, Sarasota.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens 2023 Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature , February 12 – June 26, During garden hours

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ 2023 Jean and Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Tiffany: The Pursuit of Beauty in Nature showcases the creativity and innovation of American artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). The first exhibition of its type to be presented in a botanical garden, the exhibition highlights the inspiring connection between Tiffany Studios and the natural world through unique horticultural displays in the Tropical Conservatory and the Gardens, accompanied by seminal examples of Tiffany’s work on view in the Museum of Botany and the Arts. To learn more, visit selby.org. Selby Gardens Downtown Sarasota campus, 1534 Mound St., Sarasota.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Resilience: A Guided Walking Tour Experience by Compass Rose History Experiences , February 25 – April 22, 3:30 p.m.

Compass Rose History Experiences announces the launch of Resilience: A Guided Walking Tour Experience. Guides Mimi Cirbusova and Andrea Knies will navigate attendees on a journey back in time down Main Street as we explore the resilience of the Sarasota community during the Great Depression and World War II. Locals and visitors alike will find inspiration from the stories of the people and places of Sarasota's past. Tours meet at Five Points Park in Downtown Sarasota and cover a distance of less than one mile over the 75-90 minute tour. All tours begin at 3:30 pm. Tickets cost $20.00 and must be purchased in advance. Guests purchasing both tours can receive a $10 discount by selecting the ticket package. Visit CompassRoseHistory.com to purchase your tickets or to learn more about Compass Rose History Experiences.

[SOON]  FOOD: 2023 Forks and Corks Food and Wine Festival , April 20 – April 24, Various times

The 2023 Forks and Corks Food and Wine Festival will return for its 16th year. The Festival is scheduled for April 20-24, 2023 and offers a world-class weekend of winemaker dinners, interactive wine seminars and wine tastings that culminates with the alfresco Grand Tasting event at The Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard. Guests will savor delicious dishes presented by over 40 members of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals restaurant group and sample from a collection of more than 300 unique wines from across the globe. There will be live musical entertainment and an expansive silent auction of rare and collectible wines and experiences. Due to the unprecedented demand this year, there are three available ticket levels: VIP, early access and general admission. For more information on Forks and Corks and to purchase tickets, visit EatLikeALocal.com. Follow Forks and Corks on Facebook and Instagram.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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