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SRQ DAILY Aug 4, 2023

Friday Weekend Edition

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Friday Weekend Edition

"It is about maintaining the energy of the page through every layer of detail,"

- Austin McKinley, Artist.

[Arts & Entertainment]  Austin McKinley Makes Solo Comic Debut With RIOT Force
Philip Lederer, Phil.Lederer@srqme.com

He’s made movies; he’s written novels. He’s an animator and an artist and a cartoonist. But with the upcoming publication of RIOT Force: Tools of the Rich, Sarasota-based multihyphenate Austin McKinley finally makes his solo debut in the comic book world with a bombastic tale of futuristic sci-fi supercops sporting square jaws, stylin’ hair and improbable sunglasses chasing down an eco-terrorist who may or may not have a nuclear weapon. It’s the crazy cartoon lovechild of Magnum P.I. and Transformers and G.I. Joe and Judge Dredd and McKinley’s been writing and drawing and inking and coloring it full-time since 2021—though it sometimes feels like a lot longer than that.

“I’ve been working on this since I was 9 years old,” McKinley says, and he’s only half-joking, if that. A lifelong storyteller, the characters of RIOT Force and the world they inhabit have existed in McKinley’s mind, in some cel-shaded form or another, since he was first old enough for his young impressionable brain to be warped by the Saturday morning cartoons beamed into it on a semi-regular basis. By middle school, he was publishing a 6-issue comic series based on the characters, printing at the local copy shop and selling to friends and family. Come high school, the project had transformed into an epic series of graphic novels that never quite came to be but provided the story foundation for a series of prose novels McKinley wrote instead, titled The Hellbank Notes series. “Same characters, same ideas,” he says, with each iteration distilling these ideas and characters further and further to their core, to that seed stuck in the teeth of McKinley’s creative maw that he just can’t stop picking at until the thing is unfixed and free and held to the light to see exactly what it is.

In the case of RIOT Force, it’s an action-packed, color-soaked, in-your-face, over-the-top, dry-and-wry, throwback, shoot-‘em-up comic adventure that rides that neon double-yellow line between camp and cheese like a jet-powered motorcycle with machine guns on the front and flames shooting out the back.

Each crazy page is hand-drawn by McKinley in an iterative process that begins with a Post-It-note-sized sketch of the entire page, capturing the panel layout and the general forms, before gradually scaling up in size and detail, refining the sketch each time. It’s a technique he devised to ensure that each page works not only as an individual piece of the story but as a single work of art in itself and with its own energy. “It’s about maintaining the energy of the page through every layer of detail,” McKinley says. “Whether it’s two panels or nine panels, it’s still one impression.”

But while the characters and their world bend towards bonkers at first impression, RIOT Force is not complete farce, says McKinley, and larger themes of loyalty, legacy and loss are woven into the narrative, as is a healthy dose of satire and subversion. First and foremost and forever in McKinley’s mind, however, is entertaining the audience. “And to not at any point be anything less than exciting, operatic and ridiculous,” he says.

Published by Source Point Press, the first run of RIOT Force will be a three-issue arc covering roughly the first third of the overall story McKinley has in mind, which will total 10 issues. Preorders for the debut issue are available now at local comic book shops and first shipments are expected November 29.

In the meantime, click the link below to view the full-length Prologue Issue of RIOT Force. 

To learn more, visit

[Arts & Entertainment]  A Comedy of Tenors at Florida Studio Theatre
Dylan Campbell, dylan@srqme.com

“Everybody says that Ken Ludwig is the best comic playwright of our era and I would absolutely have to second that,” says Richard Hopkins, Producing Artistic Director and CEO of Florida Studio Theatre. “I don’t know of anyone who is writing comedy today that’s better than he is.”

That might sound like high praise, but for Tony Award winning playwright Ken Ludwig, it’s well warranted. Ludwig’s work, which includes over 20 plays that have been performed in more than 30 countries in a multitude of languages, has come to Sarasota in the form of A Comedy of Tenors. The play, which premiered Wednesday, August 2 at Florida Studio Theatre, is set in 1930s Paris and follows the shenanigans of celebrity opera singers, their families and a producer who’s just trying to get the show off without a hitch.

“Some would call the play a farce, but Ludwig calls it more of a muscular comedy, which I think is so much more accurate the more that I’ve seen the show in rehearsal,” says Hopkins. “While the play absolutely includes farcical elements, it’s also heartfelt and touching. It’s built upon seeing these bright, wonderful characters that are all at the top of their profession go through the same problems that we do, whether it’s marital or intrafamilial–it’s a real uppercrust comedy filled with foibles, wonderful song and opera in the background.”

A Comedy of Tenors is the final play of Florida Studio Theatre’s Summer Mainstage Season, which will be followed in August by the organizations 2023 Summer New Play Festival. “I spend so much time reading and selecting plays that it really comes down to putting together three shows that are hopefully more than the sum of their parts,” says Hopkins. “So far we’ve had just a great summer with a huge hit in Shear Madness, another fantastic contrasting hit in Black Pearl Sings! which was both humorous and dark and meaningful and then this wonderful, adroit, muscular comedy to finish the season. It just puts a capstone on the summer season.”

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 North Palm Avenue, Sarasota. 

Pictured: Cast members (l-r) Jennifer Cody (Maria), Aaron Munoz (Tito/Beppo) and Lucy Lavely (Racon). Photo courtesy of FST.

To learn more, visit

[Arts & Entertainment]  The Players Launches The Stage at Payne Park

The Players, Sarasota’s community theatre dedicated to delivering quality productions, educational programs and keeping the community engaged with the performing arts, has formed The Stage at Payne Park LLC (The Stage), a wholly-owned subsidiary nonprofit organization of The Players, Inc. The new organization intends to remodel the existing Payne Park auditorium for its new home at a project cost of $8 million. The Players will match dollar for dollar all community donations up to $4 million, reducing the future capital campaign fundraising amount to $4 million. Brian McCarthy, board member for The Players and CEO of The Pickleball Club LLC, is the chief executive officer of The Stage; David Sanders, board member for The Players and financial advisor, is the chief financial officer of The Stage; Steven Butler, artistic director for The Players, is chair of the community consortium committee for The Stage; and Nancy Jenkins is the project manager for new construction. The Stage is also pleased to announce the following advisory board members: Bill Porter, chair of The Players Board of Trustees and William Skaggs, The Players CEO. The organization is currently finalizing the project team with the selection of an architect, engineer, general contractor and business development leader for key positions in the project. “We’ve assembled a great group to advise on design, acoustics, programming, sound and lighting to make sure we develop a facility appropriate for our performing arts community,” said Brian McCarthy. “We envision The Stage at Payne Park being a performing arts incubator and a place to host performances by The Players and other performing arts organizations wishing to share the venue and services to increase operating efficiencies and lower their overhead costs.” Some of the first goals for The Stage are to gather a consortium of performing arts organizations to hold focus groups for feedback on design and requirements for their unique organizations. “We want The Stage to be configured to accommodate as many of our Sarasota performing arts organizations as possible,” said McCarthy. The city of Sarasota has approved the terms for The Stage through The Players lease agreement for the future home of the arts organization. The Stage at Payne Park will be located at 2100 E. Laurel Street in Sarasota. The Stage will kick off its capital campaign in September 2023, with a goal of funding the $4 million design and construction project cost, matched by an additional $4 million that The Players has committed to. The project is expected to be complete for the 2025-2026 season in September 2025. 

[Arts & Entertainment]  Art Uptown Gallery Exhibits The Magic Beyond by Evelyn McCorristin-Peters and Melanie Carlstein this November 2023

From October 28 through November 24, be prepared for an explosion of color in 2D & 3D at Art Uptown Gallery! With “The Magic Beyond,” both Evelyn McCorristin-Peters and Melanie Carlstein will bring you into their wild imaginations with a combination of art that is unique, contemporary and whimsical. Evelyn draws her inspiration from her travels and circus background as she creates her dramatic oil paintings. Melanie sculpts her quirky characters using paper clay and mixed media, incorporating found and up-cycled objects.Join the artists for an evening of fun at their public First Friday reception on November 3 from 6–9pm at 1367 Main Street, Sarasota. There, the diverse work of regional award-winning artists have been exhibited for 43 years. Telephone 941-955-5409 or visit www.artuptown.com for hours and further information. 

[Arts & Entertainment]  Discover Sarasota Tours Announces Halloween and Christmas Tour Schedule

Discover Sarasota Tours offers 16 different tours running daily in our air-conditioned trolley or van. Holiday Tours for Halloween (The BooMobile and Haunted Sarasota) and Christmas (Christmas Carol Trolley: Letters To Santa) run nightly in October and December and sell out in advance. Daytime sightseeing tour themes include Art, History, Amish, City, Circus, and Architecture themes, and nighttime musical shows on wheels include Murder Mystery Trolley: Who Killed The Circus Queen, and Sunset Cabaret, a music and craft beer tour. The BooMobile is a 45-minute musical adventure on the trolley for kids ages 3+. Children and their parents will join WitchyPOO on her search for the missing Pumpkin all around downtown Sarasota’s historic landmarks. The charming, funny, and delightful musical show is returning for 13 shows October 13-30 from 6:30-7:15 PM. $24.99 for kids 3+ and $39.99 for adults. Includes free soft drinks for kids and beer/wine for the adults before boarding. Show dates: October 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. Haunted Sarasota - hear stories about famous murders, visit spirited buildings, and explore unsolved crimes during this 90-minute, air-conditioned nighttime tour with ghost hostess Lady Melody and surprise guests along the way! Prizes for best costumes during October, so come dressed to kill...Fridays year-round, 17 special Halloween shows October 13-31 8:00-9:30 PM. $52.99 for adults. Includes free beer/wine before boarding. Show dates: October 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25,26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31. Christmas Carol Trolley: Letters to Santa Chrismas Carol Trolley: Letters to Santa is a fun-filled 90-minute holiday tour for the whole family with a Christmas carol sing-along, holiday stories, jokes and trivia, and a charming tour of Sarasota’s downtown neighborhood lights. This heartwarming musical show is returning for 42 shows December 5-30 at 5:30 and 7:30PM. $29.99 for kids 3+ and $49.99 for adults. Includes free soft drinks for kids and beer/wine for the adults before boarding. Show dates: December 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18,19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29. 

Pictured: The BooMobile's WitchyPOO and her Pumpkin with a delighted guest.

[Arts & Entertainment]  FST Extends DIVAS THREE, A Celebration of the Great Female Vocalists from the 60s Through the 90s

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is extending the run of Divas Three, a dynamic music revue celebrating four decades of hits by some of music’s most influential women. Called “Stunning” by Venice Gondolier-Sun and “Thrilling” by Total Theater, Divas Three features more than two dozen songs made famous by such musical icons as Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Carole King, and more. Created by Nancy Allen Productions, Divas Three will now run in FST’s Court Cabaret through September 17, 2023. Tickets are now on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or 941.366.9000. Audiences are calling FST’s presentation of Divas Three “Fabulous,” “Outstanding,” “Fantastic,” and “Very entertaining.” Audience member Pat P. called Divas Three “A 10 out of 10.” She added, “The show was just amazing from the beginning to the end. Not a lot of talking, just perfect voices and the choice of songs could not have been better. We did not want the show to end.” 

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sarasota Cars and Coffee at University Town Center , March 11 – December 9, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

This monthly gathering of car enthusiasts brings together automobile lovers from every walk of life, not to mention a wide array of spectacular cars. Bring your own vehicle (all makes and models are welcome) to show off, or check out the hundreds of cars on display. Each month, the event sponsors a different charity, and attendees are encouraged to donate $10 to benefit the charity. The event, occuring on the second Sunday of each month, will feature live music, complimentary coffee and more. To learn more, visit facebook.com/carsandcoffee941. Sarasota Cars and Coffee, The West District at University Town Center near Ford’s Garage, 295 N. Cattlemen Rd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Reclaiming Home, Contemporary Seminole Art at Ringling Museum , March 29 – September 4, Museum hours

Reclaiming Home, Contemporary Seminole Art group exhibition will mark The Ringling’s first presentation of contemporary art by Native American artists with ancestral, historical, and present-day connections to Florida. An imperative step toward establishing a meaningful relationship with the Native American artistic community, Reclaiming Home will highlight the breadth and depth of the artwork by Seminole, Miccosukee, and mixed-heritage artists from Florida with the important work by internationally-recognized artists. The exhibition will expand the conceptual framework of Native American art made in Florida today and provide a fuller understanding of the complexities of issues within the art of the Seminole diaspora. Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[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]  BUSINESS: Resources for Veterans Starting a Business , August 30, 12 to 1 pm

Learn what resources are available for veterans interested in starting their own businesses. We will review some of the national programs available including the SBA Boots to Business program as well as other free and low cost resources available for both the government, non profit and private sector. This webinar is free. Visit www.score.org/manasota to register.

[SOON]  GALA: Toast Local , August 19, 1-5 pm

On Saturday, August 19th from 1-5pm, at Robarts Arena in Sarasota join us for Toast Local, and raise a glass to local charities. Benefiting The Rotary Club of Sarasota Foundation, enjoy a craft cocktail and beer tasting with delicious bites, plus special musical guest Kettle of Fish. The fun begins with a free family-friendly car show from 9am to 1pm. The Rotary Club of Sarasota is a network of active and retired business, professional, and community leaders dedicated to helping make Sarasota and the world a better place. Each year, the club receives requests from a number of local not-for-profit agencies seeking support. Toast Local will bring the local community together for an afternoon this summer to taste local beers, cocktails, and food. All proceeds will then be donated back to the local community. Information and tickets at rotaryclubofsarasota.com/toast-local, 21 and older.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: BUSINESS Key Financial Concepts for the Entrepreneur, A 3 Part Webinar Series 1, Cash Issues for New Businesses , August 9, 12 to 1 pm

All businesses require cash for their operations including Equipment, Location, Materials, Supplies, and Staffing. In this webinar we will cover how to fund the business until you are generating sufficient cash to sustainably fund as well as other payment decisions that can affect your operating cash position. We will also delve into sources of funding. This webinar is free. Visit www.score.org/manasota to register.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place , July 28 – May 31, 6 to 9 p.m.

Head out to Waterside Place for a rocking evening as part of the Lakewood Ranch Sights and Sounds Program. Enjoy a live concert in partnership with Easterseals and EveryoneRocks, featuring artists who are rocking their spectrum. This event is free and open to the public; there is limited seating at the Plaza, but attendees are welcome to bring their own seats. Food and beverages will be available from numerous Waterside Place merchants. For more information on shows, dates, and times, visit lakewoodranch.com/sights-sounds/. Waterside Place, 1560 Lakefront Dr., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Friday Fest at The Van Wezel , July 11 – September 22, 5-9pm

Friday Fest, the free, outdoor summertime concert series at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall continues with TEN-76 on August 11. TEN-76 is a powerhouse high energy band that covers classic and modern rock. From the Lakewood Ranch homebase, TEN-76 regularly plays many of the local venues and are expanding in the Southeast Region. They have volunteered their time and entertainment for many charities to help raise funds and awareness.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Wellen Park Summer Music Series , July 19 – September 30, Various times

Wellen Park invites the community to come out and enjoy music from local bands and artists during the Summer Music Series every Wednesday through Sunday in Downtown Wellen. Now through September, Wellen Park is hosting different musicians throughout the week. Every week, Wind Down Wednesdays, Thursday Tunes and Saturday Sounds will feature music under the Heritage Tree from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday Night Live, the first Friday of the month, will feature a band on the Solis Hall stage overlooking the Great Lawn from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday Groove, the second, third and fourth Friday of the month, will feature music under the Heritage Tree from 5 to 9 p.m. On Unplugged Sunday, every Sunday, there will be music under the Heritage Tree from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. The series is open to the public. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for seating on the Great Lawn and around the Heritage Tree. For more information, visit wellenpark.com/events/summer-music-series.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: From the Chambers Honoring John Sims at Ringling Museum , May 6 – August 6, Museum hours

In December 2022, the innovative artist, activist, writer, and filmmaker John Sims passed away suddenly at his studio in Sarasota. The tragic loss of Sims left a deep impact on the art world. His art, informed by mathematics, design, sacred symbols, and poetic text, boldly confronted white supremacy, the Confederate flag, and the deep disparities and division within our society. The Ringling is honored to have had the opportunity to work closely with Sims, who was their artist in residence in 2020. The exhibition From the Chambers, Honoring John Sims brings those two works together, on view publicly for the first time, in conjunction with John Chamberlain’s sculpture Added Pleasure. The exhibition serves as just one part of the significant legacy the artist leaves behind, in Sarasota and beyond. On view May 6 through August 6, 2023 in the Searing East galleries. Ringling Musuem, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Lorna Bieber, Natural World at The Ringling , May 20 – October 15, Museum hours

The Ringling presents a solo exhibition of works by Lorna Bieber in May that includes two new pieces making their debut in the Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art. Her artwork first and foremost encourages us to indulge in the pleasures of looking and discovering anew the details of the visual world. Her artistic practice is grounded in appropriating, recycling, and manipulating imagery. The work reminds us of the image world that inundates our daily existence. Our experience of reality is mediated through a barrage of photographic digital images that supplants our connection to the natural world. Yet, Bieber is less interested in a critique of this condition than she is in offering her work as an antidote, a way to inspire viewers and reconnect with our shared sense of wonder. Included with museum admission. The Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Laser Light Nights at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature , May 25 – September 2, 7pm and 9pm

Break out the big hair and acid-washed denim because Laser Light Nights are back at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night from May 25 through September 2, we are rocking out to some of your favorite artists in the Planetarium! A variety of food options and drinks are available for purchase onsite with cash or card. Tickets are $15. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St W., Bradenton, bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Identity, Exploring the Human Condition , June 1 – August 5, Gallery hours

The 2023 exhibition season continues with Identity, Exploring the Human Condition, which highlights the diverse talents of artists from across the southeast region of the United States and will be on display in all four gallery spaces. On view from June 1-August 5, the opening reception is Thursday, June 1, 6-8 p.m. The juror is Christy Paris, an art professor and PhD candidate in the College of Education at the University of South Florida. A Juror’s Critique, with Paris, will take place on Tuesday, June 6. Art Center Sarasota is located at 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. For information, visit www.artsarasota.org or call 941-365-2032.

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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