Music is Fun and Good for Your Brain, Too


The Sarasota Orchestra recently launched its new season with a concert at the opera house. I personally can't wait to enjoy their concerts over the next few months. I'm happy when I listen to music, and you probably love it, too, whether you're a fan of the classics or the Top 40.

Music is also good for our brains, scientists at the University of Central Florida (UCF) have learned. Those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and lose their memory of almost everything else can remember the lyrics and melodies of songs.

Tony Bennett is one of the most popular singers to ever grace a stage. But at 95 he's suffering from Alzheimer's. Although he's losing his memory, he can still belt out songs without needing to read the sheet music.

His recent concert with Lady Gaga was a sell-out at Radio City Music Hall. He sang for hours from memory. How was that possible?

Muscle Memory

Dancers are famous for remembering steps to a piece with "muscle memory." That means their muscles remember the steps – or rather their brains store the steps away in the recesses of their brains.

Now we know that singers like Tony Bennett and instrumentalists have musical muscle memory, which doesn't wither and die like other parts of the brain that control memory. If you're interested in the science behind this, click on How the Brain Responds to Music.

Listening to music is not only enjoyable but has many health benefits, according to UCF researchers. "If you play someone's favorite music, different parts of the brain light up," neuroscientist Kiminobu Sugaya explains. "That means memories associated with music are emotional memories, which never fade out — even in Alzheimer's patients." He teaches a course "Music and the Brain" with renowned violinist Ayako Yonetan.

Music Heals

While you're enjoying your favorite piano concerto or listening to the latest pop sensation, you're also causing your brain to:

  • Change your ability to perceive time
  • Tap into primal fear
  • Reduce seizures
  • Make you a better communicator
  • Make you stronger
  • Boost your immune system
  • Assist in repairing brain damage
  • Make you smarter
  • Evoke memories
  • Help Parkinson's patients

Tony Bennett on "60 Minutes"

Tony Bennett's remarkable ability to remember his American songbook in front of 6,000 fans in a concert at Radio City Music Hall was documented in a recent CBS episode of "60 Minutes." Yet afterwards he had no memory of singing at the concert. Here is the segment if you haven't already seen it. 

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Race and Art Matters

That's the title of the collection of stunning artworks by Robert Colescott now on display at the Sarasota Art Museum. The African-American painter and sculptor gained fame with his pioneering paintings that transformed well-known masterpieces by changing the white faces into black characters.

As the museum's introduction notes, "this provocative strategy challenging the long-standing taboos about racial stereotypes…to interject black objects into art history."

Colescott's debut came in the 1970s with a show at the Spectrum and Razor Galleries in New York. He reconfigured figures in the compositions of prominent artists in history including Vincent Van Gogh, Eugène Delacroix, Emanuel Leutze and Pablo Picasso as Black people. He also blended the images of white and black figures in his exploration of race and identity. His style morphed into a cartoonish style inspired by the comic strips that he enjoyed as child.

A recent trip to the museum confirmed that the renderings were meant to shock and they still do.

A sampling of his prolific output fills the entire second floor of the museum. There is still time to visit before the exhibit closes on October 31st.

Here is a small sample of the museum's display of his paintings. 

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Why Arts Advocates?

I was lucky to meet Donna Maytham when she invited me to join a group she hosts for discussions about ballet, one of my passions. Through her I learned about Arts Advocates when she invited me to attend "Speaking of the Arts" presentations by Tony Award®-winning writer and lyricist Lynn Ahrens and Baltimore Symphony Music Director Marin Alsop. Donna is currently our Past President and Gallery Director.

What We Do

I was impressed by the speakers and the organization's purpose, which gave me reasons to join – so I did. I'm the President now and honored to have been asked to take on this important role. It's clear to me why I joined and why Arts Advocates is so deserving of my support.

What makes us unique is our collection of paintings and sculptures, our role as a leading organization in Sarasota supporting all the arts, and our respected scholarship awards program for students who plan careers in the arts.

Our Place in History 

Jeannette Paladino, Donna Maytham, and Barbara Hyde, VP, at Arts Advocates Gallery opening reception. ©2021Maria Lyle

Arts Advocates owns perhaps the most extensive collection of Sarasota Colony artist paintings and sculptures anywhere. They've been on exhibit at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall for many years. But with the pandemic's suspending performances there, it became apparent to the Board of Directors that we needed a space of our own for our renowned collection. The Arts Advocates Gallery at the Crossings at Siesta Key, with key pieces from our collection on exhibit, opened in July to great acclaim and media coverage. 

Arts Advocates Gallery at the Crossings at Siesta Key. ©2021 Maria Lyle

We are the essential organization collecting and preserving these works of arts by the Sarasota Colony artists. They are embedded in Sarasota's heritage and deserve our loving care.

Founded in 1969 as the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Inc. and now known as Arts Advocates, the organization over the years has added to our collection of paintings and sculptures by artists who migrated to Sarasota from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Represented in our collection are well-known artists including Syd Solomon, Ben Stahl, Jon Corbino, Mary Sarg Murphy, Helen Sawyer, and Jerry Farnsworth. Their works are also exhibited in leading museums in the US and around the world.

Mary Sarg Murphy – “Center Ring” ©2021 Maria Lyle
Jon Corbino – “Palette” ©Maria Lyle

They were inspired by Florida's natural beauty and the circus, which provided an abundance of subjects. Many began their own schools of art, helped found Ringling College, and made Sarasota an epicenter for the arts.

As Bill Hartman, owner of the William Hartman Gallery and son of William Hartman, a founding member of the Sarasota Colony, recently told me, the fine arts were the foundation on which our rich cultural community was formed. Throughout the 40s, 50s, and 60s there were dozens of art schools and galleries showcasing Florida artists. The foundation for the performing arts in Sarasota was laid by the Colony artists.

Our Programs

Our art collection and scholarship programs help to define our purpose, but we are so much more than that. Even during the pandemic, we have continued monthly programs on zoom with prominent speakers from the arts world, held an in-person gathering at a Meet & Mingle event, and launched our first ever gallery. Next month we will gather in person for a luncheon program at the Bird Key Yacht Club.

In September, we started a new program to spotlight the professional artists who are members. Each month the works of an artist member will be exhibited in our Gallery and the artist will hold a painting demonstration on a Saturday from 2-5 when the Gallery is open to the public

I couldn't be prouder or happier to be part of this wonderful organization. I hope you feel that way, too. Our members are the backbone of Arts Advocates. You make it possible for us to do all that we do and I thank you for your unwavering support. I hope to see you soon at a program – online or in person. 

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What Is Art?


That's a question that bedevils art experts and "civilians" alike. It's not set in stone but there seems to be a common understanding that art is an object that is created for others to experience.

The key word is "experience." Does that necessarily mean you have to enjoy a work of art? Do you have to love it?


Every new artistic movement has had its early detractors.

The Impressionist movement was led by masters like Monet and Degas, yet conservative critics panned their work for its "unfinished, sketch-like appearance." Impressionism originated in France in the 19th century and the subjects were mainly landscapes and scenes of everyday life

These artists were among the fathers of what is known as "modern art." Does anyone today not believe that Monet and Degas are masters of the genre? Do you know anyone who doesn't love their art? Here is one of Monet's water lily paintings. 

Expressionism, which also has its roots in the late 19th century, is defined as an artistic style in which the "artist seeks to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse within a person."

One of the most famous examples is Edvard Munch's The Scream, which sold at auction for $120 million!

Vincent Van Gogh is recognized as one of the masters of German Expressionism although he never sold a painting in his lifetime, only becoming famous after his death. Here is his famous Sunflowers.

…And Now

From the 1943s through the 1970s, Sarasota was a thriving art colony, recognized nationally for the celebrated painters and sculptors who had homes and studios in the area.

These artists came from across the United States and had a significant impact on the local art scene, representing major styles and trends of 20th century art. They were inspired by the lush flora and fauna as well as the Ringling Circus.

Arts Advocates has the foremost collection of Sarasota Colony paintings and sculptures on public display. You can experience them by visiting the Arts Advocates Gallery. Descending Yellows by Hilton Leech is the first painting acquired for the collection.

Then enter Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and others who led the Contemporary art movement. Incidentally, there is debate about whether these contemporary artists are simply an extension of the modern movement.

But Warhol no doubt shocked the art world with his famous Campbell Soup Cans. Why did he choose these objects? It's said that he asked a friend for inspiration and the friend suggested the soup cans.

The Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles saw the collage and offered the artist a show in the summer of 1962. For that exhibit Warhol also painted one of each of the 32 varieties of Campbell soup. The show caused a sensation.

I happen to think that Andy Warhol was creating artworks, including his striking portraits of celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor, and I like them. But not everybody does. Maybe you do -- or don't.

Is This Art?

This brings me to an "artwork" that I saw a few years ago at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a paragon of contemporary art. I snapped this photo because I wanted a record of something I couldn't believe I was seeing with my own eyes: a shopping cart filled with hub caps.

I definitely do not like this piece. However, my reaction to it fits the definition of art that we started with – that art is an object that is created for others to experience. Well, I did have a gut feeling about the piece. But I have to say I don't consider it art.

That's the beauty of art. As the saying goes, it's all in the eyes of the beholder.

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts about this shopping cart creation. Do you think it's art? 

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Could You Live in a Tiny House?


Is a home more than just a house? Does the size and design matter if you have a bed to sleep in and a roof over your head?

The design of the houses we live in has evolved over the years. The famed Sarasota School of Architecture originated during the post-World War II housing boom and became famous for dwellings with clean lines, open-plan structures, and large windows to view the indigenous terrain and facilitate ventilation.

The renowned Umbrella House, designed by Paul Rudolph, was described by Architectural Digest as "One of the five most remarkable houses of the mid-twentieth century."It still stands today and the Sarasota Architectural Foundation gives tours (now on hold). 

Umbrella House

The post-war housing boom is also renowned for the thousands of houses built for returning GIs in the new community of Levittown on Long Island. They were considered small at 750 square feet.

Then – and Now

How small can you shrink a house – and still call it a house? A growing trend is tiny houses, defined as less than 400 square feet. Different styles were on display at a recent tiny house exhibit in the Bradenton Convention Center. Many of these houses are on wheels so it was easy to tow them right onto the floor of the large convention space.

It was surprising to walk through a 215-square house and not feel too claustrophobic even if you did have to duck to climb the stairs in one house on display that actually had a small loft on a second level.

The houses had gleaming stoves, sinks, and even dishwashers and air conditioning. Every space was utilized with pull-down tables and couches that opened up into beds. Small touches like a decorative pane of glass in a front door, wall hangings, and bowls of flowers added to a sense of hominess.

Take a brief tour and decide: could you live in a tiny house?

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Open to the Public


Our new Arts Advocates Gallery opens to the public on Saturday, July 17. Join us then between 2-5 pm and enjoy viewing 19 paintings from our renowned collection by the Sarasota Colony of Artists.  

©2021 Maria Lyle

From the 1930s through the 1970s, Sarasota was a thriving art colony, recognized nationally for the celebrated painters and sculptors who had homes and studios in the area. They came from around the country representing major styles and trends of the 20th century.

Our exhibit includes works by famous painters (see paintings below) whose other creations are owned by major museums around the world.

Over the years, our works of art have been on display at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and will continue to be shown there as well.

The exhibit will be open to the public every Saturday from 2:00-5:00 pm. No appointment is required. Written information is available for self-guided tours. We are located in the Crossings at Siesta Mall on Tamiami Trail and Siesta Key Drive (enter through the north entrance next to Connors restaurant).

Docent-guided tours of the exhibit are open to the public at 11:00 am on the first Wednesday of each month. Group and special tours can be arranged through Stephenie Frasher, docent team leader, at or by calling 443-454-2206

What You'll See

Included in the 19 paintings in the gallery exhibit are:

Hilton Leech. His "Descending Yellows" is the very first painting we purchased. 

Helen Sawyer. We own "Summer." She was married to Jerry Farnsworth, whose painting "Night Wind" is also in our exhibit. They lived and worked in Sarasota for more than 50 years.

Jimmy Ernst. His paintings are owned by the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, and the Smithsonian. We own "Image Scape."

Mary Sarg Murphy. In the 1930s she was well known for her magazine illustrations and children's book designs and later gained recognition for her portraits. Like other Colony artists, she was inspired by the circus in Sarasota. We own "Center Ring."

Jon Corbino. He is represented in 64 U.S. museums. We own Palette "to Eva Lee."

William Hartman. His son Bill Hartman still owns the William Hartman Gallery started by his father. It's located on Palm Avenue. We own "Circus Wagons." 

Ben Stahl. He was an award-winning artist who also gained famed for creating hundreds of illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post and other popular magazines. We own "Alice Mattock of Spirt Lake."

Shirley Clement. We own "White Dress." In the 1930s she was well known for her magazine illustrations and children's book designs and later gained recognition for her paintings.

We hope we've whetted your appetite to visit the Arts Advocates Gallery and enjoy more paintings in our wonderful collection. See you there!

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Together Again in Person!


How sweet it was for members and guests to gather for Arts Advocates' first in-person get-together in over a year. More than 35 people enjoyed our "Meet & Mingle" event held on June 9th in the beautiful social room of the Beau Ciel condo.

Old friendships were rekindled and new ones forged as attendees enjoyed wine and cheese over conversations long delayed by the pandemic.

For the first time, Arts Advocates' new posters were unveiled featuring images from our collection of paintings and sculptures. For a donation of $35, guests could also obtain packets of note cards with images of four paintings in the collection. Judy Cole, who is a new member, won the drawing for a $100 gift certificate for Michael's on East.

Gallery Director and Past President Donna Maytham described the new Arts Advocates Gallery located in the Crossings at Siesta Mall that will open to the general public on July 17. This is the first-ever gallery for the organization.

Seventeen paintings of Sarasota Colony artists have been removed from the Van Wezel, where our collection has been housed for many years and will be on display for the enjoyment of our members and guests in our own Gallery. Arts Advocates workshops and special events will be held in the Gallery.

The exhibit will be open to the public every Saturday from 2:00-5:00 pm beginning July 17th. Docent-guided tours of our exhibit will be offered at 11 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. Group and special tours can be arranged through Stephenie Frasher, docent team leader, at or by calling 443-454-2206.

Donna asked guests who belong to other social organizations to invite their members to visit the Gallery individually or by scheduling a group tour.

Special thanks to the following for their donations to the event:

  • Cabot Creameries – cheddar cheese
  • Cecelia Condor– the space and bartender
  • Jeannette Paladino – wine
  • Donna Maytham -- $100 gift certificate and note cards
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The Legacy of the Sarasota Colony


They liked nothing better than painting and sculpting. But artists also enjoyed having fun at costume balls and gallery openings during the golden age of the Sarasota Colony in the years following World War II.

William (Bill) Hartman, owner of William Hartman Gallery on Palm Avenue should know. His father, represented in Arts Advocates' collection with the painting "Circus Wagon, "was one of the leaders of the movement.

Many Art Schools

"What ignited the art scene was the GI Bill," said Bill. This government program offered to return veterans tuition and living stipends for college or vocational programs. Airbases throughout the state trained thousands of pilots. Many came to love the area and decided to stay and study at more than a dozen art schools that opened to meet the growing need.

The core Sarasota Colony consisted of about 60 to 70 artists who were full-time residents, according to Bill. Many of these artists also had their own schools or taught at the Ringling School of Art, including Syd Solomon and Wilfrid Berg. Another was Hilton Leech who owned the Hilton Leech House and Amagansett Art School on Hillview Street that is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Seasonal visitors and retirees from the north provided additional students for the art schools. Sarasota, with all its charm, provided the subject matter. The Ringling Circus, headquartered in Sarasota, figured in many paintings

"My father attended the Ringling School of Art on the GI Bill where he met my mother," said Bill. He opened the Hartman Gallery in the building that now houses the Sage Restaurant. Next door was the Syd Solomon Sarasota School of Art.

Heart of Town

In the 1950s downtown Sarasota was the heart of the arts community. Businesses would pick an artist to showcase with an exhibit of their artworks. They would take out ads and host opening day parties that were well attended. Dozens of artists exhibited their paintings at the Sarasota Art Association.

"At that time, Sarasota was best known for the visual arts," said Bill (pictured below with a painting by his father.) The formation and growth of performing arts organizations came years later.

In 1956, Ben Stahl, a staple of the colony, was commissioned by the Catholic Press of Chicago to create 14 paintings of the Stations of the Cross for a new Bible.

"These paintings were fairly sizable and he wanted to show them locally. There was only one gallery big enough and it was owned by parents. My dad made all the frames for the paintings. Over the next two weeks, there were lines out the door and 5,000 people came to see the show. That's how important the visual arts were," said Bill.

Women artists were an important part of the Sarasota Colony. In 1953, The Petticoat Painters was founded by Martha Hartman to showcase the talents of female artists. Helen Protas, an early abstract artist, was a founding member. The by-invitation-only group still exists.

But it wasn't all work and no play. Besides gallery parties, "There were dances at the Lido Casino and the Beaux Arts Ball," said Bill. Colony artists showed another side of their artistry at this annual party where prizes were awarded for the wildest and most original costumes.

By the 1970s the members of the colony began to pass away, their artwork a lasting legacy of a movement that has only become stronger as Sarasota grew to become a destination for visitors and residents who have flocked here because of our flourishing arts and cultural community. 

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Public Art in Sarasota


As the cultural center of the Gulf Coast, Sarasota is home to museums like The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art which owns a world-renowned collection of paintings by the Flemish artist, Peter Paul Rubens.

Less well known is that Sarasota has a significant public art collection including sculptures and murals. John Ringling donated the first pieces of public art in the 1920s and the collection has grown over time.

There is now a City of Sarasota Public Art Committee that "facilitates the creation and exhibition of a wide variety of publicly and privately initiated artworks through commissions, acquisitions, donations, and loans."

These works of art are sprinkled around the city and you may drive by them every day without a second glance. But these treasures deserve our attention as much of the artworks behind the walls of our notable museums. John Ringling is quoted as having said, "There are no great cities without great art." That includes public art. A New York Times article last week documented that art is "proliferating in the public square."

Sarasota is a great city, admired by visitors who come here from around the world to enjoy our museums, symphony, opera, theaters, ballet, and performing arts hall. Our public art should be included when we claim bragging rights.

Here are just a few of these pieces of art, a couple taken from my car window, to whet your appetite. You can see all the pieces in a picture book recently published called "Public Art. Public Spaces. The Sarasota Collection" that is available for download here. Enjoy!

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A Stroll Through the Gardens

 A butterfly flew onto my hand in the Butterfly Garden, one of the largest in Florida, as I wandered through Selby Gardens Historic Spanish Point in Osprey during a recent visit.

This colorful winged creation of nature is only one of the treasures of this bayfront property that is a revered part of Sarasota's storied history. Century's old trees, native Florida plants, sculptures, and old restored buildings dot the landscape as you walk along nature trails littered with crushed shells.

Ancient History

The gardens date back 5,000 years. In the "A Window to the Past" exhibition visitors can step inside an ancient shell midden and be surrounded on three sides by what lies beneath the surface.

In 1867, the Webb family from Utica, NY, established a homestead on the grounds. This heritage is preserved, and visitors can tour the carefully restored 1901 Guptill House, the rehabilitated Mary's Chapel, and a reconstruction of the Webb Packing House.

In 1910, Bertha Palmer bought over 80,000 acres of land in and around Sarasota and Manatee County. Of that total, 350 acres were on Little Sarasota Bay that included the Webb homestead. Palmer called it The Oaks.

She preserved the pioneer buildings and connected them with lavish formal gardens irrigated by shell aqueducts, still on view, to carry water thorough her scenic gardens. Three of them – the Sunken Garden, Duchene Lawn, and Jungle Walk – are available to visitors today.

These photos capture only a small portion of the beauty of the Gardens and are a taste of what you can expect if decide to visit.

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Meet Harry Potter’s Illustrator

Mary GrandPré, the original American illustrator of the Harry Potter books that became an international sensation, turned down the job when first offered to her. "I was just too busy with other work," she told Arts Advocates members at our April virtual meeting.

When Scholastic still pushed by sending her the first manuscript, she was hooked. "We had no idea that it would become this international phenomenon," she said, while showing the virtual audience examples of her Harry Potter illustrations along with her other art works. She also created the typeface for the famous Harry Potter logo and illustrations for several Harry Potter spinoff products.

Everything was hush-hush as the books were published to continued acclaim. "The manuscripts for each book were hand delivered to me and I immediately locked them in a safe," she said. Only her husband knew she was creating illustrations for the books. 

Her New Paths

While she is best known for her Harry Potter illustrations, she already had a thriving career as a children's book writer and illustrator. She was also the conceptual artist on Dreamwork's animated film "Antz" and on Blue Sky Studios' animated film "Ice Age."

Her "new path," as she calls it, has led to her current oeuvre of abstract paintings on large wood panels. "Jazz inspires me and helps me find movement and shape in my work," she said.

Mary lives and works in Sarasota. During the pandemic, she has found an outlet for her anxiety by moving down another path. She started creating Sock Monkeys, works of art made with real socks that she auctions on Instagram with the proceeds going to a charity that feeds the hungry, while continuing to work on her abstract paintings.

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What Does a Docent Do?

What Does a Docent Do?

If you've ever visited a museum or taken a tour while on vacation – and most of us have – then you've most likely been guided by a docent, who was probably a volunteer who served without pay.

You no doubt have wonderful memories of docent guided tours that enriched your experience and possibly other tours that you'd rather forget. Mark Ormond, who advises Arts Advocates and recommends additions to our collection, is also an experienced docent.

In a recent presentation for potential docents to guide tours of Arts Advocates Florida artists' collection, he explained what docents do and how they can help viewers have a more emotional and intellectual experience when viewing a painting or sculpture. He cited works from our collection as examples to illustrate how light, color, form, architecture, and media can influence how we see a work of art. Does the painting or sculpture draw you in by stirring a memory, making you feel happy or sad, or just plain bored?

Audience Engagement

Mark pointed out, "A docent shouldn't be a talking head. He or she must engage the audience, scan their faces and read their body language to gauge their interest and involvement in the work. Ask questions to learn what they're seeing and experiencing. Every time you view a painting or sculpture you see something new that changes your previous perspective and enriches your experience."

A docent should also have a broad understanding of the works and historical significance in order to be prepared to answer questions. Docents need to make a significant commitment of time for training and continuing education. These are the requirements, for example, for docents at The Ringling Museum of Art.

Here are a number of works of art from Arts Advocates collection. Let a painting or sculpture speak to you. What are you seeing? What moves you? What makes you happy? What makes you sad?

Experience These Paintings

To create appealing and seductive paintings artists must understand color theory and be able to mix colors that attract our attention. This is particularly true in an abstract painting. Guided by this color wheel can you find all the colors that Syd Solomon uses in his abstract painting titled Stravinsky. 

Humberto Calzada is an artist who understands not only color theory and composition, but also mathematics and physics. He had to create an architectural plan in his head for his composition using geometry and understanding perspective so that we might have the joy of discovering the puzzle of this illusion of space he presents for us on his two-dimensional canvas.

Can you find the perspectival lines and vanishing points in the Calzada painting?

Jerry Farnsworth who created the painting on the right called Night Wind continues a long tradition of painting women looking out of a window in a composition that challenges the artist to balance the light and atmosphere of an interior space with that of an outdoor space. Can you think of what you experience when you are inside looking out a window?

The Arts Advocates Collection includes the watercolor Wilford Loran painted in 1965, called Land's End. It was his impression of the natural site on the bay front that the Van Wezel now occupies. Loran's approach to painting was similar to Monet in that he was not interested in an exact realistic depiction of Nature. Are your memories of nature exact or more like impressions and sensations?

Bruce Marsh who is represented in the collection by his oil painting Amalfi IV uses his own photographs as a reference point for his construction of a painting. He often grids his canvas and chooses to focus on what he observes in small areas of an image to form a large composite image of a place. Do you think you do the same in your mind when you try to remember some place you have visited in the past?

If you enjoyed this brief tour of Arts Advocates collection, then explore our other artists by clicking here. Enjoy!

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Glass Sculptures Dazzle at Ringling


Glass sculptures designed by famed artists including Dale Chihuly, Giampaolo Amoruso and Martin Blank are gracing a gallery at the Ringling College of Art and Design. These dazzling creations are in an exhibit called "A Few of Our Favorite Things."

The sculptures are from the Richard and Barbara Basch Collection and feature some of the most exceptional examples of art glass and brilliant one-of-a-kind commissions by the greatest masters of the medium from around the world. Barbara Basch narrates a short film describing the provenance and intent of the pieces. Photos of several of the sculptures are shown below this post.

The exhibit closes on March 27th.It is necessary to make an appointment to visit these colorful and unique sculptures as the Ringling is limiting attendance during the pandemic.

To schedule an appointment for your viewing, email

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Pioneering Women Artists


Women's History Month is celebrated each March to honor and tell the stories of women who transformed our nation.

Arts Advocates celebrates 11 women artists whose works are included in our unparalleled collection of paintings and sculpture from the movement now known as the Sarasota Art Colony. Starting in the 1930s through the 1970s, Sarasota was a thriving art colony, recognized nationally for the celebrated painters and sculptors who had homes and studios in the area.

Hundreds of painters and sculptors moved here and drew inspiration from the orange groves, celery farms, cattle ranches, beaches, and tropical splendor. John Ringling brought the circus to Sarasota, also influencing these artists. Ringling is often credited with planting the seeds for the flourishing arts community that we now enjoy in Sarasota.

You can enjoy and celebrate these pioneering women artists by clicking here to see their works along with all the paintings and sculptures in our collection.

Women artists represented in Arts Advocates collection include:

Beth Arthur "Beach Garden Cities"

Carol Baumgartner "Sea Drift"

Lynn Davison "Pressing Leaves"

Shirley Clement "White Dress"

Glenna Finch untitled abstract

Edna Hibel "Oriental Figures"

Dorothy Gillespie "Song of the Raindance"

Sophie Johnstone "The Secret"

Helen Sawyer "Summer"

Lois Bartlett Tracy "The Portal"

Mary Sarg Murphy "Center Ring"

Click on the social media links below if you'd like to share this post with your followers so they, too, can enjoy the 53 outstanding paintings and sculptures in our collection. 

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Q&A – Teresa Carson


How does poetry complement and influence other art forms?

Every great work of art, in any form, attempts to give viewers/readers/listeners access to the eternal truths that exist underneath the world of appearances; therefore, all art forms complement each other. Furthermore, I believe that multi-disciplinary collaborations, live or not, have the power to influence, even expand, one's work in unexpected ways … and that's always a good thing!

Why is poetry important to our lives?

Sometimes I jokingly call poetry the "cod liver oil" of the arts because people are always insisting, "it's good for you," which, in my opinion, carries an unspoken, "you won't like it because poetry tastes terrible." But, as William Carlos Williams wrote, "It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there." So what IS found there? Awe. Wonder. Eternity. Connection. Soul. The trick is finding the poems with which you can have a deep conversation.

You describe poems as "conversations." What do you mean by that?

For most of us the way in which we were taught to approach a poem was with one question: What does this poem mean? As if the reader's sole role is to break poem's code. This approach not only disregards the complexity and depth of a poem, but also ends up making us feel stupid when we can't crack it. So I'm a mission to teach those who have been shying away from poetry, and to expand the tool-kits of existing readers, a far more accessible approach which consists of entering into a deep conversation with a poem. In this approach the reader doesn't interrogate the prisoner-poem until it gives up its secret; instead the reader deep listens and pays attention to every aspect of the poem (including punctuation and spaces). In time the reader will discover the multiple and varied layers of meaning inherent in the poem.

Serendipity on a visit to Ostia Antica, an extinct city near Rome, inspired you to write a series of books about that experience. What was so inspiring about that singular event?

It's difficult for me to talk about what happened at Ostia Antica on that day in 2014 because I don't actually know what happened. The outing was planned as a perfunctory visit in order to check "extinct city" off of my sightseeing list. But the place had other plans. Here's the best way to explain my experience: as soon as I walked into the Porta Romana entrance, everything in the place started talking to me. Does that sound somewhat wackadoodle? Trust me, going through the experience felt even more wackadoodle! We ended up spending hours roaming in and around the extensive ruins.

By the time we arrived back in New Jersey, where we were living at the time, the titles of a five-book series based on Ostia Antica had already appeared in my head. I also knew that each book would be bi-lingual (English & Italian). Deerbrook Editions published Visit to an Extinct City, the first book in the series, in January. Lucky for me I have a publisher who is willing to commit to such an unusual poetry project!

You lived in the northeast most of your life before moving to Sarasota three years ago. Has that life change also influenced your poetry?

Oh, yes. Before moving to Sarasota I had lived exclusively in densely populated urban areas where nature was at a premium. Noisy, dirty cities were my natural habitat … and I loved them. Since my daily experiences become the source material for my poems, that urban environment is very much evident in my first three books.

But Sarasota opened my eyes to the beauty of sky and clouds, birds and flowers, water and sand. I almost fell to my knees in astonishment the first time I saw a fox on my morning walk! I'm currently collaborating with fellow Arts Advocates member Leslie Butterfield, a visual artist, on Seven Sacred Pauses, which is a series of 8 paintings and poems based on the beauty of the natural world in this area.

What are your plans for Arts Advocates to encourage more people to read and enjoy poetry?

As mentioned earlier, I'm on a mission to engage people in the conversation of poetry because "what you find there" can change your life. For Arts Advocate members, I'm open to suggestions—possibilities include a talk, a workshop, or a reading. Additionally, members may receive my weekly "poetry blast," la poesia della settimana, by providing their email addresses to To find out more about me, my work, or my ideas about engaging in a conversation with poetry go to or CavanKerry Press Teresa Carson on Poetry

Part X (From Visit to an Extinct City)

O Ostia of uneven surfaces, where Romans walked; we walk; others will walk.
Sea, sun, the soul, and desire linger in your temples.
What votive offerings may new ghosts bring to old?

Fresco fragments, which never again will be a whole, cling to your walls.
The "day's work" of its artist decayed.
He lived, his name lived, his memory lived for years but not beyond.

Ostia of erasure, letters on a torso sink into stone.
What words did they make? What sentences? Who was meant to read them?
Were they meant to be funny? Angry? Sad? Profound?

Tell us. We'll understand.
Landscape of incomplete, of unswept, of cut open, of gone.
O Ostia, how can you bring us back to before when there's so much after?

Teresa Carson's work centers on the themes of time, memory, and the stories we humans tell. She is the author of four collections of poetry: Elegy for a Floater (CavanKerry Press, 2008); My Crooked House (CavanKerry Press, 2014), which was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize; The Congress of Human Oddities (Deerbrook Editions, 2015); and Visit to an Extinct City (Deerbrook Editions, 2021).

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