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
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.
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.
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 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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