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Dst In Hemispheres Magazine December 2020

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Contemporary Gulf Coast

The always artsy city of Sarasota updates its cultural offerings

Hemispheres Magazine — December 2020

Home to ballets, orchestras, and opera companies, as well as the renowned John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida, has always punched above its weight creatively. Now, the city is seeing a contemporary art boom to match its classical offerings. Here, a quick guide to what’s hot on the Cultural Coast.

VISIT: Opened last December as the region’s only museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, the $27 million Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art & Design reimagined the derelict 1926 Sarasota High School building, generating 15,000 square feet of gallery space. In lieu of a permanent collection, the museum presents changing exhibits; artist Janaina Tschäpe and architect Carl Abbott are featured this month.

STAY: Located in the up-and-coming Rosemary Arts District, The Sarasota Modern is a sleek 89-room boutique hotel. Designers punched up the stark white aesthetic—an ode to the mid-century Sarasota School of Architecture—with tropical florals to put a playful Florida spin on Minimalism. Amenities include balcony clawfoot bathtubs, a vintage VW bus named Reggie that serves as a beach shuttle, and reusable water bottles bearing illustrations inspired by the sketches of Sarasota School architects Paul Rudolph and Victory Lundy.

EAT: Set in a sunny courtyard amid five murals by Florida painters, The Overton is an all-day treat with emerald Eames style chairs and locally made pottery. In the morning, the space hosts the boutique Varietal Coffee bar, while lunchtime brings fresh dishes such as jackfruit tacos. At night, Colson’s Lounge pops up to serve cocktails on tap.

SEE: The only professional Black theater company on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe celebrated its 20th anniversary season in 2019–20 with the debut of a renovated performance space. Indoor performances are currently on hold, so the troupe has pivoted to an open-air concert series with social ly di stanced seating. The “Joyful, Joyful Holiday Concert” runs December 2–17, while January brings tributes to the divas of soul music, including Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, and a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

TOUR: Tootle around town by trolley with Discover Sarasota Tours. The 90-minute Public Art Tour passes 80-plus murals, monuments, and sculptures, wandering into hidden neighborhoods along the way. In part because local development supports the city’s municipal art fund, there’s always something new to discover.