It is wonderful to see communities embrace their history and resurrect its finest, old buildings into something fresh and innovative.
So many times, we see vehement developers with plans for mammoth-sized projects, intent on making them a ton of money while having devastating effects on our environment, changing our cityscape. What ensues also often involves loss of jobs, wildlife displacement and cultural degradation. Sometimes we are incredulous at the destruction of old hotels, unique homes and structures that represent who we are, how far we have come, and the union of people it took to get us to this point. With a swing of a wrecking ball, hundreds of years of history, love, and stories violently come to an end in the name of new growth and expansion.
And yet, at the same time, grass-roots efforts by concerned citizens can spark a desire, then a plan to save our stately old manors. Years of fighting the odds and massive fundraising, combined with innovative thinkers has resulted in the saving of one of our stateliest buildings. Newly reopened as the Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College, the old Sarasota High School is back in session.
The old SHS is a typical brick school building with steps leading up to a grand, main entrance. The double doorway was wide enough to accommodate generations of kids as they headed out after the last day of school into a perfect Sarasota summer. With the Paul Rudolph additions, the sunshade areas added a playful, architectural element. Thankfully, all that remains beautifully intact with the contemporary museum areas blending all together in an esthetically pleasing way. With many of the classrooms being utilized as continuing education venues for Ringling College, an onsite giftshop and an impressive 15,000 square feet reserved for exhibitions, plans for future concerts, outdoor movie showings and fundraising galas are already in the works.
Designed as a haven for traveling tours of contemporary artworks, guests can expect to see new displays throughout the year. Currently, the works of Muniz are being feature on the second floor of the museum. A variety of photos from his extensive collection feature everyday objects made from peanut butter and jelly or caviar with perspectives from very close to unfathomably far to create photos that often take a minute to fully capture. It is fun to watch the faces of the other art museum guests as recognition finally hits. Also on exhibit is “Color. Theory. & B/W,” with brilliant displays of fabric and texture showcasing every hue in the rainbow with brilliant usage of the natural light that floods the area. The works of several other artists, including Norman Lewis, Luke Stettner, and Helen Frankenthaler adorn the expansive walls, some using old bricks and wood from the property as backdrop adornments for the art. An outdoor courtyard area is also wonderful to explore with unexpected displays like a Zen jail.
Sarasota Art Museum is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and closed on Tuesdays. The hours for the weekend are Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $15 and free for museum members, children under 17, veteran and active military personnel, public safety officers, and cross-college alliance students. Free admission for all is offered on the first Sunday of each month. Parking is always free. For more information, please visit ringling.edu.
Photos courtesy of Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College Facebook page.