World Circus Day

Celebrate World Circus Day – April 18, 2015

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The circus mural on the Robarts Sports Arena was commissioned to welcome the return of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to Sarasota, Florida January 17, 2008.  The mural was to be temporary, as the building was slated to be replaced.  It remains as vibrant today as it was on completion seven years ago.

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Ringling is back and its headquarters are just up the road in Ellenton, Florida.

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This World Circus Day take advantage of a free day visiting the Circus Museum on the campus of the John and Mable Ringling Museum.

For those of you who may have more of an interest in the circus in Sarasota you can view some excellent photos in my posting “Sarasota’s Big Top.”

Throwback Thursday

 

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Happy Hour

 

This is one of my first whimsical paintings.  In my early years as a member of the Petticoat Painters, I had trouble creating a piece to meet the theme of an upcoming annual show.  Nothing I was working on at the time seemed to be going in the right direction.

I ended up painting my first seriously whimsical painting for that show.  It was titled “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5”.  I’ve no idea where it is today and sadly I can’t seem to put my hands on a photo of it.

To add a little humor and lightness to gallery shows,  I painted a few whimsical animal pieces for each.  They were fun, well received and became the sketches for my dream to one day delve into a 3rd dimension and create large animal sculptures.

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Walter, Going Down

Florida’s Local Color

 

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Florida’s mangrove islands are mysterious and curious.  They are filled with an abundance of pristine wildlife often living amongst an odd collection of debris that remains tangled in the web of roots that bind the island.

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The Boca Grande Railroad Station – 1928

A  landmark that has survived in Florida’s landscape.  Beautifully repurposed and filling a community’s needs in the 21st century.

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 Byrd’s, Florida in the 50’s

Fish camps were distinctive architecture in Florida’s coastal communities. Rivers, bays and inlets often had these worn buildings teetering out over the water.  Respites for hungry and thirsty boaters – with a characteristic scent of bait lingering about them! 

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Saturday Matinée, Florida in the 50’s

Visually documenting a place in Florida’s past offers a look at what helped to shape the character of a community.  It’s a typical movie house in the 1950s in Florida with a wonderful twist!   The Greatest Show on Earth premiered in the theatre with Charlton Heston, Jimmy Stewart and Betty Hutton in attendance.  Elvis performed here and Ringling Bros. used the facility as their infamous clown college for years!  Today the building is Sarasota’s Opera House.

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The Casino, Florida in the 50’s

A landmark lost – dependent on photographs, paintings and writings to be remembered. The Lido Casino was designed by architect Ralph Twitchell and built as a WPA project.  It opened in 1940 and was demolished just 29 years later in 1969.  The iconic eight foot tall concrete sea horses are the most remembered architectural detail of the building. 

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I choose the subjects of my paintings in part because I feel some responsibility as an advocate for historic preservation.  It is my way of contributing to the chronicling of the history of our state and showing off the rich and varied fabric of each city, town and waterway that distinguishes it.

Circus, Circus, Circus……..

 

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I live and work in a city that was the heart of the circus for decades.  John Ringling moved the circus winter quarters to Sarasota in 1927 in an attempt to bring notoriety to a city devastated by the real estate bust and mending from the hurricane of 1926.  He most definitely succeeded!  Until very recently, if you opened any Florida guide book it touted Sarasota as the home of the circus.

I love doing art related to the circus.  In the past I’ve had the honor of being commissioned to create art for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus and for The World Circus Federation.

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With less than a two week window, I designed and installed a 78 foot mural on the front of Robarts Sports Arena.  It was the return of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey® Circus to Sarasota after a long lapse.  The Gold Tour was premiering its newest show.  It was January 17, 2008.

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As many Januarys go in Florida, 2008’s was a chilly one with temperatures down in the 40’s and gusting winds.  The weather was indeed a challenge for us as was the climb up and down ladders and onto scaffolding several times a day – especially for me, I’m a ninny about heights.

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Photo credit: Rob Mattson, Sarasota Herald Tribune

Yes, that is me sitting on the cold metal scaffold platform detailing the elephant’s harness just hours before the official opening.

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In 2008 the sports arena had seen better days.  The mural was to be temporary – to spruce up the building for the premier.  It was expected the arena would be demolished to make way for a new facility any day.  Seven years have passed and the building still stands along with the “temporary,” not too shabby mural.

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The Circus Ring of Fame announced its inductees for 2015, whose names and biographies will be featured on plaques in St. Armands Circle.   Among the inductees are: H.S.H. Prince Rainier of Monaco, creator of the Circus Festival of Monte Carlo.  The ring was created to pay tribute to the performers and outstanding supporters of the circus.  It is located in Sarasota in the center of St. Armands Circle.  This Saturday, January 10th  the inductees and or their representatives will  join in a discussion about the circus at the Sailor Circus Arena.  The event is open to the public and begins at 9:30.  The induction ceremony takes place on Jan. 11 at 2pm at St. Armands Circle. The Sarasota Circus Band plays beforehand at 1:30.

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“Rehearsal” Commissioned for World Circus Day by Princess Stephanie of Monaco for the Federation Mondiale du Cirque

The Festival was founded by Prince Rainier III in recognition of the importance of circus arts as part of European and, indeed,world culture. It is held in Monaco in January every year.  I am so very honored to have been selected by Princess Stephanie to create this piece and to exhibit at the festival.

December 2014………

 Christmas in paradise…………

XC_beach Thank you to all my new and returning customers.  It has been a pleasure working with each and every one of you.  The season has been busy and tremendously fun!  I’m packing pieces off to the Netherlands and across the U.S.A. to brighten walls and bring smiles to lots of faces!

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Support the arts!  A gift of art, an art museum membership, or tickets to a performing arts event make especially wonderful presents!

If you are short on cards you can still shop mangroves and mangoes or d.a.gordon dart online.  If you are in Sarasota, stop by the studio.  We still have a number of cards, ornaments, mugs and of course the extra special gift bags and eco – Good Bags!

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I send warm wishes to all for a peaceful and happy season of giving and sharing and unlimited opportunities in the new year to offer change and make a difference.

I personally plan to relish the coming days, finish some long overdue commissions, cut some fantastic sculptures and with any luck,  break ground on a new home!

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OH….and of note…… soon to be released book…………

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Thank you Fiona Green and the Edinburgh University Press for selecting one of my New Yorker drawings for the cover design.  Look for a copy at your favorite bookstore soon!

Once a Year

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December is upon us ……………Gotta say I’m thankful to have finished my last custom illustration order last week.  Now it’s time to finish a few overdue paintings and enjoy the spirit of the season!

If you are looking for a unique card to send this year….I created a few new ones that I’m especially fond of.  To view these and more go to mangroves and mangoes and d.a.grodon dart at Zazzle.

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Remember, you can customize the cards with your own message inside.  You can even add a photo and a year-end catch up letter! It is quite amazing what you can do with the cards or, short on time? Just order the cards as they are.

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving………..

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Wishing everyone a day of thanks and giving!

and after Thursday……

Turn on the Christmas music and begin to enjoy the very best time of the year!

Think about sending cards to those you rarely see.  Brighten someone’s Christmas with a very special card you have taken time to add a personal message or update to.  Zazzle, the company that creates cards from my designs allows you to customize, sign and even add your words to one or a 100 cards.

To view cards go to:

mangroves and mangoes or d.a.gordon dart

Posted in Art

Good Bag Sighting in France!

I love seeing where my art appears.  This time it’s in France!  Wish I was there!

This particular Good Bag features my drawing of the tower of John Ringling’s residence, Cà d’ Zan in Sarasota, Florida. The bags are 100% recycled material and made by a terrific company in New Hampshire owned and run by women- Enviro-Tote.

Good Bags can be purchased online at the mangovesandmangoes Etsy Shop and they are available for the holidays at my studio.

These bags should no be confused with the reusable gift bags made in China and sold through Zazzle.  These bags are washable and last forever!  They are made from eco-spun fabric, a sustainable material created from recycled plastic soda bottles! They are absolutely the most responsible bag on the market today.