My very favorite alligator “Lily” is a pleasure to play with. I introduced her into my work as “The Waiter Gator” when I was the artist of the year for the Florida WineFest.
Her 3 dimensional debut came in 2012. The alligator became a public art installation on Palm Avenue in the City of Sarasota.
Her suave figure has appeared in a number of illustrations….
Last month Lily was again cut from aluminum plate and finished as a four foot by eight foot sculpture named appropriately – “Tickle Me”.
It is difficult for me to grasp the ending of The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I’ve lived most of my life in the city that was distinctly shaped by and benefited tremendously from their presence since 1927.
The Greatest Show on Earth ends Sunday May 21, 2017.
John Ringling knew what he was doing when the Florida building bust devastated the city in the 1920’s. Moving his circus winter headquarters to Sarasota brought visitors and business to the city while much of the state continued to struggle through heavily depressed times.
With the winter quarters established in Sarasota it wasn’t long before every travel guide linked the city to the circus.
In the 1950’s entertainment attractions began popping up throughout Florida drawing visitors away from Sarasota and Ringling’s winter quarters circus performances. A grand metal entrance sign was erected to provide more visibility for attracting tourists to the quarters.
The circus has become a favorite subject for me to paint and has given me some outstanding commissions from Feld Entertainment and The World Circus Federation. Through these I’ve been privileged to get to experience some fantastic, behind the scene private tours including a visit to the exceptional sanctuary Feld Entertainment has provided for the elephants.
There are dozens of other circuses performing world wide but none will ever seem quite as great to me as the Greatest Show on Earth.
And just a note:
If the Ringling Museum Gift Shops are sold out of the Winter Quarters poster you can purchase them through my studio.
Every year an announcement is sent world wide in celebration of World Circus Day. In 2013 in was my honor to be selected to create the announcement card for this very special event.
If you happen to be in Sarasota this Saturday April 15, 2017 Showfolks is celebrating the day by opening their place on Lockwood Ridge Road to the public. It is a fascinating, fantastic home of circus memorabilia that should not be missed.
HAPPY WORLD CIRCUS DAY!
I began creating a series of seriously whimsical rabbits a number of years ago. The first rabbit was hand cut the day Walter Cronkite passed away. “Walter” as he is fondly called appears and reappears. “Walter – Going down” was the very first.
This August I installed two in Sarasota in amazing gardens………..
“Walter -Going Down” has a tropical residence alongside a lap pool. While “Walter – Who? What?” is paired with another sculpture in a slightly more formal setting and in a different material.
I’m insistent installation is done properly. Thankfully Sarasota has an extremely experienced art installer – Jon Dowd. We shared one hot, humid afternoon placing and installing the rabbits.
“Walter -Who? What?” is the first in the series to be cut from metal other than aluminum. I chose mild steel to be sensitive to the sculpture he was to be paired with. The steel plate selected was already aging but I took a few steps to achieve a more aged finish.
Before degreasing, rust acceleration and rust inhibition the rabbit looked like this……
Installed he looks like this………
A happy ending for two tails!
If you are not familiar with madeby gallery now is an excellent time to discover it! The gallery is at 2700 Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34234 on the campus of Ringling College of Art and Design. Visitor parking is on the south side of Martin Luther King Blvd. just across the street from the gallery. madeby’s hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10:30 – 4:30.
This week, gallery directory, Nancy O’Neil is featuring my art on madeby’s Facebook page.
Thank you madeby gallery for handling my art all these years and for the Facebook press!
Celebrate World Circus Day – April 18, 2015
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.
Ringling is back and its headquarters are just up the road in Ellenton, Florida.
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.”
Click here to read the April Newsletter.
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.
Walter, Going Down
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.