The End of the Circus………

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.

World Circus Day is Saturday!

Every year an announcement is sent world wide in celebration of World Circus Day. In  2013 it 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.



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 GD2

“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.

jon d


“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!

At madeby gallery ……

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.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 3.19.10 PMThe gallery is at the heart of the campus in the student center which is a buzz with activity and exhibits. A visit there is always an experience!

This week, gallery directory, Nancy O’Neil is featuring my art on madeby’s Facebook page.

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Thank you madeby gallery for handling my art all these years and for the Facebook press!

World Circus Day

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.”

Throwback Thursday


Happy hour

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.


Walter, Going Down

Florida’s Local Color



 Marker 24

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.

Boca Grande RR

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. 

___________ . ____________

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……..

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.

________________________ . __________________________

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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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


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!