A weekend spent exploring Sarasota’s art scene is well spent

Art Ovation Hotel




Since circus magnate John Ringling established the Sarasota Museum of Art that bears his name in 1930, Sarasota has become a destination for artists and art lovers alike. The Ringling remains a must-see today, of course, but there’s also no shortage of theatres, music festivals, dance shows, comedy shows and cinemas. The arts are an essential part of Sarasota’s identity and a big draw for tourists and residents alike.

Where to stay

Art Ovation Hotel. For starters, its name contains the word “art,” but the hotel’s connection to our creative community runs much deeper than that. It hosts exhibition shows, music, comedy shows and much more, and its central downtown location puts you in the perfect place to explore the city’s theatrical offerings.

Ringling Museum Galleries




First day

No arts lover should leave Sarasota without spending some serious time at The Ringling, which opens at 10 a.m. daily. Wander the halls of the art museum and admire the Renaissance masterpieces from the permanent collection, but also be sure to snap more contemporary photos, like these in working conditionsa collection of photographs that explore the ideas of work and work and is on view through March 3.

Have lunch in The Ringling Grillroom before continuing to explore the campus, which includes Ca’ d’Zan, John Ringling’s famous Venetian-style palace, and its circus exhibits. Don’t miss the sprawling miniature circus model created by Howard Tibbals, which depicts a typical day in the life of a circus with 42,000 handcrafted pieces spread over 3,800 square feet.

Recharge with a swim in the hotel’s rooftop pool (tropical cocktail optional) and then plan your next move. If you’re a theater lover, there’s an embarrassment of riches to choose from. The Florida Studio Theater is located directly across the street, and always presents a rich mix of dramas and comedies, as well as cabaret shows, musicals and improvisation. It is also a short walk from the Sarasota Opera, whose season this year includes famous and rare operas by composers Georges Bizet (Carmen), Gaetano Donizetti (Lucia Lammermoor), Giuseppe Verdi (Louisa Miller(and Joseph Haydn)Infidelity disappointedor Deception Superior).

Sarasota Ballet




The Opera House also hosts occasional performances by Sarasota Ballet, which mixes world premieres with established programs. When not at the opera house, the ballet is performed at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, which you’ll need to drive to. The center is home to Asolo Rep, one of the city’s best theater groups, whose calendar is also packed with options. We are especially excited about this season Intimate clothingThe story of a black seamstress in New York in 1905 who is torn between marrying a stranger and her feelings for a Jewish store owner. Choose anything, really. You can’t go wrong.

Live music at Bradenton's Oscura




If you’re not exhausted yet, round out your night with a trip to Bradenton’s Oscura, which hosts lively rock and pop shows most weekends. If country music is your thing, be sure to boogie at Joyland, a country music nightclub that stays open until 1 a.m.

the second day

After a windy first day, allow yourself to sleep in, but don’t stay too late. Start your day by heading to the Sarasota Museum of Art, which showcases contemporary art and is run by Ringling College of Art and Design. (There’s the Ringling name again.) The artwork on display changes regularly, but expect to impress with a mix of traditional forms, such as photography and drawing, as well as site-specific installations and 3D works that often incorporate unusual elements like rubber and steel. Pick up the pieces Designed by Judy Pfaff, for example, it runs from November to March and includes organic elements from Pfaff’s garden, as well as foam, plastic, neon and more.

Sarasota Museum of Art




While you’re there, you can also have lunch at the Bistro, the restaurant inside the museum, which is famous for its excellent soups (an amazing tomato soup), delicious salads and sandwiches. Breakfast and lunch are also served on weekends. The museum also has a fun gift shop, with creative gifts for people back home.

The West Coast Black Theater Company was once on this island




You might be tempted to spend the rest of the day lounging by the pool, and we don’t blame you for doing that, but there’s still plenty to see. Grab a caffeinated beverage of your choice and browse the stacks at Bookstore1Sarasota, featuring classics and bestsellers, as well as tomes by local writers. New paperback in hand, start making plans for the evening. First, check to see if the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe has a show on its calendar. If that happens, go. This year’s troupe season includes a musical about love in the Caribbean (Once on this island), a tribute to the music of Marvin Gaye (soul Prince) and the world premiere of a play about a black woman who murdered a white doctor in Live Oak, Florida, in 1952 (Ruby).

Sarasota Contemporary Dance




Still not satiated? Check out the calendars of the Sarasota Orchestra, Urban Theater, Sarasota Players, Sarasota Contemporary Dance and any of dozens of other local arts organizations to see what’s playing. Then cap off the whirlwind weekend with some laughs at the McCurdy Comedy Theatre, which hosts touring comic strips every week, as well as more exciting shows like drag shows and burlesque shows.

Insider advice

Are you curious about what the talented students at Ringling College of Art and Design do? The college periodically hosts art exhibitions showcasing student artwork, as well as special evenings during which its studios are open to visitors for demonstrations by faculty and staff.

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