RIAF Opening Night

By Megan McDonald October 12, 2011

Photo by Rebecca Baxter

The Ringling International Arts Festival opened with a blast last night—that blast being from the horns of the Asphalt Orchestra, which snaked through the courtyard for three different performances during the evening’s festivities. Actually, it wasn’t just horns; there were drums in the 12-piece ensemble, too, and even RIAF godfather Mikhail Baryshnikov stood impressed and entertained by the spectacle.

Photo by Rebecca Baxter

There was more to enjoy in the block party atmosphere: shrimp tacos, paella, pretzels, pizza and other food to eat; circus acrobats, jugglers, stilt walkers, and other “street” performers; and, inside the museum’s West Galleries, the impossibly cool white surroundings of the sound sculpture installation by Swiss artist Zimoun, who was also in attendance. Cardboard boxes, filler wire, cotton balls and motors comprised several different pieces here; the sounds and vibrations were a change-of-pace counterpart to the activities outside the gallery doors.

Photo by Rebecca Baxter

And, of course, there were fireworks—over the bay, lighting up the sky behind the iconic statue of David—now a RIAF tradition for opening night. One more thing to mention: the little battery-operated fans distributed to each guest. Not only did they cool sweaty faces on a fairly humid night, the little fan blades spelled out in colorful letters the name of each of the Ringling Museum’s entities—i.e., the Circus Museum, Museum of Art, Ca d’Zan, etc. A big hit, and quite a souvenir.

Later today, the first stage performances of the festival begin. I’ll be seeing the Wooster Group’s creative take on Hamlet; more on that tomorrow.

For a preview of what you can expect from the 2011 RIAF artists, click here.

For more photos of RIAF Opening Night, click here.

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