Art Buzz

By staff March 1, 2005

When the Houses of Indian Beach were first announced a year ago, it looked like a new generation of Sarasota architects might build in the development of 24 or so million-dollar homes on seven acres on the east side of Bay Shore Road near the Ringling Museum. Now it's being called "Guy Place," since it appears most of the homes will be designed by Guy Peterson, one of the partners in the project. After a struggle last fall that had some citizens in a tussle with the developers, City Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the project. The Board of Indian Beach Sapphire Shores, the neighborhood organization that initially had some reservations, now says they "welcome the project and look forward to the time when this will be a distinguished element of the neighborhood." Peterson says, "We've saved as many of the trees as possible, and with roads and sewers in can look forward to seeing a few of the unique designs soon."

Joan Altabe, formerly art critic for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, has written a book called Art Behind the Scenes: One Hundred Masters In and Out of their Studios. It's published by Windstorm Creative, in Port Orchard, Wash; the initial print run of the $14.99 paperback will be 50,000. A pre-release review by Elizabeth Case, an animator for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, says, "Altabe breathes life into each artist's story." Altabe told Charlie Huisking of the Herald-Tribune, "We all have dark sides. Exposing the personal lives of the artists humanizes them."

Artist Leslie Fry, who taught sculpture at New College from 1999-2002, is this month completing four commissions for the Broward Public Art and Design Program Libraries Division Project that she began in 2002. One of the wall relief sculptures includes colorful fabric patterns (Seminole, Miccosukee, Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, and '30s-'50s Florida tropical) alternating with images of hands, fruit and vegetables (reflecting the area's history as a produce center.)

It was Fry who recommended sculptor Eric Higgs for the Whole Foods project. A feng shui expert told the developers a fountain should be placed at the store's entrance. So Higgs produced a three-part work incorporating a water feature. The three elements are carved from basalt, a black volcanic rock formed 16 million years ago from over 300 lava flows. (The stones came from the Columbia River basin in Eastern Washington State, where Higgs lived before moving to Florida.) The flows cooled and cracked into six-sided columns. Water and minerals that seeped through the fissures between the columns created the skin colors of brown you can see on the sculpture. The stone is so hard it can only be cut with blades and polishing papers made of diamonds. Higgs learned the carving techniques assisting Kazutaka Uchida on a project in Japan. Uchida, in turn, was mentored by Isamu Noguchi.

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