Desiree Does Drama
Hip Pineapple Avenue, also known as SOMA (south of Main), has another new art gallery. Christine Desiree has converted her interior design studio to Desiree-Snyder Contemporary Art. Expect to see work by emerging international artists, especially young artists from Latin America; but in February, Desiree will feature her own dramatic hanging sculptures, a sublime combination of Calder-style mobiles and mod '60s-style steel shapes. The show runs Feb. 7-March 3. 556 S. Pineapple Ave., (941) 363-0300.
Tea 'N' Teak
When Ibby Kanchanawat came to Sarasota to drop off her tennis- playing son at IMG/Bollettieri, she fell in love with the sun and the sand that reminded her of her native Thailand. In 2003, she moved here, and last year opened the first Lister teak showroom in America on the South Trail. (The Thailand-based company is the pre-eminent leader in teak furniture.) Now she's branching out with the Lister Café in the courtyard of IOptics of Burns Court. The courtyard café has the look of a tropical lounge decorated with the Kaat Collection, a new Lister line that's both modern and tropical. It serves as an oasis for shoppers and Burns Court cinema-goers, and is also available for private events. IOptics Courtyard, 446 Burns Court, (941) 955-5133.
G.WIZ excels at involving children in the act of creation. Its next exhibit, Building Blocks, will ask local architects to re-create famous works of architecture with blocks. Then kids will re-create the same works with building blocks, and the results will become a permanent exhibit. Ten teams of local architects will be hard at work on Saturday, Feb. 12, with a Block Party following that evening. The exhibit is developed in association with the Sarasota Architectural Foundation and the AIA Gulfcoast Chapter. 1001 Boulevard of the Arts, (941) 309-GWIZ.
New Year's Pei
As the first museum in the southeastern United States exclusively devoted to Asian art, Sarasota's beautiful and serene Asian Art Museum maintains a good collection of art and antiquities, primarily from China and Southeast Asia, as well as some replicas of famous pieces. Now the museum is branching into the architectural heritage of China. At its annual Chinese New Year Gala at the Ritz on Feb. 18, architect Chien Chung Pei, the son of I.M. Pei, will lecture on the Pei architectural heritage. An exhibit featuring the works of Chien Chung, brother Li Chung and their famous father will accompany the event. 640 Washington Blvd., (941) 954-7117.
If one resort recaptures the spirit of the lost Florida of days gone past, it's Little Palm Island on Little Torch Key, near Key West. A Venice-style launch takes you to the island, where your concierge meets you and walks you to your private villa. Highlights include a killer destination restaurant with arguably the best views in America and a 20-minute boat ride out to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary for fantastic diving. Watersports are free of charge, but that's about it. You never sign for anything-they just know who you are-but check-out is not for the faint of wallet, as the average visitor spends $1,000 a day. 28500 Overseas Highway, Little Torch Key, 1-800-3-GET-LOST.