Sarasota's 10 Best Art Adventures

By staff May 1, 2005

SUITE SOIREE. The enterprising Artist Series of Sarasota brings a mix of concerts featuring light opera, piano duets and more to town. Our favorite: Evenings Around the Steinway (concerts held at private homes, sometimes including champagne and dessert), which have attracted a devoted following, as have the five-concert Recital Series and the light-hearted Themes and Variations (both held at Holley Hall in the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center). Informal and excellent. Ticket proceeds also help fund scholarships. (941) 388-1188.

BY DESIGN. The American Institute of Architects' 10 x 10 series gives 10 local creative spirits 10 minutes each to show and discuss 10 slides of subjects that have influenced their work. A fun and inspiring mix that speaks to the designer in all of us, 10 x 10 stirs the pot and excites the mind. Held at the end of January, April, July and October. (941) 362-9786.

SEE FOR YOURSELF. Art historian and curator Mark Ormond's new series, "Looking at Art: Quality, Taste, Beauty & Importance," will help you do just that. From the Renaissance to the present, Ormond examines what makes for a significant work of art. Ormond is known for making art accessible and exciting; expect lively commentary and images by the dozen. At the Education Center on Longboat Key. 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. (941) 383-8811.

FUTURE GREATS. Nobody isn't dazzled by the quality of Booker High's Visual & Performing Arts Center performances, and you may even see some stars in the making. Among program grads: Bill Corso, an Oscar-winner for Best Make-up for Lemony Snicket, Sarah Glendening (now onstage in Broadway's Good Vibrations), Darren Ritchie (Broadway's Little Shop of Horrors and Les Miz), Sara Inbar (who got a role in Mamma Mia at her first audition). High art for the price of a high-school play ticket. (941) 355-2967.

STAR TREK. Set sail with fellow film buffs on the Sarasota Film Festival cruise to Cannes this month. Fine films, great parties and star sightings galore, including from a rooftop party overlooking the red carpet. You'll also tour Civitavecchia, Livorno and Portofino, and can take other side trips should you choose to extend your stay. Rates range from $3,695 to $7,285 (for a balcony suite); to learn if any cabins remain for the "Yes, you Cannes" cruise, call (941) 951-1801.

HEIGHT REPORT. Get a new perspective on Florida's flora and fauna with the Canopy Walk at Myakka River State Park. Stroll amid the treetops along suspended walks to a tower 74 feet above the ground (the perfect platform for a photo op), while guide Donna Krabill from Selby Gardens explains the science behind this ecosystem's delicate balance. $15. (941) 366-5731.

CLOWN AROUND. Ready for some serious fun? Circus Sarasota offers three-day clown workshops with professionals from all over the country. You'll learn the fine art of clowning, from stage presence and balloon sculpture to make-up and character development, then dazzle friends and family with a live performance. Proceeds from the course (which costs $200) benefit Circus Sarasota's human services program, Laughter Unlimited. Call Karen Bell, (941) 355-9335.

GLASS ACT. Don't be afraid to blow it at the Sarasota School of Glass. With 30 years of experience and an award from the Corning Glass Museum, Sue Kutno teaches fusing, glass beading, stained glass work and glass blowing. The small classes run from half a day to four days and cost from $150 to $600, including materials. And you come away with your own work of art: platter, paperweight, window or watch. 999 Cattlemen Road. (941) 371-5492.

FRESH AIRS. The 10-concert spring Garden Music series at Selby Gardens is a perfect pairing of culture and the great outdoors. The series includes classic guitar, bluegrass, Brazilian beats and Dixieland jazz. Performances are from 1 to 3 p.m. and are included in the regular admission price. Light refreshments available at Michael's in the Garden Café. 811 S. Palm Ave. (941) 366-5731.

CULTURE SHOCK. Stretch your boundaries at Pridefest 2005. Entertainers Vernessa Mitchell and Kim English-both hits with the club set-headline at the annual gay pride celebration May 29. This year, commemorative quilts remind us of the continued fight against AIDS, male and female impersonators lighten the mood, and vendors proffer products and services with an inclusive attitude. Information: Gary Halloran, (941) 809-6778.

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