The visual art party has started again. Missed your invitation? No sweat. The party is still going on.
Area art museums and art groups are once again exhibiting in the real world – and not just virtually. They started this spring, and plan to keep it up as long as possible. Here’s a sneak peak at what they’ve planned for the rest of 2021. See these exhibits while you can, and don’t procrastinate.
“Hard Bodies: Contemporary Japanese Lacquer Sculpture.” Lacquer is an all-natural polymer. East Asian artists have created with it since Neolithic times, and Western minds tend to file their work in the “traditional Asian art” folder. This traveling exhibit from the Minneapolis Institute of Art shatters that cliché. It features 16 contemporary Japanese artists playing post-modern tricks with this ancient medium. You’ll see 30 lacquer sculptures – and you’ve never seen anything like it. Human and animal figures melt into jet-black, abstract blobs. Lifelike snails crawl up stylized vases. A glittering, bejeweled idol depicts a cute, cartoony bear. It’s the art of untamed imagination. That’s all you’ll see here. With no traditions in sight. Oct. 15-Jan. 21; Museum of Art, Searing Wing. 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota; 359-5700; ringling.org.
“Rhodnie Désir: Conversations.” Désir is an African-American dancer and choreographer. Her multimedia installation at The Ringling illustrates a cruel chapter of twisted history. She shows you that white slavers periodically forced their Black captives to dance on the decks of their ships. Not for the slaves’ amusement, of course. Dance was the slavers’ cynical ploy to keep their human cargo healthy enough to sell. Dance as exploitation. Dance drained of joy. Désir uses video, light, paper sculpture and sound to reveal (and make you feel) the impact this had (and still has) on the culture of the African diaspora. Nov. 14-April 3; Museum of Art, Monda Gallery. 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota; 359-5700; ringling.org.
Art Center Sarasota
“Art Venti: Probable Realities.” Imagine, if you will, the Twilight Zone between abstraction and representation. Art Venti thrives in that artistic no man’s land. His paintings are abstract forms. They’re also realistic representations of objects in space. (Trade secret: Venti crumples sheets of colored paper, arranges them on a lightbox, and then paints what he sees.) These surreal, otherworldly vistas are the result. Venti lives in these “Probable Realities.” His paintings invite you to visit. Through Oct. 2 at Art Center Sarasota, 707 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 365-2032; artsarasota.org
Ringling College of Art and Design
“POW! The Comic Art of Mike Zeck.” Leonardo da Vinci painted Mona Lisa; Hans Holbein captured a portrait of King Henry VIII. Not too shabby. But Mike Zeck’s artistic subjects include Captain America, The Hulk, The Punisher and Spider Man. In the world of comic book artists, Zeck is a certified maestro. (A Marvel maestro, currently. But he’s also worked for DC.) This exhibition showcases Zeck’s super-powered cover art. His work is brilliant and bold – with no clever, arty gimmicks. This Ringling College graduate is the John Ford of comic book artists. Zeck serves the story first and doesn’t try to impress you. But he does anyway. ’Nuff said. Oct. 18-Dec. 10 at RCAD Stulberg Gallery, 1188 MLK Way, Sarasota; 359-7563; ringling.edu/galleries.
Selby Gardens / Historic Spanish Point
“Seeing the Invisible.” That sounds mystical, but it’s actually digital. We’re talking augmented reality (AR). In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a quick definition: Virtual reality (VR) only exists in computer screens and goggles. It’s a purely digital realm, divorced from objective reality. AR is more of a marriage than a divorce. It superimposes digital imagery on the real world – and that’s what you’ll see here. This AR exhibit showcases bleeding-edge work by 12 major artists, including Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui and Pamela Rosenkranz. Their AR artistry will overlap the reality of the Historic Spanish Point campus (and 11 other botanical gardens around the planet). The experience is user-friendly. No I.T. degree required. Just hold up your smartphone or tablet. The screen becomes a magic window where dream and reality intertwine. Crystals wrap around trees, bromeliads reveal doors to other dimensions. Thanks to AR tech, you’ll see the artists’ inner visions. And that’s pretty cool. Sept. 25-Aug. 2022 at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Historic Spanish Point campus, 337 North Tamiami Trail, Osprey; selby.org/hsp/visit-historic-spanish-point.
Sarasota Art Museum
“Judith Linhares: The Artist as Curator.” Indigenous cultures around the world see dreams as a doorway to creative insights the mind can’t grasp in the harsh light of day. Australia’s indigenous peoples speak of the power and revelations of “Dreamtime.” Linhares’ art draws from the same creative well. The archetypal visions of her paintings flows from her dream journals. Those visions transcend mundane daily experience – including the solitary sense of self. No man (or woman) is an island in Linhares’ paintings. Her dreamy art reveals the greater continent of human connection. She paints a very clear picture of what binds us together. Linhares’ artistic commitment is equally selfless – and extends far beyond her tiny island of ego. Linhares hit her artistic stride in the San Francisco Bay area. She’s a celebrated artist in that community. But Linhares is also famous for empowering other Bay area artists. Along with Linhares’ art, this exhibition will showcase work by five of the creators she’s curated. They’re powerful dreamers, too. Nov. 26-April 2 at Sarasota Art Museum, 1001 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; sarasotaartmuseum.org.