Brenda Terris is expecting her first Sarasota Season of Sculpture delivery. It’s 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, and the truck, which left New Jersey 17 hours ago, could turn onto Gulfstream Avenue any minute now.
The anticipation, says Terris, the organization’s executive director, is thrilling, even if this year’s exhibit lacks a giant aluminum tooth and 12 upright clunkers.
“Not to take away from previous seasons,” says Terris, “but this season is different. The sculptures are more subdued. The curation process, the whole feel is different. It’s not the bright-colored kitschy stuff people are used to seeing. The shock factor has been replaced with a quality factor.”
In other words, there will be fewer drivers rubbernecking coming off the Ringling Bridge.
A quiet departure from 2007’s cheeky bayfront display, “Organic Lyricism” is a cohesive collection of mostly abstract cast-bronze sculptures shaped by artists from all over the world.
Handpicked by Paula Stoeke, director and curator for The Sculpture Foundation, which owns and runs Grounds for Sculpture, a 35-acre sculpture park in Hamilton, N.J., founded by “Unconditional Surrender” artist J. Seward Johnson, “Organic Lyricism” is Season of Sculpture’s fifth public art display in 10 years.
Stoeke’s picks for the bayfront include a dozen sculptures by artists Magdelena Abakanowicz, Larry Bell, Andrew Rutsch and Andrew Rogers, all regarded for their primitive, expressive forms and attention to light, space and nature.
In the grass below One Sarasota Tower, where Dustin Shuler’s cars were erected two years ago, will be artist Emilie Benes Brzezinski’s “Lintel,” a 12-foot arch sculpted from the trunks of cherry trees and cast in bronze.
“Lintel” is one of several pieces that that will get site-specific landscaping. Turner Tree and Landscape, a Bradenton-based landscaping company, has offered to build small hills and mounds of vegetation for free so that this year’s sculptures will look more natural and lived-in.
“We wanted this year’s exhibit to have a peaceful feeling not a controversial one,” Terris says.
And, much to her delight, the understatement is working. The assortment of Zen-like art is making waves by not making waves. Local artists and patrons who were turned off by previous exhibits have embraced this year’s selection. Sarasota artist Virginia Hoffman, one of Season of Sculpture’s most vocal critics, gave the exhibit two thumbs up earlier this year while accompanying Terris on a tour of Seward’s sculpture park.
Season five, says Hoffman, “has an actual theme with a curator’s touch and a welcomed absence of whimsy.”
For the first time in two years, Terris can safely assume Season of Sculpture won’t offend anyone, a fact that’s helped her double the organization’s board of directors.
Wendy Gingerich, a Sarasota native and 2008 graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design, joined the board in August. At 29, Gingerich is the nonprofit’s youngest and newest board member.
“One of the things I liked about this year’s art is that it’s open to personal interpretation,” Gingerich says.
“People can look at them and come to their own conclusions and create their own sensations.”
Terris hopes that by expanding her board she can help close the organization’s fundraising gap. The more people invested in public art, the better the outreach. With only half the season paid for, Terris has had to fundraise year-round.
“People are more thoughtful now about how they spend money,” Terris says. “They’re becoming more introspective. They’re learning from aspects of their past and moving forward to create a better future.”
Which begs the question: What has Season of Sculpture learned from its past?
Terris lets out a long sigh and pauses for a while to find the right answer.
“That a small fledging arts organization can grow even in times of economic difficulty,” she says. “That when it matters, people band together.”
if you go
“Organic Lyricism” will be unveiled at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, on the Sarasota bayfront. Fuzión Dance Artists, in collaboration with local musicians, will perform a series of interpretative dances in front of the sculptures as each is revealed. The event is free and will start on the south end of the bayfront near Selby Gardens and move north across the park. Donations will be accepted.
For more information, visit www.sarasotaseasonofsculpture.org. or call 366-7767.