Last Friday night offered up two delicious morsels of creative output from Sarasota's young artists: SartQ's “Avante-Garden” and third-year Ringling student Darcy Little's first show, “Grand Arena” at Ringling's Crosley Gallery.
Arriving first at Avante-Garden, I was delighted to see the outpouring of support and enthusiasm for the work of this talented and dynamic team of contemporary local artists including Tim Jaeger, Jen Nugent, Daniel Perales, and Brian Haverlock.
The show was so packed that I was only able to see the artwork in brief squeezes-by. What I managed to see was impressive: dynamic paintings and sculpture inspired by the artful botanics at Selby Gardens.
It was late by the time we finished mingling and headed Darcy's show. This turned out to be the perfect time to show up.
Crowd and snacks were gone, but the most important ingredients were there, at our full disposal: the art--blissfully open to viewing without fear of blocking or being blocked by other human beings--and Darcy Little, the artist—exhausted but still beaming from the triumph of her first-ever solo show. Darcy graciously took the time to walk us around and tell us the story of her art.
[Brief disclaimer: I am not an art critic! As a working artist and community-builder, I enjoy seeing what other artists create and I'm interested in how art, its creation and its commerce influence our community. That is the place from which I write.]
Darcy's “Grand Arena” artwork is indeed “grand.” Large in scale, bold strokes of ink and color depicting playful, intriguing scenes and subjects, it is created with a mixture of ink, oil, and acrylic paint on large papers sheets that hang un-framed on the gallery walls. Each piece holds a story, from a short vignette (such as the dog-like figure beneath the words “I know your birthday”) to a more complex and involved story-line that draws the viewer in to wonder on colors, characters and their relationships.
Spurred by Darcy's descriptions to greater curiosity, I caught up with her yesterday for a brief phone interview:
April: You shared with me that this was your first show. What got you to the point of doing your own show?
Darcy: Last summer I was thinking about what it would be like to have my own show. Then, last semester I got a message from the gallery directors that there were extra time slots available at the Crosley Gallery. I was one of the first to sending the application, proposal, deposit and all that. I just jumped right into the opportunity.
Were you happy with how it turned out?
It was better than I could have imagined. We got a lot of turnout, got to meet a lot of new people. I was able to execute some last minute plans and got to try out some things I haven't seen in a Crosley show before. We Projected Grand Arena logo on the side the gallery to help people find it better. I got to sell quite a lot of prints, and a few people were interested in buying some pieces. I cant wait to see where it goes from here.
I read in the Art Whisperer's article that you created the artwork in a fort on the Ringling campus. Where did you get the idea to do it in a fort?
I was going in a whole new direction and I wanted to surprise people. By doing it in a fort, it would be in peoples' faces and secret at the same.
What is the idea behind this series of pieces?
Basically, for these pieces the purpose is to immerse the viewer—the pieces are big, so you feel like you're in it. [It places the viewer] into a surreal environment or situation in which the subject is able to get away with anything.
Where do you plan to go from here?
I'm going in a new direction. I'm going to stick with the technique for now, but go into portraiture after this.
What advice would you give to an artist who's thinking about having a show?
It's never too early to plan stuff out. Keep your health in check so you don't go crazy. If you feel like you should have a lot of fun in your show, go ahead and do it. In my show, I knew the pieces wouldn't lend selves to a quiet affair so I just threw a party. I had a movie playing, had balloons all over the floor, food, drink and music—little things like that.
Do you plan to stay in Sarasota when you graduate? And, how do you feel about Sarasota as a place for an artist to develop their career?
I actually plan on staying here after I graduate. I really love sarasota right now. It seems to have all the right people, really good people. I've made some good connections at Ringling.
You're originally from out own town, right? Was it Tennessee?
Close—I'm originally from Kentucky.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I thought of some more advice for artists: Stay confident in yourself or people might lose faith in you. Feel confident in yourself and others will follow. That's actually something I learned from Van [Jazmin].
I'm learning that from Van too. Thank you so much Darcy for talking with me. I look forward to seeing what you create next!
Thank you for the interview!
As a memento from the evening, I picked up a highly affordable ($5) print of one of my favorite pieces -- "Donut Shop." (It brings back fond memories of a donut shop from my own childhood.)To learn more about Darcy's work, including prices on works and prints, visit
Also, be sure to check out SartQ's works on display at "Avante Garden," which will be on display until February 20.
All photos by Van Jazmin unless otherwise noted.