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Sarasota Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2022 8 months ago

He’s back — and still marooned

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Sarasota and internationally known artist Jorge Blanco has returned to the Observer opinion page by way of his clever little character The Castaway.
by: Matt Walsh CEO

He’s back! Woo-hoo!

The Castaway is back!

After a too-long hiatus, Sarasota and internationally known artist Jorge Blanco has returned to the Opinion pages of the Longboat, Sarasota and Siesta Key Observers by way of his clever little character The Castaway.

Many of our longtime Observer readers might remember The Castaway. He appeared weekly on our Opinion page from July 2011 until January 2015. The latter date was when we introduced a new design in the Observers and took a breather from Blanco — hoping the Castaway might be rescued from his island.

But lo and behold, and to our and our readers’ good fortune, Blanco’s Castaway is still marooned by himself on his tiny tropical island. And our readers will get to see his whimsical antics twice a month.

We love the way Blanco explains the concept behind The Castaway:

“Everyone needs an escape,” Blanco tells us. “The Castaway is an expression of a yearning for solitude that we might all feel, the urge to escape and take refuge alone, in a quiet imaginary place where Mother Nature will watch over us.

“To tell this solitary story, I work with simple lines and no words, trying to convey that even without belongings (such as clothing), through the power of our thoughts and imagination, we can create a beautiful environment, much like the fantasy tropical island, surrounded by an immense warm ocean of dreams where The Castaway lives and thrives.”

The Castaway, in fact, embodies seven characteristics that Blanco applies to almost all of his art and sculptures. They are:

  • Original
  • Universal
  • No language
  • Minimalist
  • No political reference
  • No religious reference
  • Refined humor

The last one is the best: Blanco’s refined humor. We’ll guarantee you the humor in The Castaway will make you smile every time you see the  strip and, indeed, allow you to escape, even if it’s for a brief moment. Blanco’s imagination is indeed extraordinarily clever.

But this is also true: The Castaway and all of Blanco’s sculptures and art are a reflection of Blanco himself — his kind and cheerful disposition. Even in person, he always makes you smile.

An American born in Venezuela in 1945, Blanco emigrated to the United States in 1999. By then, he was well known in international art circles for his distinctive style. His biography provides an apt description of Blanco’s unique style:

“His art values a positive lifestyle, creating soaring testaments to the optimism of everyday life … His work embraces scale, landscape, urbanism and technology. In a singular fashion, his art, with its striking colors and impressive scale, imbues the surrounding landscape, architecture and social context with an unforgettable joyful aura.

“Look closely at his subtle and distinctly personal visual lexicon, and you will spot the influence of Alexander Calder, Paul Klee and Joan Miró, the Italian Futurists like Fortunato Depero, among others. Yet there is nothing derivative about Blanco’s emblematic abstractions.

“By using geometric forms, Blanco  emphasizes planes in his minimalist creations. His background as an industrial designer can be seen in his use of hardware as intrinsic parts of this sculptures.”

Blanco’s largest body of work is in the United States. He has 25 permanent sculptures in urban spaces in the United States, four in Tokyo, Japan, and one in Caracas, Venezuela. His work is also in private collections in the United States, South America, Europe and Asia.

In Sarasota, two of Blanco’s characteristic sculptures are part of downtown: “The Runners,” the yellow sculptures in the median on North Tamiami Trail just north of Boulevard of the Arts, and “Bravo!” the sculpture at the Ringling Boulevard and Orange Avenue.

Says Blanco: “Art is a form of communication. Through my work, I want to inspire people to be more active and joyful. I want people to smile.”

He does a great job of that. We hope you enjoy The Castaway as much as we do.

Welcome back, Jorge.

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