The diverse artist collective returns after a three-year hiatus with a fresh lineup, a debut show and a new vision for the Sarasota arts scene.
Local artists Tim Jaeger and Joseph Arnegger started SARTQ in 2008 as a casual visual artist forum in which artists could get together and discuss their latest work.
At the time, local arts organizations were losing state funding, and private galleries were closing amid the recession.
So SARTQ took on the mission of showing artists’ work.
“Our mission was to stay in Sarasota,” says Jaeger. “What happened was, you had a lot of artists without places to exhibit their works. It was a bit of a collective agreement among the group that we all got together and decided to create these temporary exhibitions in multiple venues while also providing education and outreach programming to the community.”
What started out as 12 artists grew to around 30 with members joining and leaving at various points. And as the economy and art community began to stabilize and members became more active in other arenas of their life, the group took a hiatus.
But as the economy and art community stabilized and members became more active in other arenas of their life, the group took a hiatus.
Now, Jaeger and 15 other artists are set to relaunch SARTQ as a permanent fixture in the Sarasota arts community. The first salvo in this artistic commune is show aptly titled “Here and Now” running from Aug. 14 through Aug. 29 at the State of the Arts Gallery’s gallery C space. And though it presents works by 16 individual artists members say the group gels artistically.
“With that many people with such strong sensibilities and individuality, it’s very possible that it could not work,” says Andrew Long, SARTQ member, who focuses mostly on ceramic art.
“We seem to mesh very well and work together,” he said. “The fact that we can all work together and orchestrate events like this together is pretty phenomenal.”
Others are looking for a shared artistic community.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Rodriguez moved to the East Coast of Florida in 1999 and moved to Sarasota soon after to study at the Ringling College of Art and Design. After he graduated, he decided to stay in Sarasota with his wife and son. But even though he was working, he felt something was missing after he left Ringling College.
“After college, you feel like you’ve been abandoned unless you have good people representing you or other artists and educators that you can go back and forth with and help you and guide you,” Rodriguez said. “Everything is new, and it’s hard once you face reality.”
Membership within this corps of artists is always open for new enrollees, but it’s not just a social club.
Entry is open at sartq.org to any working artist who lives in Sarasota or Manatee counties. The membership committee then judges the applicant’s artistic portfolio and status within the community and decides whether to admit the artist.
Each member must either pay annual membership dues of $250 or volunteer for the organization for 25 hours over the course of the year. Members are encouraged to participate in all exhibitions. They must participate in all fundraising events and exhibit with the group or as an individual in the community at least once a year.
In addition, members must spend 10 hours volunteering on at least one of the organization’s committees.
After “Here and Now” closes, the collective will begin a two-month residency at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, where each artist will receive studio space.
The residency will culminate in the exhibit “Key Influence” (Sept. 26 through Oct. 31) which will show art lovers each member’s process.
After that, the collective will work on a show titled “Green” that focuses on the color at the Englewood Art Center.
Eventually, Jaeger and other artists hope to raise enough money through such shows and fundraisers — like the successful print-making party the group held in March — to establish a physical location that could be used not only as an exhibition and meeting place, but also as a center for arts education and community forums.
“In essence, we’re all learning from each other and seeing how communication works in a group of artists,” says Cassia Kite, a member artist. “We’re providing for the things that we love as individuals, bringing them together and giving them to the community.”