The front door of the Ringling complex that houses the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Cà d’Zan, the Historic Asolo Theater, the Circus Museum, Education Center and bayfront gardens is about to receive a major remodel.
Longboat Key residents Philip and Nancy Kotler and Bird Key residents Warren and Margot Coville, who have been longtime contributors to the art museum and Florida State University, have collaborated to provide two major gifts to create the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion. The pavilion is projected to open in fall 2017 and will act not only as a new formal entrance to the Ringling facility but also be a permanent gallery for studio glass art. The Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion project was also made possible by assistance and cooperation from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.
“This is a dream come true for us,” says Nancy Kotler. “We’ve always wanted the public to have access to this relatively unknown glass work.”
Construction of the pavilion will cost approximately $5 million, according to Steven High, executive director of the Ringling. He said that the rest of the year will be spent searching for a lead architect and designer for the pavilion project, which will begin in January or February 2016.
“These highly respected families — the Kotlers and the Covilles — have worked for decades supporting artists and the organizations that collect and present art to the public,” says High. “We are grateful that they entrusted their collections, their financial support and their names to us.”
The work that will be on display at the pavilion will come from the respective families’ personal glass collections, totaling 250 to 300 pieces. Previously, the Philip and Nancy Kotler Glass Collection was displayed from November 2013 to June 2014 at the museum. The Covilles donated a collection of photography to the museum in 2012.
“Glass is gaining more and more exposure,” says Carol Camiener, manager of the Southwest Florida Glass Art Alliance and Ringling College of Art and Design Board of Trustees member. “There are more than three major collections in this area, the Coville, Kotler and Basch collections, and we’re just lucky for these people to settle and want to put their collections in Sarasota.”
According to Camiener, even though studio glass art is a fairly new branch of the art world, its popularity and artistic credibility is rising. More and more museums are adding glass art to their permanent collections, she says. The Southwest Florida Glass Art Alliance, which covers Tampa to Naples, has approximately 100 individual members — and is growing. And with the Kotler/Coville gift as well as Richard and Barbara Baschses’ $3 million gift announced in November to the Ringling College of Art and Design, which includes a glass hot shop, the future of glass art in Sarasota is bright and vibrant.
“I feel extremely lucky that we have this opportunity to show our glass to the community,” says Margot Coville.
The gift that keeps on giving
In addition to the revitalized entrance of the Ringling and new pavilion for contemporary glass art, the Kotlers’ and Covilles’ gift will also upgrade the Historic Asolo Theater. Planned additions include a new rehearsal room for visiting performers as well as a concession area in the new lobby and reception area on the second floor for future theater patrons. This will allow the Ringling to expand on its increased interest in and dedication to performance art.