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Art and About: Area art is back!

Things still might look a little different, but as we have learned, art will find a way. Here are selections to enjoy in the upcoming months.

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The infamous 2020 is almost over. Whew. Thanks to a certain virus, our area arts community and audiences endured a silent spring, a bummer summer and a fallen fall. Is this the winter of discontent for creative expression? Not quite. Our arts leaders rallied to the challenge. In the months of forced downtime, they have adapted, adopted, pivoted and planned ahead. As winter begins, they are slowly but surely doing all they can to fill up our senses with beautiful music and compelling imagery. Art is coming back. And here’s some of what you’ll find.

Shine a Light on the Holidays. Choral Artists of Sarasota’s “Holiday Lights” celebrates light — a symbol of hope and peace. Ariel Ramírez’s “Navidad Nuestra” is the heart of the program, a work that illuminates the Christmas story through the eyes of Argentina’s indigenous people. This virtual concert features the voices of stunning tenor Rafael Dávila and the Choral Artists. Artistic Director Joseph Holt will delve into the music in a “Concert Insight” talk at 10 a.m. Dec. 10. The online concert takes place 4 p.m. Dec. 23.; 941-387-4900.

Do the Kabuki. Kabuki actors were Japanese superstars in the popular art form’s heyday. Visual artists cashed in on that popularity with mass-produced, woodblock prints of those performers. Their yakusha-e portraits became highly popular in the mid-1800s — and set the pattern for manga and anime art in the years to come. “Kabuki Modern” at The Ringling showcases portraits of Kabuki performers painted by significant Japanese artists from 1868 through the 1950s. Drawing on the museum’s archive and loans from area collectors, the pieces evoke Kabuki’s expressive dynamism and reveal how the style absorbed Western influences over the decades. Highlights include Toyohara Kunichika’s “One Hundred Roles of Baik” (1893) and Shin’ei’s haunting “Onoe Baik VI as Oiwa” (1926), capturing Baik VI’s portrayal of the horrifying heroine of Tkaid’s ghost story. Through June 27.; 941-359-5700.

Anna Deavere Smith’s “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” grapples with a topic that seemingly defies human understanding: “The Rodney King Incident.” Those four innocuous words fall short of the brutal reality. In 1991, a protracted police beating of a helpless Black man was captured on videotape. In 1992, six days of deadly riots erupted in Los Angeles when a jury refused to convict any of the LAPD assailants. The one-two punch of “The Rodney King Incident” touched the lives of thousands of ordinary people, both guilty and innocent. It also formed a microcosm for centuries of systemic racism. To do justice to this massive topic, Smith conducted hundreds of interviews then distilled them into a powerful drama. Her work was originally an acclaimed one-person play. It will now be performed by the Asolo Conservatory’s entire company of second-year actors, along with alumni from remote locations across the nation. Available for streaming Dec. 2-13.; 941-351-9010.

Walk the Art. Billboards are usually eyesores. But the billboard-sized art you’ll find at Sarasota’s Island Park is a sight for sore eyes. You’re looking at Embracing Our Differences’ annual outdoor exhibit, a celebration of diversity honoring the spectrum of the human family. The 50 gargantuan images of the 2021 exhibition were created by professional and student artists both locally and around the world. Each is also accompanied by an inspirational quote. It’s a powerful outdoor art show, but there’s more than meets the eye. It’s the heart of a year-round educational program using the power of art to promote peace, love and understanding. Jan. 20 to April 1 at Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota.; 941-404-5710.

Masters of Jazz. Jazz lovers can break their musical fast with Dick Hyman and the Florida Jazz Masters. This scintillating live, outdoor concert happens at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 6 on the great lawn of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The jazz masters in question are six of Florida’s finest, including the legendary Dick Hyman. The music includes compositions by Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Dick Hyman, Thelonius Monk, Cole Porter, Randy Sandke, Mike Treni and Harry Warren. Expect an eclectic musical feast spanning the spectrum of jazz from straight-ahead to swing to be-bop. Our Florida jazz masters definitely know the score.; 941-306-1202.


And Don’t Miss …

ASALH Black Muse: 2021 Group Exhibition is a virtual exhibition of art by Black artists from around Florida. Each season, the Manasota Chapter of ASALH: The Association for the Study of African American Life and History works in partnership with Art Center Sarasota to highlight and exhibit the work inspired by the African diaspora’s culture, lives and history. This exhibit is co-sponsored by Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative Inc. Jan. 28 to March 2 at Art Center Sarasota.; 941-365-2032. 

Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens. This five-part outdoor series features performances and talks by Hermitage artists in residence and alumni. The next performance is 5:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ downtown campus. (Featured talent to be announced.)

Pianist Emanuel Ax. Ever since winning the first Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in 1974, Emanuel Ax has established himself as a preeminent recitalist, chamber musician, guest soloist with orchestras and, above all, consummate musician. As part of the Sarasota Concert Association’s 2021 Great Performers Series, the esteemed artist will grace the Van Wezel stage March 16.;


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