Whether you’re an art buff or occasional admirer, this creative Florida city puts culture in the frame.
Dubbed Florida’s Cultural Coast, Sarasota is packed with enough art galleries, museums and cultural events to fill your calendar every day of the week. Home to the Ringling College of Art & Design, one of the state’s top art schools, the city’s collection of must-see spots runs from the Ringling Museum of Art to glitzy fine-art galleries. Here’s how to go high-brow in the Sunshine State.
Founded by Marietta Lee, a local artist and a graduate of the Ringling College of Art & Design, the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy is exactly what its name implies. It’s only open from November through May, and houses light-hearted paintings, sculptures and stained-glass art. There’s also an outdoor garden with canopied oaks, giant pink flamingos, a dancing ballerina and even a stainless steel rocket ship – almost all of which are made by women.
Alexis Fraser, a local known as Lipstick Lex, isn’t your typical artist. Her medium of choice is lipstick, and her colorful contemporary art is made with layers of her own kisses. In every piece she creates, there are messages of self-love, beauty and empowerment. Just outside downtown Sarasota, the Lipstick Lex Gallery regularly hosts live music, poetry slams, comedians, lipstick-art workshops and fashion events.
Taking over the 1927-built Sarasota High School building, Sarasota Art Museum is Sarasota’s first contemporary-only art museum. Unveiled in 2019, it has a tree-lined courtyard at the entrance with two sculptural installations: Celadon Landscape by Jean Shin and Zen Jail by J Patrick Walsh III. Don’t miss the Tower Gallery with larger-than-life paintings and sculptures under cathedral-like ceilings, or local photographer Barbara Banks’ The Worker Project, which documents the construction of the museum with portraits of every worker and artisan who helped bring it to life.
Opened in 1983, Chasen Galleries is a fine art gallery with works by more than 140 contemporary artists, sculptors and glass artisans, with a mix of big names on the art circuit and newcomers, too. Carol Milne’s knitted-glass sculptures are always a favorite here. Chasen Galleries now has three locations in Sarasota and has art for all budgets and interests.
This unique art gallery is a must-see for its unconventional collection. It’s the only gallery in America that displays Italian artist and pianist Massimo Meda’s 3D-fluorescent paintings, concrete Medablocks and stainless-steel furniture. It has its own in-residence Italian artist, Fabio Dal Boni, who paints award-winning fine art photography on aluminium and canvas. AlexArt International also occupies a 1948-built building that was once home to Morrison’s Cafeteria, a favorite of Elvis Presley.