Name: Dwight Currie
Title: Associate Director, Performance Programs
Education: Bachelor of Arts- English from Iowa State University
How does an Iowa farm boy end up as a curator at a museum in Sarasota?
Dwight Currie: Step one is that you leave Iowa and take life’s journey. The next step for me was to go to New York. You leave Iowa to head for excitement and New York. Then you leave New York for New England, for maybe a little less excitement. And then you leave New England for Florida to get out of the cold.
Every step of the way you find a place, like The Ringling, where you can do the types of things that you like to do and you can work with the type of people who you like to work with.
You mentioned New York as exciting- what was exciting and inspiring about it for you?
DC: Compared to Iowa? There are people who love the Midwest. I am not one of them. Not that I have anything against it either. I just knew that the types of things that I wanted to do, and that was primarily the arts—music and theater. You go to where you are going to find the best of that. And that’s where in my mind that it is. There is no other city in this country like New York and if you wanted a life in the world of professional arts that is where you went.
It also takes an incredible amount of energy, courage and stick-to-itiveness to stay there. At least it did for me. And you realize that there are other places where you can live the same kind of life. Although I don’t think that Iowa is one—yet.
How long have you been in Sarasota?
DC: Since 2001.
Outside of The Ringling what do you enjoy about the market?
DC: Sarasota has great restaurants. And I love just hanging out in downtown Sarasota. I think (Selby) the library is a great library. The sidewalk life in Sarasota is interesting. A Parker Books’s, the used bookstore, is great. It is great to poke around Parker’s for an hour in the afternoon.
I am not a beach person, but places like Oscar Scherer (State Park) and places like the( T. Mabry) Carlton Reserve in south county are some wonderful natural areas that you can go to.
Beyond Sarasota’s obvious charms, which would be its culture and art organizations there is a way of living here. A way of being out in the public and out in nature that’s very attractive.
If you were not a Curator at The Ringling, what would you see yourself doing?
DC: I would like to go back to writing. That is what I was doing before I came down here.
What types of things were you writing?
DC: I had had some success as a short-form essayist. I was published with Harper’s. I was also ghostwriting at the time, which was something I really enjoyed. I liked ghostwriting—some fiction, but please don’t ask for who. That’s the point of ghostwriting.
What’s your favorite thing about The Ringling?
DC: It’s the very unlikely-ness of the place. Two people, one from Iowa, John Ringling and his wife, really from rural American poverty become phenomenally wealthy and then built a museum in the most unlikely place imaginable.
When they were building this museum there was no museum in the United States south of Washington D.C. And they create this big, pink Italian palace and fill it with masterpieces where there used to be a swamp. And years later Chick Austin arrives, and the unlikelihood of someone bringing in a palace theater (The Historic Asolo), which brings in a theater company, an opera company and a ballet company.
This unlikely place continues to reinvent itself. The Ringling now brings in exhibitions like R. Luke DuBois and an arts festival of new and emerging artists.
It is great to work in a place created by somebody who lived his life that large. And when The Ringling is at its best it is living large and thinking in big theatrical terms. The Big Show: big, bold, daring, unapologetic and unlikely. The Ringling is a “why not” kind of place.