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The Ringling Announces $500,000 Gift from Keith and Linda Monda

SARASOTA, Fla, Feb. 2, 2016—To honor the five-year anniversary of The Ringling’s initiative to present and commission new works by contemporary artists in the visual and performance fields, a $500,000 gift from Keith Monda, former President of Coach, Inc., and his wife, Linda, will support The Ringling’s Art of Our Time programming and name a new gallery of contemporary art. The prominent 2,400 square-foot gallery space in The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art will showcase exciting new projects by living artists whose work moves beyond traditional practice in the conceptualization, creation, and exhibition of visual and performative art. The Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery of Contemporary Art will open in the fall of 2016.                                                                                                           

“This visionary gift from Keith and Linda Monda is a profound investment in and endorsement of contemporary art at The Ringling and what we will increasingly become known for locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. As a dynamic university art museum built on an incredible legacy of global cultural history, The Ringling is dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and engaging with the art of our time through visual arts, performance, research and educational programs,” said Executive Director Steven High. “I would like to sincerely thank our friends at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation with whom our Senior Director for Development, Anna E. von Gehr, worked to facilitate this generous leadership support.”

“Linda and I are thrilled to be able to make this commitment to support The Ringling’s significant Art of Our Time initiative” said Keith Monda. “From exhibitions to performance, contemporary discourse has become ever more integral to The Ringling’s programmatic reputation for thoughtful risk-taking and remarkable discoveries.”

“We are especially pleased to be able to impact young people through this gift to assist in fostering a lively and enriching environment at The Ringling that allows them to experience the unexpected and find inspiration and motivation through contemporary art and culture,” continued Monda.

Keith Monda retired from Coach, Inc., in 2008 and the couple subsequently moved from New York to Sarasota, Fla. in 2011. Throughout their decades in New York, the Mondas followed and collected contemporary art, drawn to the evolving definitions of the field and its boundless possibilities.

“Ensuring vibrant, high-quality arts is critical to keeping our region competitive and continuing to welcome people of all ages. The Ringling's Art of Our Time program really sets Sarasota apart, and it rewards those of us who live here,” said Gulf Coast Community Foundation President and CEO Mark Pritchett. “This initiative provides the kind of impact and philanthropic leverage that our Board strongly endorses in the projects that Gulf Coast supports.”

“Keith and Linda's leadership and generous support of important organizations and causes in our community have made an amazing impact,” said Veronica Brady, Senior Vice President for Philanthropy, Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “This wonderful gift to The Ringling demonstrates their love of contemporary art and their ongoing commitment to make this region the best it can be.”

The Monda Gallery, an intentionally raw and flexible space carved out of the West Wing of  the Museum of Art, is one of four spaces that combined will total more than 9,500 square feet of gallery space devoted to 20th-and 21st-century works of art. This marks the first time that The Ringling will present modern and contemporary art on such a broad scale and on a permanent ongoing basis.

Other spaces at The Ringling to be dedicated to modern and contemporary art include reallocated galleries in the Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing, which will present rotating selections from The Ringling’s growing collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as the new Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion, set to open in the fall of 2017 which will house The Ringling’s collection of American and European studio art glass.

Core to its mission to serve as a forum for creative ideas and innovative partnerships, The Ringling’s Art of Our Time initiative supports and commissions contemporary artists across genres with  residencies  that include living accommodations on the grounds, access to scholars, students and educators, and materials as well as funding.

A site-specific work by American artist Anne Patterson will be the first project to be exhibited in the Monda Gallery. Following the success of her monumental 2013 installation, Graced with Light in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, Patterson will create a site-specific installation exploring the impact of choice and its influence on experience as visitors are invited to choose pathways as they wander through the gallery while experiencing light and soundscapes based on the artist’s own experience as a synesthete.”

“The Monda Gallery of Contemporary Art, with its high ceilings and industrial feel, is expressly designed to offer a blank slate for today’s most creative visual and time-based practitioners,” said Dr. Matthew McLendon, The Ringling’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “The Mondas’ extraordinary gift is a tremendous affirmation of our multiyear strategy to increase   The Ringling’s engagement with contemporary voices. I am so gratified that many more genre-defying 21st-century artists, often overlooked and outside the mainstream, will now have an even broader platform.”

The Ringling’s Art of Our Time initiative was launched five years ago in order to revitalize a program of contemporary art that began in the 1930s under the leadership of A. Everett “Chick” Austin Jr., The Ringling’s first director. The Ringling’s reimagined dialogue with contemporary art is one based on experimentation and collaboration, in which visual art, new media, installation, group projects and performance can be nurtured, supported and presented in partnership without boundaries or departmental silos. This innovative programming, combined with extensive community outreach, has allowed The Ringling to play a vital role in developing an emerging international network of living artists whose work transcends traditional practices.

The Ringling’s most recent addition to its contemporary collection, Knowledge from Samantha, by Trenton Doyle Hancock will be on view in the galleries devoted to the permanent collection. An additional important recent acquisition, Sideboard with Blue China, a monumental and intricate wood and glass piece by American artist Beth Lipman, will go on view in the new Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion, made possible in part by major gifts by Nancy and Philip Kotler and Margot and Warren Coville, which will break ground in April 2016 and open in the fall of 2017. The acquisition of Beth Lipman’s work was made possible by a major gift, along with an endowment for the acquisition of contemporary art, from Dan Denton, Board member, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation, and Founder Emeritus, Sarasota Magazine.

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