There is something for everyone at this year’s Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF). A four-day cultural celebration of music, dance, theater, and art, RIAF 2014 will bring more than one hundred performers from across the globe right here to Sarasota. With performances held in and around the picturesque estate of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, it is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a thought-provoking show and explore galleries filled with fascinating art and artifacts.
During my most recent stroll through the Museum of Art, I began to notice some interesting similarities between the artwork hanging on the walls and the artful performances I anticipate seeing during RIAF.
As I admired "Drawing of the Lottery, Piazza delle Erbe, Turin" by Giovanni Michele Granieri I could nearly hear the shouts of the bustling crowd. The image of the busy market in Turin is powerful, rhythmic, and interactive. All of these words have been used to describe one of the most celebrated jazz ensembles today, the Vijay Iyer Trio. Vijay Iyer and his colleagues, Marcus Gilmore and Stephan Crump, have created a powerful new music with groove and pulse.
As my eyes scanned Robert Henri’s painting "Salome," I couldn’t help but think of Keigwin + Company’s upcoming performance. Henri captured the seductive power of dance in this painting with every stroke of his brush, while Keigwin + Company’s Artistic Director Larry Keigwin brings a similar kind of style and energy to his electrifying brand of contemporary choreography. I can almost imagine Salome moving off the canvas to join the talented dancers onstage at the Historic Asolo Theater.
The irritated monkeys scrambling across a sumptuous table in Frans Snyders' "Still Life with Fighting Monkeys" reminded me of Moses. A cantankerous puppet undergoing an existential crisis, Moses also happens to live on top of a table. Blind Summit Theatre brings Moses to life with wit and mischief in The Table, just as the bad-tempered monkeys in this Flemish still life bring a bit of tomfoolery to the serious business of reflecting on life.
"Philip IV, King of Spain" was my next stop. As I stared up at the pale face and somewhat misshapen features of the pensive Hapsburg monarch, I couldn’t help but wonder if the sumptuous Rumba beats of the Pedrito Martinez Group would have stirred this pious king’s inner rhythm. I can’t help but imagine the quick hands and afro-Cuban sounds of Pedro Martinez soulfully hypnotizing the solemn young Philip. I like to think he’d stand up and dance with me.