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The Ringling News

11 July 2023

Awakening Wonder at The Ringling

by The Ringling

Lately there’s been a lot of buzz among Ringling staff about Katherine May’s new book Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age. In this book, May invites her readers to reawaken their innate sense of wonder and awe. We loved this idea: that being more deliberate in how we appreciate small moments in time or specific aspects of our surroundings can bring delight back into our lives. If you, too, feel like you’ve lost your sense of enchantment in what is undoubtedly an “anxious age,” look no further than a visit to The Ringling, where there is truly something for everyone.

Take a meditative moment in the Museum of Art gazing at paintings that are portals to other worlds. Revel in the amazing human feats of strength, agility, creativity, and endurance showcased throughout the Circus Museum. Step across the threshold of Ca’ d’Zan mansion and be transported back to lavish lifestyles of the Roaring Twenties. Take a long relaxing walk on the museum grounds, finding refuge under the shade of a banyan tree’s cavernous roots. Settle into the Historic Asolo Theater and enjoy world-class performance in a strikingly beautiful historic setting.

Ready to let The Ringling enchant you? Here’s our current list of must-see items during your next visit, guaranteed to ignite your sense of wonder and leave you feeling nourished.

Lorna Bieber: Natural World

From now until October 15, visit special exhibition Lorna Bieber: Natural World in the Keith D. Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art. Bieber’s artwork encourages us to indulge in the pleasures of looking and discovering the details of the visual world. Bieber reenchants banal, discardable images through the process of photographic manipulation, such as amplifying small detail into mammoth proportions or shrinking grand objects to a small and intimate scale. Bieber offers her work as a visual way to inspire and reconnect with a shared sense of wonder.

Lorna Bieber in her studio working on Quiet Night, 2019-2022. Image courtesy of the artist (c) Lorna Bieber. Photo credit: Brad Trent


Still Life with Parrots

Sometimes just appreciating a small moment in a single work of art is enough to ignite awe. Visit Gallery 13 in the Museum of Art and study Still Life with Parrots. Notice how the silver vessel in the center of the composition reflects the oranges and oysters in front of it. Consider the process behind the creation of this beautiful detail: acquiring pigments, grinding them, blending them with oil to create paint, gathering the still-life objects, arranging them and working out the composition, making initial sketches and outlines, and, finally, applying the paint to a stretched canvas in tiny brushstrokes. Each brushstroke merges invisibly into a single illusion of space and depth, an illusion that has been enchanting viewers for almost 400 years.

Jan Davidsz de Heem (Flemish, 1606-1684), Still Life with Parrots (detail), late 1640s. Oil on canvas, 59 1/4 x 46 1/4 in. Bequest of John Ringling, 1936. SN289


Howard Bros. Circus Model

Transition from appreciating a singular detail to admiring big-picture accomplishments. Think about the last time you moved into a new home: the logistics were likely daunting and stressful, the planning process lengthy, and the physical labor intensive. Now imagine having to pack up and move 1300 people, 900 animals, dozens of tents, and trainloads of equipment every single day. The circus did that! Masters of moving parts and organization, the circus actually served as inspiration for US military officials during the first World War. Visit the Howard Bros. Circus Model and take in the comprehensive whole–all 42,000 pieces–to be wowed by the 20th century circus’s sheer efficiency and perfectly executed logistics as it toured across America.

Museum of Art Loggia

Clear your head and awaken your senses with a stroll down the marble loggia encircling the Museum of Art courtyard. Feel your feet slide across the smooth pink marble floors. Watch how sun and shadows scamper across the repeating series of columns and arches. Listen for chirping birds and smell the sea breeze blowing in off the bay. Find a sculpture, either on the loggia itself or within the courtyard gardens below, that captures your imagination. Think about why that might be: what about this sculpture resonates with you today?

Joseph’s Coat: A Skyspace by James Turrell (2011)

If you like a more structured meditative experience, book a ticket for Joseph’s Coat: Skyspace. Joseph’s Coat: A Skyspace by James Turrell (2011) is a triumph of technology, engineering, and aesthetics. The Skyspace is a gathering place for contemplation and offers a unique experience. At sunset, a sophisticated system of LED lights is employed to change the color of the space. In doing so, the artist changes the context in which we view the sky through the 24-foot aperture in the ceiling, affecting our perception. Designed specifically for Sarasota’s marine environment, the Skyspace grounds us firmly to our surroundings while also reminding us of the constancy of change.

Ca’ d’Zan Terrace

Another way to enjoy color and geometry in your environment is through a visit to the terrace of Ca’ d’Zan. Made up of many different types of domestic and imported marble, Ca’ d’Zan’s bayfront terrace is a striking 13,000-square-foot tessellated pattern, evoking a mesmerizing kaleidoscope. Stand there and study the veins, textures, and colors of each marble block. Next, slowly look up, allowing the parts to become one undulating, rhythmic whole, a visual echo of the bright colors and patterns of the mansion’s bayfront façade.

The Belevdere Tower

To really change your perspective–literally–take a guided tour at Ca’ d’Zan. The tour culminates with a visit to the Belvedere Tower, which crowns the top of the majestic five-story home.* With views of the sparkling water to the west and the entirety of the Ringling property to the east, north, and south, take a quiet moment to savor the splendor that envelops you. *weather permitting

What areas, objects, or experiences are your favorite ways to recharge and refresh at The Ringling? Let us know at [email protected] and we may feature your submission in an upcoming post!