Travel Guide to Florida - - SOUTHEAST FLORIDA -

Think of South­west Florida and im­ages of splen­did beaches im­me­di­ately come to mind. How­ever, the re­gion has a strong tra­di­tion of arts and cul­ture told in its ar­chi­tec­ture, gal­leries, mu­se­ums and the­aters.

In Naples, art gal­leries line down­town streets, where you will also find free ex­hi­bi­tions at the Naples Art As­so­ci­a­tion and lively per­for­mances at Sug­den Com­mu­nity The­atre and Gulf­shore Play­house. Ar­tis– Naples brings still more per­for­mance arts and is home to the Mi­ami City Bal­let and the world-class Baker Mu­seum of Art. Year­round, the re­gion hosts art shows in­clud­ing down­town’s pres­ti­gious Naples Na­tional Art Fes­ti­val in Fe­bru­ary, the Stay in May Fes­ti­val in April/May and the Naples In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in Oc­to­ber.

In the past few years, neigh­bor­ing Bonita Springs has leaped onto the arts band­wagon with the ex­pan­sion of the Cen­ter for the Arts to a sec­ond cam­pus with per­form­ing arts and a new film cen­ter, which hosts an­other an­nual in­ter­na­tional film fes­ti­val. In sum­mer 2016, the South­west Florida Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter opened with a celebrity-chef restau­rant and a slate of na­tion­ally known co­me­di­ans, bands, mu­si­cals and dance groups.

The art scene in Fort My­ers cen­ters around its his­toric down­town River District, where Art Walk takes place the first Fri­day of the month and Mu­sic Walk the third Fri­day. The Sid­ney & Berne Davis Art Cen­ter and Ar­cade The­atre, home to the na­tion­ally ac­claimed Florida Rep, oc­cupy sep­a­rate his­toric build­ings with dis­tinc­tive pe­riod ar­chi­tec­ture. A hand­ful of art gal­leries com­pletes down­town’s artis­tic land­scape. Watch as Alliance for the Arts turns Fort My­ers’ royal palm-lined Mc­Gre­gor Boule­vard into a pedes­trian-friendly art district of its own.

Down­town Punta Gorda’s river­front ar­chi­tec­ture re­calls the boom years of the late 19th cen­tury with Vic­to­rian man­sions, hand­some govern­ment build­ings and color­ful

ver­nac­u­lar homes. Browse the gal­leries of the Vis­ual Arts Cen­ter (VAC), which hosts the Peace River Na­tional Art Fes­ti­val in March.

Sara­sota ar­guably holds the lofti­est rep­u­ta­tion for the arts in these parts, stem­ming from the in­flu­ence of the Rin­gling fam­ily, whose cir­cus win­tered here. The Rin­glings ex­erted an Ital­ianate in­flu­ence on lo­cal ar­chi­tec­ture and the arts, cul­mi­nat­ing in the Ca’ d’Zan man­sion on The Rin­gling grounds. Seeded with John Rin­gling’s own col­lec­tion of Rubens and baroque art, The Rin­gling’s art mu­seum col­lec­tion cov­ers 500 years of Euro­pean art and spe­cial­izes in late-me­dieval and Re­nais­sance Ital­ian works. In 2016, it de­buted the Cen­ter for Asian Art to show­case re­volv­ing ex­hibits of its Asian col­lec­tion.

The com­plex’s Asolo Reper­tory The­atre con­trib­utes to Sara­sota’s rich the­atri­cal tra­di­tion, which ranges from new plays at the Florida Stu­dio The­atre to Broad­way shows at the Van Wezel Per­form­ing Arts Hall, de­signed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foun­da­tion to re­sem­ble a scal­lop shell.

Tak­ing up res­i­dence in a re­stored his­toric high school, the Rin­gling Col­lege of Art + De­sign’s Sara­sota Mu­seum of Art is ex­pected to open by mid-2018. For a driv­ing tour of other ar­chi­tec­tural gems, in­clud­ing ex­am­ples of the vaunted Sara­sota School of Ar­chi­tec­ture, pick up a copy of the Tour Sara­sota Ar­chi­tec­ture Guide at vis­i­tors’ cen­ters. Gal­leries fill the Sara­sota– Braden­ton area, which boasts two artists’ colonies—Towles Court near down­town Sara­sota and Village of the Arts in Braden­ton. The colonies and down­town Sara­sota sched­ule monthly gallery walks where you can meet the artists.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.