The Background: Sarasota’s oldest arts organization, Art Center Sarasota, and Sarasota’s music event coordinator extraordinaires, The Closet, teamed up last Friday, August 31, to present a four-band, five-dolla, concert at the recently renovated Art Center. Darwin’s on 4th contributed to the event by donating two pony kegs of their fabulous locally brewed beer. The Shamrock Pub, another regular supporter of arts and music, also donated beer for the event.
The Set-up: Last year’s renovations at Art Center Sarasota made the building into a unique local music venue. The newly walled and renovated sculpture garden provided a cozy spot for concert-goers to check out Friday night’s blue moon. Walking inside the building transported the crowd into a completely new space with a completely new feel. The entranceway to the Art Center brings guests through a triangulated tunnel and into artist Rick Herzog’s gallery-encompassing installation, “Everything is Touching by Underground Wires”. After navigating through Herzog’s geometric cardboard and rope environment, show-goers arrived in the back gallery where the juried show “Deep Sea” is hung. Surrounded by artwork on all sides, the stage, furnished by The Closet, was completely unique from any stage set-up I’ve ever seen locally. From the back of the gallery, multicolored stage lights moved over the intense audio set-up and onto the stage. The stage itself stood in the midst of a huge grouping of mannequins. The mannequins, freestanding, on pedestals and even hanging from the ceiling, provided an intriguing and visually fascinating backdrop for the bands. A huge LED curtain sat behind the mannequins, lighting up in different patterns throughout the night. To the left was a projection of visual artist Van Jazmin’s live art; sitting just to the left of the stage next to Jazmin, artist, Eric De Barros drew, painted and danced throughout the night. Above it all hung a giant mirror, traditionally used for drawing classes, but in this situation providing a second view of the elaborate set-up as well a unique bird’s eye view of the musicians as they played.
And Now for Some Music: If you are familiar with The Closet, then you know that they put on well-curated shows with a variety of bands in just the right lineup. Friday night’s show was no exception. The crowd warmed up quickly with a set from Physical Plant and their unique psychedelic rock and folk music blend. The second set was comprised of rockin’ songs from Kansas City-based and highly acclaimed Not A Planet. Sparta Philharmonic followed, and I particularly enjoyed the being able to watch the slow destruction of cellist Greg Bortnichak’s bow in the hanging mirror throughout the set. The show ended with danceable tropical pop from The Equines.
“We’ve had some very strong acts tonight,” Jazmin said. “Not A Planet was highly energetic, engaging, good transitions. Sparta Philharmonic, the two [Alexander and Greg Bortnichak] jive so well together.”
Up Next: The crowd, the bands, and the Art Center all seemed to unanimously love The Closet/Art Center Sarasota collaboration.
“The recent concert at the center produced by The Closet was a great success bringing together four great bands along with visual artists,” said Lisa Berger, Director of Development, Marketing and PR for Art Center Sarasota. “The visual artists and musicians reinforced the Center’s mission to inspire individual creative expression and nurture artistic talent. The musicians played to an enthusiastic crowd who really seemed to like the space surrounded by art and great music. We hope to make the concerts a regular event throughout the year.”
The musicians seemed to agree, as the members of Not A Planet enthused: “We loved it! This place is awesome! This was amazing! Mike [Murphy] put on a hell of a show tonight as the producer; it was fantastic visually and sound-wise. We are very proud of what he put together and this place is just absolutely amazing. The artwork we get to see here, in every room, is super cool.”
The next The Closet/Art Center Sarasota collaborative show, titled “Chrch!!!,” will take place Sunday, September 16 at 8pm at Art Center Sarasota. As the first installment in a series of shows scheduled to take place every third Sunday, this first show promises to be a little something for everyone and features Fancy Rat, O’Captain, Kyle Kern, and Roadkill Ghost Choir.
To learn more about Art Center Sarasota, including info about current and upcoming exhibitions, the new Black Box Projects space and events such as the September 6 Sound Bytes Poetry show, visit their website.
Not A Planet can be seen in New Port Richey on September 4 and in Jacksonville on September 5 before they begin the homeward journey to open for Maps & Atlases. Check out their album, The Greatest Show on Earth, on their website, and follow them on Facebook for tour dates and great pictures.
Stay in touch with the latest from Sparta Philharmonic on Facebook.
Same goes for The Equines: for information on their upcoming shows, follow them on Facebook.