May 25, 2021 - News

New Sarasota Art Museum exhibits tackle race, class structure

A bright-colored painting by Robert Colescott

Robert Colescott, 1919, 1980, Acrylic on canvas, 71 3/4 x 83 7/8 inches © 2021 The Robert H. Colescott Separate Property Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Joshua White

The Sarasota Art Museum wants you to get uncomfortable.

What's happening: Two new exhibits tackle issues including racial inequality, class structure, and privilege.

  • Starting this weekend, the museum will host the first retrospective of American painter Robert Colescott's works.

The intrigue: The museum's curators know Colescott's paintings draw in the eyes with vibrant colors like cotton candy-pink and Heinz-mustard yellow, then make you quickly want to turn away with the use of crude stereotypes.

  • That's why they love them. While Colescott's work has drawn criticism for decades, curators Lowery Stokes Sims, Matthew Wesley and Raphaela Platow argue that his art shocks people into dealing with issues generally unspoken about.
  • "I think people need to understand that while (Colescott) seems facetious, he's deadly serious," Sims said at a media showing of the exhibit.

If you go: Look for Selene's favorite piece "Tin Gal."

A piece of art made out of shredded golf bags
Charles McGill, Shredded Quilt II, 2016, reconfigured golf bag parts on panel, 72 x 72 x 6 in. Photo: Jenny Gorman / courtesy of the Estate of Charles McGill.

What else: Coming along with Colescott are works by Charles McGill, who molds vintage golf bags into critiques of white supremacy in the sport.

  • Shredding the bags and shaping them into images like KKK klansmen is no easy task, museum spokesman Rich Schineller noted. The sturdy leather bags, like privilege, are meant to last a lifetime, not be taken apart. And they're too heavy for the owner to carry.
A colorful sculptural tree made out of pom-poms, resin, yarn, clay, and recycled materials.
Samo Davis, Happiness in ROYGBIV, 2021, Plastic, pom poms, resin, yarn, clay, recycled materials. Photo: Samo Davis

Plus: When you walk into the museum, you'll see a rainbow tree sprouting from the lobby, the work of Samo Davis. It's the manifestation of her imagination sparked by staying inside during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • As a child, Davis had so many allergies she wasn't allowed to play in nature. But indoors she found her love of sewing and sculpture.

Details: "Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott," "Charles McGill: In The Rough" and "Happiness in ROYGBIV" will be shown starting Saturday.

  • Entry to the museum is free the last Sunday of every month.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the museum is free on the first Sunday of every month. It is free on the last Sunday of each month.


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