The Ringling opens first dedicated galleries to Modern and Contemporary art

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The Ringling opens first dedicated galleries to Modern and Contemporary art
Pathless Woods, by Anne Patterson. Anne Patterson with FSU graduate students.

SARASOTA, FLA.- The Ringling opened several permanent galleries devoted to modern and contemporary art in all media. This major commitment to modern and contemporary art caps the five-year anniversary of The Ringling’s Art of Our Time initiative to present and commission new works by contemporary artists in the visual and performance fields. The new galleries will showcase The Ringling’s growing 20th- and 21st-century collections and demonstrate its increased support of contemporary interdisciplinary work.

Modern and contemporary art has enjoyed an important presence at The Ringling since its first director, A. Everett (“Chick”) Austin, Jr., ensured it was an essential component of the institution’s offerings. Building on this legacy, The Ringling revitalized this commitment to modern and contemporary art with the hiring of Dr. Matthew McLendon as curator of modern and contemporary art and the subsequent 2011 installation of James Turrell’s meditative Skyspace Joseph’s Coat.

“The expansion of the modern and contemporary footprint across The Ringling campus has been a long-term strategic plan,” said Executive Director Steven High. “With the support of The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation Board, donors, members and staff, The Ringling has been able to capitalize on its past involvement in the contemporary arena by committing additional resources to artist and audience development.”

Four galleries in the Museum of Art’s Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing have been permanently reassigned to showcase rotating selections from The Ringling’s modern and contemporary collection, and a new flexible installation space underwritten by Keith and Linda Monda debuted in November. In addition, The Ringling’s American and European studio glass holdings are set to be unveiled in the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion in 2017. The Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion will also serve as the formal entrance to the Historic Asolo Theater, The Ringling’s active contemporary performance venue.

“In the last five years, our modern and contemporary exhibitions and programs have built a considerable following and support base,” said McLendon. “Our objective with these new spaces is to advance the discourse of leading and emerging international artists working across genres through our permanent collection and special exhibitions.”

The Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery of Contemporary Art in the west wing of the Museum of Art is a more experimental and adaptable environment, particularly suited to video, new media, installation, innovative contemporary photography, performance and project-based work. Focused on living artists in single and small group shows, it provides a much-needed site for grappling with some of the most complex and provocative issues of our time.

The Monda Gallery opened with a site-specific installation by the American artist Anne Patterson. Entitled Pathless Woods, which references a line of Byron’s poetry - “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods” - the interactive, multi-media installation invites visitors to find their own path through a forest of ribbons. Each directional choice leads to a unique experience. Pathless Woodscontinues Patterson’s exploration of synesthetic environments, which began with her acclaimed 2013 project Graced With Light at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

The Ringling has built its modern and contemporary collection over the years by acquiring key works of art from its dynamic slate of special exhibitions and through significant recent gifts to the collection by generous donors, but has not had dedicated exhibition space.

“Being able to showcase noteworthy selections from The Ringling’s modern and contemporary collections represents a celebration of all that the institution has to offer,” said Christopher Jones, associate curator of photography and exhibitions. “I believe our visitors will be surprised by, and greatly appreciate, the works added recently to our collection.”

The Ringling is a center for art, history, and learning situated on 66 acres on Sarasota Bay. It is built on the remarkable legacy of circus entrepreneur, collector of art and financier John Ringling and his wife Mable.

The Ringling inspires visitors with an acclaimed collection of Old Master paintings, explores with them the diverse cultures and art of Asia, delights them with the story of the American circus and transports them to the Roaring Twenties during a tour of the magnificent Ca’ d’Zan mansion.

The Ringling is also committed to exhibiting the work of an emerging community of living artists that moves beyond traditional practice and features dynamic and engaging contemporary visual and performing arts, including a diverse roster of theater, music and dance.

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