Day Trip to Sarasota Part II: Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy
Bushnell, FL - Events of Friday, February 28, 2014
Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy showed up in our research of things to do in Sarasota. Since it sounded interesting and since it is about only about 10 minutes north of Der Dutchman where we went for breakfast and only about 5 minutes south of Sarasota Jungle Gardens, we put it on our list of possibilities. After we finished up at Sarasota Jungle Gardens, it was still early enough, so we headed to the Marietta Museum before making our way back north to Blueberry Hill.
The Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy is only open from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays from late October through the end of May. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.
The museum is the creation of Marietta Lee, who, according to the bio on the museum's website, was an emergency room nurse as well as an RN/EMT. Ms. Lee discovered that art helped lift her spirits from the darkness she sometimes experienced as a nurse and as an EMT. In addition to her nursing degree, Marietta Lee also has a BA from Eastern Kentucky University and a BA in Fine Arts from Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.
Ms. Lee founded the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy in 2006 as a non-profit foundation, but she had difficulty finding a location for the museum in her old home town in Connecticut. Therefore, she turned to Sarasota where she had earned her Fine Arts degree and where she maintained a part-time residence.
After an extensive amount of work, the museum was opened at its present location on North Tamiami Trail in Sarasota in 2010. If you have trouble finding it, just look for the florescent pink flamingos along the street in front of the museum and the parking lot.
The goal of the museum is to collect, preserve and display art that lifts the spirit. The exterior of the museum is painted bright, flamingo pink, and the inside walls are warm, cheery pastels. Everything about the building and grounds are intended to be uplifting and to make the viewer smile. We were greeted with a whimsical toucan bench by the front door.
Even the rest rooms are decorated with art and sculpture. The lotus flower sculpture in the next photo was on display in the ladies room. The paper-thin petals are made from a special air-drying clay. Some of the color is mixed directly into the clay, and some is applied afterward.
The brightly-colored chicken by Hannah Price in the next photo is called "Chicken Little - The Ice is Melting."
One room had a suspended, three-piece sculpture by Michael Gard called "Flying Dancers." The graceful figures twirled, which almost made them look like they were moving.
Gard creates his figures by first sculpting them in clay and then casting them in wax using the clay as a master. He wraps wire around the wax form weaving and knotting it as he goes. The wax is then melted away leaving a strong wire shell. Gard began adding LED lights to some of his figures in 2008.
Another interesting installation was "The Lee Family Arch," which covers the archway between the two main rooms of the museum. It is made up of shells, stones, bits of colored glass and marbles, tie tacks, stick pins and even watches that belonged to Marietta Lee's parents. The arch is a tribute to the Lee family.
Margery liked the soft sculpture of a tourist eating ice cream.
Fine crafts also have a place in the museum. In the photo below, Margery is trying out a driftwood chair. All she needs is an ice cream sundae and a big hat, and someone might mistake her for the soft sculpture above.
The basket shown below was the most intricate pine needle basket we had ever seen.
Paul was intrigued by the ceramic seascape that had sea anemones, barnacles and sea fans.
There were numerous paintings in both oils and water colors. Paul liked the way the sunlight seemed to sparkle off the palm fronds and the flowers in the next painting by A.E. Backus titled "Royal Poinciana."
The exaggerated purples, reds and blues in the shadows in the painting "Dora Canal" by Jane Slivka seemed to glow.
The piece we found by far most fascinating was a sculpture called "Security Guard" by Marc Sijan. The guard, who wears a name badge that says, "Art," sits quietly by the door watching everyone who comes and goes.
Art is so realistic we both had to stare for a long time to make sure he wasn't real. The closer view of Art below gives you a little bit of an idea how much detail the sculpture has. Sijan creates his hyper-realistic sculptures from resin and paints them with multiple layers of semi-transparent paint to give the skin a life-like translucent quality. You can see individual hairs, pores in the skin, wrinkles, veins, age spots and blemishes. Art is even wearing a hearing aid.
Behind the museum is a garden that has more sculptures. There are many smaller pieces as well as quite a few larger ones. One of the larger sculptures is a horse bench by Keith Bradley. It is made primarily from horseshoes.
"Flying Psycho Pigs and Piglets" by Frederick Prescott really added to the whimsy in the garden.
In addition to all the sculptures, the garden area behind the museum is attractively landscaped.
Even the parking lot located on the other side of a narrow side street had sculptures and attractive landscaping.
We really enjoyed the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy. We liked the fact everything had a cheerful theme, and we especially liked the fact the whimsical pieces were quirky, but not too far out or too abstract.
During the summer when the museum is closed they work on various construction and improvement projects. They also change out much of their artwork every year, so the museum may very well become an annual stop for us, especially since it is conveniently located near Der Dutchman restaurant.
From the museum, we headed back to Blueberry Hill. There are a couple of construction zones between Sarasota and Bushnell, and there was a big slowdown in the one just north of Tampa where they are doing re-paving. It took almost a whole hour longer to get back to the motor home than it did to get to Sarasota earlier in the morning. We were very weary when we pulled into Blueberry Hill so we'll be taking a few days off from sightseeing. There was more rain and clouds predicted for the beginning of the following week anyway; but we'll probably be looking for something to do by the time it clears, so stay tuned.