Wandering Around the Big Top – Ringling Art Museum
I am a walker, so it’s not unusual for me to bypass the Rubens and Duchamps inside the magnificent Ringling Art Museum and instead cover the grounds situated on the edge of the glorious Sarasota Bay. The exercise costs nothing, and the sights are breathtaking.
I started my walk west of the museum and strolled the promenade along the water’s edge. Almost immediately I came across a delightful deck jutting over the bay where art patrons were resting and watching the pelicans fish. Continuing on, I stopped to look at various pieces of outdoor sculpture, much of it with a Roman/Italian motif — lions, gargoyles, bulls, angels, and “courting couples.” Moving farther across the 66 acres, I found Mable Ringling’s original rose garden, which has been upgraded in the years since she died. Near another public garden lay the graves of John & Mable Ringling, termed “The Secret Garden.”
Around the corner, a children’s playground caught my eye alongside the Banyan Cafe, serving fresh lunches and snacks, both indoors and out. Ca d Z’an, the mansion where the Ringlings once lived, is also on the grounds, along with — of course! — a circus museum. All the grounds are perfectly maintained, allowing for a pleasurable walk among 14 Banyan trees (the largest collection in Florida), fountains, gardens, and ponds.
For those not up to the jaunt, the museum offers shuttles and outside tours. Next week my stroll might be inside the buildings for a look at European and American art, traditional and modern. For now, however, I am satisfied with exploring a magical space with its own set of alfresco artistry.
The Sarasota Spectator
Our Sarasota Spectator is Betsy Miller, a retired high school teacher and college professor. Originally from Columbus, Betsy has fallen in love with the Gulf Coast of Florida, especially Sarasota. Blogging about the area has been a creative outlet for the writer, opening up an avenue of exploration. You may find the bon vivant enjoying happy hour at a tiki bar, shopping on historic Main Street, or seated at a concert or show at a local theater. Chances are you also might find her buried in a book on one of our beautiful beaches. Asked to give one word about her feelings for Sarasota, Betsy replied, “Smitten.”