It’s a brave and bittersweet time for Moe Mitchell, who simultaneously turns 70 and bids farewell to Sarasota after 42 years spent teaching painting at the Ringling School of Art and Design. A fixture on the local arts scene since 1959, when he graduated from Ringling, Mitchell is known for his enthusiasm for art and his students, and his willingness to experiment with new media. ("He’s an old dog who likes new tricks," says colleague Kevin Dean.)
But Mitchell bemoans the size and pace of the new Sarasota. "A kind of poetry, a beauty, a quietude has been lost in the glitz of new buildings and new money," he says. So this summer, Mitchell and his wife, Marty, will move to Chattanooga, Tenn., where he’ll concentrate on his painting, pursuing full-time "that inward thing that’s been eating away at me." Though he’ll miss "my dear friends and colleagues," he’s convinced this "enormous leap of faith is going to reward us in ways left to be unveiled."