José Bedia’s large painting from 2002, La isla espera una señal (The Island Waits for a Signal), is one of the highlights of the current exhibition at the Ringling Museum, Cuban Art from the Farber Collection, organized by the Harn Museum in Gainesville, Fla. Bedia escaped Castro’s control many years ago, and this work reveals the artist’s commentary on his homeland. Bedia’s color combination of blue and brown is simple and yet seductive and compelling. Cuba, seen from a passing ship today, is in reality lush and deeply forested with green, but Bedia pictures a land that’s barren, with only a few trees. His Cuba floats in the sea like an odd sphinx smoking a cigar. For exiles, Fidel Castro has become the island. We see a lone figure swimming toward us and are reminded that many Cubans who’ve left since 1959 have hoped every single day to return. Max Groenthal captured this longing in his song Only in Miami, recorded by Bette Midler, with the refrain “only in Miami is Cuba so far away.”—Mark Ormond
Author Barbara Taylor Bradford brings history to life—and to the Sarasota Reading Festival.
Novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford has sold more than 75 million books in the 30 years since her first, A Woman of Substance, was published, but she’s certainly not one to rest on her laurels (including the Order of the British Empire honor she recently received from Queen Elizabeth). Her latest (and 23rd) book, The Heir, is set in 1918 and loosely retells the story of Henry VIII using the fictional DeRavenel family; it’s out just in time for her appearance at this year’s Sarasota Reading Festival, Nov. 3. We talked with her about what keeps her hard at work.
Q. When you switched from journalism to fiction, did you make a conscious effort to develop a certain writing style?
A. I was a writer before I was a journalist, really, because I sold my first short story when I was 10 years old. But working as a journalist until my mid-30s, I did consciously try to create my own style in my fiction, which I think is very English. I tend to describe things. I was brought up on the classics, and I want words to leap up off the page in that very traditional English style.
Q. Do you always have a clear idea of where you’re headed with the story?
A. I always center in the beginning on character, because as Graham Greene once said, “Character is plot.” Their aims and ambitions are going to tell my story. I don’t give an outline to a publisher anymore, but I do break out the structure, since my books are usually divided into parts. That gives me a blueprint. I must know the title and the characters, and I like to know my last page.
Q. Do you use research assistants for your books?
A. Oh, no, because when it comes to English history, I know it, and they’ll get it wrong! But I do have people in my husband’s office [her husband, Bob Bradford, has produced a number of television miniseries of her books] I can ask a specific question of. For example, if I have a character walking across the Strand to the Savoy in 1904, I can ask them to check, “Was the Savoy built in 1904?” Or, “What do you do with a dead body in Italy in 1904?” That sort of thing.
Q. Any of your characters that especially remain with you?
A. Emma Harte from A Woman of Substance will never go away; she’s so real to me. And a lot of people won’t let me forget her.
Q. With all the success you’ve had, why do you keep working so hard?
A. Writing is me; it’s what I am. I’d be bored if I didn’t do it. I had a secretary once who asked me, “Where does it come from? Last week you didn’t have anything, and this Monday you’ve started a book.” Well, it just comes from my imagination, from inside me. And I’m focused; when I come into my office, I come in to work. Someone once said, “A novel is a monumental lie that has to have the absolute ring of truth if it’s going to succeed.” And that’s what I strive for. —Kay Kipling
Ringling Museum of Art. On view through Nov. 4: Thomas Chimes and the Art of Painting. Continuing through Dec. 31 is Avant-Garde: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Faber Collection, works in various media by 42 Cuban-born artists; and through Jan. 6, Los Caprichos, etchings by Francisco Goya. And showing through Jan. 10 are photographs celebrating Cuba’s natural landscape by renowned local photographer Clyde Butcher. 359-5700.
Selby Gallery. Continuing here through Nov. 11 is Part II of the annual Ringling College faculty exhibition; it’s followed by The Image and the Word, showcasing found object pieces by Sarasota artist Gwen Fryer in Gallery I and minimalist paintings and poetry by the late Bruce Rosen in Gallery II. Opens with a reception at 5 p.m. Nov. 16 and runs through Dec. 14. 359-7563.
Venice Art Center. On view here through Nov. 20 is an exhibition of Women Contemporary Artists, followed by an abstract exhibition opening Nov. 30 and running through Dec. 28. 485-7136.
Longboat Key Center for the Arts. Through Nov. 26, the Glen Gallery here presents Images in Color, Light and Movement, featuring works from the Suncoast Glass Guild. Also this month: in the Durante Gallery, opening with a reception Nov. 2, the National League of American Pen Women, followed by A New York State of Mind, a show of new sculptures and paintings by Jack Dowd, Nov. 27 through Dec. 8. Also, in the Members Exhibit and Gift Gallery, art and jewelry on sale Nov. 28 through Feb. 17. 383-2345.
Selby Gardens’ Museum of Botany and the Arts. Continuing on view here through Nov. 26 is Intimate Views of Nature, artworks by painter Jon C. Stout. 366-5731.
Ringling College Roskamp Center. Continuing on view here through Nov. 30 is an exhibit of student works from the college’s Continuing Studies programs, along with pieces by instructors. A reception is set for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 15. 359-7563.
Tampa Museum of Art. Continuing through Dec. 16: Latino Voices from the Permanent Collection and Frida Kahlo: Images of an Icon. (813) 274-8130.
Museum of Fine Arts. Remaining on view at this St. Petersburg museum through Jan. 6 is Poetry of the Commonplace: A Selection of Latin American Photographs, featuring works by Manuel Carillo, Mariana Yampolsky and Graciela Iturbide, among others. Also on view, through Feb. 24, is Sacred India, Sacred Tibet, presenting religious art from the 11th to 19th centuries. ((727) 896-2667.
Salvador Dali Museum. Running through January at this St. Petersburg museum: Biblia Sacra Part II, Dali paintings based on the Latin Vulgate Bible. Also on view: video projections by Catalan artist Mabel Palacin. (727) 823-3767.
Greene Contemporary. Opening with a reception Nov. 2 to run through Dec. 1 at this Pineapple Avenue gallery is a show featuring new paintings by Paul Lorenz. 365-9406.
Palm Avenue First Friday Walk. Open art galleries, music and more, from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 2 along the avenue. 365-5200.
Galleria Silecchia. On view here Nov. 2-20 are blown glass vessels by Duncan McClellan; you can also see, Nov. 2-30, sepia-toned photographs by Michael Kahn. 365-7414.
Design Impressions Gallery. On view here Nov. 1 through Jan. 5: Extraordinary Visions—The Natural World, paintings by botanical artist Olivia Marie Braida. 373-9660.
Dabbert Gallery. This month’s exhibit, Destinations, Land, Sea & Cityscapes, features artwork by Tom Swimm, Brian Sage, Craig Rubadoux, Kathleen Carrillo, David Bottini and Allan Teger and runs through Nov. 30. 955-1315.
Avenida De Colores. Celebrating a 400-year-old type of performance art, Burns Square presents its first “Avenida de Colores” chalk festival, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 10 and 11. The weekend, which benefits the Sarasota Film Society/Burns Court Cinema, includes indoor and outdoor films, live music, and 50 or so large temporary chalk artworks. 955-5133.
Sarasota Season of Sculpture. The fourth season of monumental sculptures by artists from Florida, throughout the United States and elsewhere debuts along the bayfront near Marina Jack, starting Nov. 11 and running through May 26. 366-7767 or 953-4515.
Art Center Sarasota. On view Nov. 13 through Dec. 29 are the following shows: Twelve Inch by Twelve Inch, a juried membership exhibition focused on works one square foot in size; figure sculpture by Rukiya; and contemporary arts, crafts and holiday gifts in the center’s holiday boutique. 365-2032.
Sonnet Gallery. The Towles Court gallery presents works by its artists, including Adrian Serrano, Donald Redner, Monica Mary, Ivan Rojas, Margarita Deleuze, Moravia and others, with a cocktail reception set for 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 16. 928-6490.
American Craft Council Show. The ACC’s Sarasota show returns for the 13th year, offering works in the media of clothing, jewelry, furniture, glass, ceramics, fiber and more by 200 of the nation’s premier jury-selected artists, Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 at the Sarasota Bradenton International Convention Center. New this year: Craft 4 Kids, items designed especially for children, and live performances by the Florida West Coast Symphony’s Brass Quintet, 11 a.m. Dec. 1, and its Wind Quintet, at 12:30 p.m. that same day. Tickets are $12 per person, with a two-day pass available for $18; kids 12 and under free. For more information call (800) 836-3470 or go to www.CraftCouncil.org..
Tom Chapin. Popular singer/storyteller Chapin is slated to appear in a Saturday Morning for Kids show, at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 10 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre. Ty Barnett, first runner-up on Last Comic Standing, entertains Nov. 1-4 at the comedy club, followed by Rich Guzzi (Nov. 7-11), Al Romas (Nov. 14-15), David Alan Grier (Nov. 16-18) and Al Ernst (Nov. 28-30). 925-3869.
Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. Experience the native dances of Mexico with this long-established company, at 8 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Tango Buenos Aires. The company’s new production, “The Four Seasons,” features the choreography of Lidia Segni in tangos both sensuous and passionate, at 8 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Georgian State Dance Company. Under the direction of Tengiz Sukhishvili, the dance troupe performs a wide range of Georgian folk dances, at 8 p.m. Nov. 25 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Sarasota Ballet of Florida. The company, under new artistic director Iain Webb, presents Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Two Pigeons, at 8 p.m. Nov. 30, and 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Van Wezel. 351-8000.
Historic Asolo Theater Film Series. Revel in the comic genius of the Marx Brothers in showings of some of their classic films, starting with 1929’s The Cocoanuts (set during the Florida land boom), at 3 and 7 p.m. Nov. 5; A Night at the Opera, 7 p.m. Nov. 12; Horse Feathers, 7 p.m. Nov. 19; and Duck Soup, 7 p.m. Nov. 26; all at the Historic Asolo Theater. 360-7399.
Cine-World Film Festival. So many movies, so little time…make the most of it at the annual Cine-World fest at Burns Court Cinemas, where up to 50 feature films from around the world will be screened Nov. 9-18. Call 364-8662 or go to filmsociety.org for schedule details.
Sarasota Reading Festival. The 10th annual festival promises to bring a celebration of the joys of reading, with author readings and panel discussions, children’s events and performances scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at Five Points Park. Among the writers set at press time: CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, actor Gene Wilder, best-seller Barbara Taylor Bradford, and cookbook authors Earl “Bubba” Hiers and George Stella. 906-1733, or go online at sarasotareadingfestival.com.
Sarasota International Design Summit. “Designing for Life” is the theme of the second summit, hosted by the Ringling College of Art and Design Nov. 5-7 at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and the Ringling campus. The summit will feature keynote speakers including chefs, editors, creative directors and others; parties, exhibits and more; for full info go to www.sarasotadesignsummit.com.
Great Teddy Bear Run. The 10th annual event to benefit KIDS by the Sea, helping families with kids afflicted by cancer. Bikers head from University Center to the Sarasota County Fairgrounds for a party, bike show, music, rodeo, food and more; admission $10. 927-7020 or 951-7005.
Efest. The third annual festival celebrating green living takes place Nov. 17 at the Sarasota Polo Club at Lakewood Ranch and offers exhibits, live entertainment, a children’s activities area, food and drink and much more; for specifics call 924-9065 or go to efest.us.
Heritage Holidays at Historic Spanish Point. Victorian-era decorations, special tours and living history drama performances enliven the historic site this time of year, starting Nov. 23 and continuing through Dec. 31. The museum store will also feature holiday gift items. For specific performance times, call 966-5214 or go to historicspanishpoint.org.
Wall Street Live. Investment and political luminaries including Steve Forbes, Ned David and Louis Navellier will converge on the Hyatt Sarasota starting at 8 a.m. Nov. 30 for a daylong event for investors that also benefits Caring for Children Charities/Florida Winefest & Auction. For ticket info call (800) 970-4355 or visit WallStreetLive.net.
Florida West Coast Symphony Great Escapes. “Once Upon a Time” is the theme for this month’s first pops concerts at Holley Hall, Nov. 1, 2 and 3, offering Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, themes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and more. Later this month, look for “Music from the Big Screen,” Nov. 28 through Dec. 1, which includes selections from Gone With the Wind, Chicago and Schindler’s List. 953-3434.
Sarasota Blues Festival. The 17th annual fest takes place Nov. 3 at Ed Smith Stadium with headliner Buddy Guy, Mighty Lester, Oteil & the Peacemakers, 13-year-old prodigy Conrad Oberg and many more performers scheduled. Gates open at 11 a.m.; music starts at noon; for tickets go to any Ticketmaster location, Rossiter’s Harley Davidson, the Five O’Clock Club, or check out sarasotabluesfest.com.
Jazz at the Ranch. A day full of jazz, from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at Lakewood Ranch’s Polo Grounds, courtesy of the Jazz Club of Sarasota. 366-1552.
Sarasota Pops Orchestra. “Musical Magic” is the theme for the orchestra’s concert of perennial favorites, including Disney selections. At 3 p.m. Nov. 4 at Church of the Palms. 926-POPS (7677).
The Art of the Recital. Artist Series of Sarasota artistic director Lee Dougherty Ross and soprano Michelle Giglio join forces in a song-filled lecture-demonstration at 11 a.m. Nov. 6 at the Historic Asolo Theater. 360-7399.
Florida West Coast Symphony Masterworks. Violinist Rachel Lee joins the orchestra to perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64, at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 and 10 at Van Wezel, 8 p.m. Nov. 9 at Neel Performing Arts Center, and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Van Wezel. Also on the program: Beethoven’s Symphony Nov. 7. 953-3434.
Venice Symphony. The symphony offers Music Outside the Box, at 4 p.m. Nov. 11 at Jacaranda Trace; plus the Eric Watters Show at 8 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19 at Venice Little Theatre. 488-1010.
Cocktails at the Cà d’Zan. The Dr. Dave Band entertains, with refreshments available, from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 15 on the Ringling grounds. 359-5700.
Marvin Hamlisch. Composer-performer Hamlisch (The Sting, The Way We Were) guests once more at the Van Wezel, at 8 p.m. Nov. 15. 953-3368.
Key Chorale. The choral ensemble performs music by Billings, Copland and Ives in a concert billed as “Hear America Sing,” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. 921-4845.
Yamato, Japanese Drummers. Feel the pulse of the traditional Wadaiko drums, at 8 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
New Music New College. The contemporary music series presented by New College of Florida offers two performances this month: A Night at the “Opera” with Stuart Saunders Smith Nov. 16, and the Sylvia Smith Percussion Duo: The Percussion/Theater Music of Stuart Saunders Smith, Nov. 17. Both at 8 p.m. at Sainer Pavilion on the campus. 487-4154.
GuitarSarasota Showcase Concert. Musicians will play classical, jazz, flamenco guitar and more, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at St. Paul Lutheran Church. 351-8000.
Florida West Coast Symphony Chamber Afternoon. The mixed ensembles of the orchestra perform works by Telemann, Handel, C.P.E. Bach and J.S. Bach, at 4 p.m. Nov. 18 at Holley Hall. 953-3434.
St. Thomas More Catholic Church Concert Series. Duo pianists Rose-n-Rood (Henry Rose and Kathryn Rood) perform together at 4 p.m. Nov. 18 at the church. For ticket info call 923-1691.
3 Mo’ Divas. Three female stars (TBA at press time) cross eight musical styles and 400 years of music in this show conceived by Marion J. Caffey (Three Mo’ Tenors), at 8 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Perlman Music Program Young Artist Recital Series. Violinist Arnaud Sussman performs the first of this series’ concerts, at 8 p.m. Nov. 19 at Selby Auditorium, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus. 953-3368.
Make ‘Em Laugh: The Music of Classic Comedies. A lecture-demonstration with June LeBell, at 11 a.m. Nov. 20 in the Historic Asolo Theater. 360-7399.
Artist Series of Sarasota. Sisters and pianists Michelle and Christine Naughton perform in a program including works by Milhaud, Brahms and Haydn at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 25 and 27 at the Historic Asolo. 360-7399.
Anúna: Celtic Origins. The Irish choir, familiar to many from its Riverdance days, presents a new show harking back through centuries of Irish music, at 8 p.m. Nov. 26 at Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Manasota SOLVE Maternity Homes Golf Tournament. This tourney takes place Nov. 3 at Tara Golf and Country Club. 748-0094.
Boys & Girls Club Tennis Tournament. The racquets are revving up Nov. 9-11 at the Longboat Key Club and Resort; entry fee is $75 per person. 366-3911 ext. 126.
InStride Equine-Assisted Therapy. The Absolute Aluminum golf tourney takes place Nov. 10 at Lake Venice Golf Club; entry fee is $65. 412-9333.
Sarasota Sports Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic. The third annual event starts at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 17 at the Longboat Key Club and Resort. A golf foursome costs $10,000, so crank up your bank account as well as your clubs. 927-0559.
Grand Slam Winners Classic. All-day tennis Dec. 1 at the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, followed by a Tennis Ball, to benefit Wellness Community programs. For info on registering, contact Janet Hunter at email@example.com.
Power of Women. Next up in this series, at 4 p.m. Nov. 15 at New College of Florida, the spotlight is on Women in Law & Finance. 487-4674.
Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical. Good and evil duke it out in Victorian London in this version of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale, through Nov. 4 at the Players Theatre. 365-2494.
A Tale of Two Cities. The new musical adaptation of Dickens’ classic continues through Nov. 18 at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. 351-8000.
Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Neil Simon’s affectionate look back at the writers’ room of a 1950s television comedy hit very much like Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows continues through Nov. 18 at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre. 366-5454.
Murder by Poe. Horror, mystery and spine-tingling chills courtesy of master Edgar Allan Poe, in this seven-story compilation running through Nov. 18 in an FSU/Asolo Conservatory production in the Historic Asolo Theater. 351-8000.
Altar Boyz. The musical comedy about a very clean-cut boy group, continuing through Dec. 1 on Florida Studio Theatre’s mainstage. 366-9000.
Misery. The stage version of part-time Sarasota resident Stephen King’s chiller about an injured novelist and his deranged No. 1 fan continues through Dec. 16 at the Asolo Rep. 351-8000.
Harry Who? The Lullaby of Broadway. A revue saluting music master Harry Warren, running through Jan. 5 in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret. 366-9000.
Kimberly Akimbo. Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire’s play about a 16-year-old with a disease that ages her at a much faster rate than her peers, running Nov. 1-18 at Venice Little Theatre’s Stage II. 488-1115.
Swing! It Don’t Mean a Thing unless you Caravan to the Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre, where I’ll Be Seeing You at this musical dedicated to 1940s swing. Get the picture? Runs Nov. 1-18. 748-5875.
Letters Home. A play based on the real letters of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, presented at 5 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Little Shop of Horrors. That gigantic plant, Audrey II, is hungry for audience members in the Howard Ashman-Alan Menken musical, Nov. 6-25 at Venice Little Theatre. 488-1115.
Can-Can. The Cole Porter musical focused around that scandalous dance offers up some great standards, including It’s All Right with Me and I Love Paris. Runs Nov. 20 through Jan. 6 at the Golden Apple. 366-5454.
Peter Pan. The high-flying musical about the boy who wouldn’t grow up entertains at 8 p.m. Nov. 23, 2 and 8 p.m. Nov. 24 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Forever Plaid. The ever popular clean-cut musical foursome returns to the stage in Venice Little Theatre’s cabaret, Nov. 27 through Dec. 29. 488-1115.
An Evening with Groucho. Actor Frank Ferrante reprises his popular one-man show as the legendary Groucho Marx, Nov. 28 through Dec. 2 at the Historic Asolo. 360-7399.
42nd Street. Those tapping feet are over at the Players Theatre in a production of the quintessential backstage musical, Nov. 29 through Dec. 9. 365-2494.
Greetings. Tom Dudzick’s popular play about one family’s unusual holiday visitation runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 9 at the Island Players. 778-5755.