Charlie Huisking:

A Brother’s Loving Memorial

When Sarah Huisking was growing up in Sarasota, some of her happiest times were spent in the late Gothic-style Sarasota High School building facing U.S. 41 near downtown Sarasota. A 1960 graduate of the school, Sarah was in the National Honor Society and on the swim team. But her favorite subject was art, an avocation that enriched her life even during the battle with cancer that she lost in 2008.

When her brother, Charlie Huisking, was looking for an appropriate way to honor Sarah’s memory, the answer came to him immediately: a $250,000 commitment to Ringling College of Art and Design to create the Sarah F. Huisking Art Studio. The gift will be fulfilled in part through a fund established by Charlie and Sarah’s parents. Fittingly, the studio will be in Sarah’s high school building, which Ringling College is transforming into the Visual Arts Educational Center, home of the Sarasota Museum of Art (SMOA).

Charlie describes his sister as an “incredibly generous and caring person.” Most of her paintings, which included landscapes and portraits done in oils and water colors, were gifts to others. “In fact, a week before she died, she was in art class working on a painting of my schnauzer,” Charlie says. “It’s become one of my prized possessions.”

“Sarah loved Sarasota High, she cared about historic preservation, and she was an avid painter,” says Charlie, a former arts writer for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

“As a reporter, I covered Ringling College for years and wrote some of the first stories about its decision to join forces with the Sarasota Museum of Art. So, this project seemed like the perfect memorial.”

Photograph by Barby McKown