Ringling College Announces Beginning of Major Renovation on Sarasota Museum of Art, National Search for Museum Executive Director and SMOA ‘THE BASH!’ Date on January 18th 

November 17, 2014 – Ringling College of Art and Design president Dr. Larry R. Thompson and Wendy G. Surkis, president of the Sarasota Museum of Art/SMOA, a division of Ringling College, announced that major renovation work has begun today on Ringling College’s Sarasota Museum of Art (SMOA) in the historic Sarasota High School building.

In addition to approving the renovation plan, the SMOA Board has initiated an extensive search for an executive director for the museum with a recruiting firm with proven experience in the art museum leadership field. 

SMOA’s historic Sarasota High School building has been undergoing an adaptive re-use engineering assessment by structural preservationists over the past two months in preparation for beginning renovation on Monday, November 17th. The SMOA Board intends to preserve the architectural integrity of the iconic high school building and anticipates completion and the museum opening in the first quarter of 2016. 

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 was also announced as the date for SMOA’s ‘THE BASH!’ which will be held on the museum grounds to celebrate the progress made in bringing a modern museum of contemporary art to Sarasota and to look ahead to the future. ‘THE BASH!’ event committee leaders are: Brad and Mary Beth Goddard; Jean Martin and Doc Werlin; Mary Ann and John Meyer; Sherry and Tom Koski; Kat and Florian Schuetz; and Wendy Surkis and Peppi Elona. Brooke Callanen and Dottie Baer Garner, who chaired the inaugural SMOA BASH in 2013, are honorary co-chairs for ‘THE BASH!’

“We are excited that our communities’ support has brought us to this point in the realization of a contemporary art museum for our region,” said Ringling College of Art and Design President Dr. Larry R. Thompson. “The tireless effort and infectious passion of SMOA President Wendy Surkis since well before the keys to the high school were handed over to Ringling exactly six years ago today has been instrumental in bringing this to fruition and facilitating even deeper levels of engagement for Ringling College and our community. As SMOA Board Member and Ringling College Trustee Elaine Keating said, “Ringling College may not have a football team, but the Sarasota Museum of Art will be our football field highlighting contemporary and modern art.””

“The response of our community to the call for support of the SMOA concept was nothing short of remarkable,” said SMOA president Wendy Surkis. “Over 57% of SMOA donors are first-time contributors to Ringling College and ‘THE BASH!’ on January 18th is designed to applaud all of our supporters to date while getting them excited about SMOA’s upcoming debut. We deeply appreciate the support of our community in the SMOA construction campaign which raised $22,531,033.04 and exceeded our goal by over half a million dollars. We look forward to celebrating with you and ‘THE BASH!’ sponsors: PNC Wealth Management, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Rudd International and Sarasota Magazine on January 18th.” 

On Sunday, January 18th ‘THE BASH!’ will be held on the grounds of historic Sarasota High School and represents the first opportunity to celebrate SMOA with the broader Sarasota community and to get further enthralled about what’s to come. Paving the way for SMOA’s anticipated debut, the casual dress event will feature a variety of food and libations, dancing and surprises. The brilliant yellow invitations designed by the Design Center at Ringling College are going out on November 18th. More information is available at www.SarasotaMuseumOfArt.org and interested benefactors and participants are welcome to contact Special Events at Ringling College at smoabash@ringling.edu or 941.309.4728. 

As Sarasota’s first art museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SMOA will interweave exhibitions, educational programs and community outreach initiatives to engage a diverse audience and serve as a stimulating hub for creative discovery. Ringling College and SMOA are transforming the former Sarasota High School building into nearly 60,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 110-seat, multi-purpose auditorium, sculpture court, indoor/outdoor café, classrooms and studios providing education programs for adults and children, and meeting spaces. 

SMOA has already been engaging and educating the community through the ARTmuse program which has featured artists Lisa Hoke and Patrick Dougherty. Their public works exemplified the power of art to engage residents and visitors, with hundreds of volunteers helping both Lisa and Patrick create their works and thousands visiting and walking through their creations. Additional ARTmuse artists were: Judy Pfaff, Seth Randall, Janet Echelman and Lesley Dill as well as Museum professionals Karole Vail, Curator from the Guggenheim and Stephen Brown, Curator from the Jewish Museum. 

‘THE BASH’ committee leaders (L-R): Jean Martin and Doc Werlin; Mary Ann Meyer; Tom Koski; Kat Schuetz; Brad and Mary Beth Goddard; John Meyer and Wendy Surkis. Not present: Sherry Koski, Florian Schuetz and Peppi Elona.