Visual Art Commentaries


John Chamberlain, EDC template
VIRGINIA HOFFMAN, SRQDaily January 15, 2012

Local art icon John Chamberlain recently made his journey to the great sculpture garden in the sky. His 20 years here is long enough to stake a claim. As a past Sarasotan, his international stature gives credibility to our cultural brand but was taken for granted. Sadly, local obituaries omitted the historical one-man show Chamberlain had at the Ringling Museum curated by Michael Auping, now at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Chamberlain’s sculptures are included in nearly every important contemporary art museum in the world and valued from $750,000 up to $5 million, but beyond the obvious his presence in Sarasota, he has another dimension worth putting on the table for consideration. Long before the Economic Development Corporation existed, Chamberlain created the perfect EDC template for the sort of citizen we should be attracting. He bought property here, built a home, maintained a 10,000-square-foot functioning art studio, hired local artists to manage his studio, crafted his sculpture and purchased his raw material from local resources. He was a one-man art industry. Chamberlain had no economic incentive to move here. Hie had love of the Sarasota water on his boat and his friends here were among the original local art icons who established Sarasota as a Visual Arts town post World War II. These were the mid-century glitterati who wrote books, made music and painted 2nd Generation Abstract Expressionist paintings (the same mid-century glitterati soon to be featured at Art Center Sarasota). In keeping with this cultural legacy of Sarasota, why not establish an effort to create incentives for other artists of Chamberlains caliber to make work here and live among us as further enhancement to our cultural brand? The county could purchase the John Chamberlain compound and declare it our newest county park. Offer free use to Blue Chip artists who would like to live and fabricate their work in this community, with the requirement for them to follow the template established by Chamberlain, hire and buy local.