Light Chasers
Plein Air Painters of the Suncoast

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, Florida 34243

Nearly a century ago John & Mable Ringling purchased 20 acres of waterfront property in Sarasota. They bought a lot of land on Long Boat Key and sold parcels to wealthy friends seeking to escape the cold winters for a sunnier clime.

The Ringling’s wanted a home in the Venetian Gothic style of the palazzo in Venice, Italy. Sarasota Bay was the Ringling’s “Grand Canal”. Ca D’ Zan was built in two years. It is five stories tall and has 36,000 square feet with 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms. This was Sarasota’s castle in 1924. The name Ca’ d’Zan means “House of John”

Painters come to paint the beautiful palace, on the bay. They also paint the amazing banyan trees and Mabel’s glorious rose garden. The rose garden is over 100 years old and is the oldest rose garden in Florida. You will always find roses blooming but mid April you will find the whole garden in glorious bloom.

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There is a lake, a circus museum, a fine arts museum and even a theater with an Italian history! There is a gorgeous sculpture garden with a copy of DAVID front and center. You will recognize many of the statues. There are pots full of bougainvillea all round. They cast beautiful shadows on the stucco walls.

When Light Chasers come to paint at Ringling we are always delighted at the varied subject matter. If you wander the grounds you will find old houses on the side, hidden gardens, the Ringling’s tiled swimming pool and canals with gorgeous grasses that turn pink at different times during the year.

You need a whole day just to explore the museums and the mansion! There are restaurants and facilities. There is parking and little trams that will help you transport your gear to wherever you want to paint! Take a day just to explore the art and grounds. Take another day or two or three to paint even a few of this gorgeous slice of paradise.

Don’t forget to check out the plays at the Asolo Theater and you just might find concerts in the evening at the Ca’ d’ Zan as the sun sets over the bay. There is a lifetime of paintings to look at and to create here at the Ringling Museum of Art.

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