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3.08.2021

                              

Ringling...the mere mention of the word conjures up images of clowns, the big top, the midway, cotton candy and elephants, always the elephants. Most, with the exception of those who have done some research into the name Ringling, would be surprised to associate the name with fine art as well.

Located in beautiful Sarasota, Florida, The John and Mable Ringling Museum is a remarkable place of grand architecture and landscaped grounds that comprise an odd combination of Renaissance art and circus whimsy. Somehow these two contrasting philosophies are mingled together to form a unique and alluring combination here. But, we all know that eclectic is the legacy of the showman that was John Ringling. He was born in McGregor, Iowa, on May 31, 1866, the sixth of seven surviving sons and daughters born to August and Marie Salomé (Juliar) Ringling. Five of the brothers joined together and started the Ringling Bros. Circus in 1884. The art museum which was his legacy to the public, and his devotion to his wife and her vision of Cà d'Zan, their private residence, created an experience that will have you stepping back in time. From strolling past calliopes long silent, to the bedrooms of the main house, preserved like snapshots of a bygone era, guests and visitors, with this a glimpse into the past are transported to a simpler time. Then taking in the priceless art and architecture of the museum of art, you are whisked on a journey to John and Mable's love of the Italian Renaissance. Very few households could boast their own gondola, but theirs was moored to the Venetian style boat landing built at the rear of Cà d'Zan. Such was Mable's obsession with all things Italian. Sarasota, with its surrounding islands and keys has much to offer visitors and vacationers, from the warm sandy beaches, or St. Armands, a dining and shopping mecca also developed by Ringling and set amidst the tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico, to art, culture and old world Florida elegance.

Ringling Museum History

John Ringling, one of the five original circus kings of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, was blessed with entrepreneurial genius and through his success with the circus and other investments, became quite wealthy. In 1911, John (1866-1936) and his wife, Mable (1875-1929) purchased 20 acres of waterfront property in Sarasota, Florida. In 1912 the couple began spending winters in Sarasota and later decided to build a home there. Their property included a house built by one of Buffalo Bill’s circus managers, Charles Thompson. The Ringlings dreamed of helping Sarasota develop into a metropolitan boom town and they became involved in the community, bought real estate, and eventually owned approximately 25 percent of Sarasota’s total area.

The couple’s first project in Sarasota was the splendid Venetian Gothic mansion Cà d’Zan, built between 1924 and 1926 for a then staggering sum of $1.5 million. Mable had developed an affection for Venetian buildings on their travels and collected sketches and photos to incorporate into the design of the house which reflects both her and John’s taste and passion for opulence. She supervised the construction of the house with architect Dwight James Baum, designer of several New York mansions.

In the spirit of America's wealthiest Gilded Age industrialists, John Ringling gradually acquired a significant art collection, including paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Velàzquez, Poussin, van Dyck and other Baroque masters, as well as rare antiquities from Cyprus. He built a palace for his treasures in a 21-gallery Museum of Art on his Sarasota property.

The Florentine style building emulates the Uffizi Gallery and was specifically designed to house his collection of European paintings and art objects. The Ringlings had accumulated a treasure trove of objects, the result of many trips to Europe while searching for new circus acts. For years they acquired columns, architectural details and many fine art pieces. The result is a museum with a courtyard filled with bronze replicas of Greek and Roman sculpture, including a bronze cast of Michelangelo’s David.

John Ringling bequeathed his art collection, mansion and estate to the people of the State of Florida at the time of his death in 1936.

For nearly ten years after John Ringling’s death, the Ringling Museum was opened irregularly and not professionally maintained. Cà d’Zan was used privately and remained closed to the public, while the State of Florida fought with creditors over the fate of the estate. By 1946, the State prevailed, and title was transferred to the people of Florida.


In 2000, Ringling’s original $1.2 million endowment had hardly grown to $2 million. Governance was transferred from the State of Florida’s Department of State to Florida State University establishing the Ringling estate as one of the largest museum/university complexes in the nation. As part of the University, the Museum has experienced a rebirth. In 2002, when $42.9 million was provided through the State for new buildings, it came with a condition that the Ringling board raise $50 million in endowment within five years. Impossible as the task then seemed, more than $55 million was donated or pledged by 2007. The transformation that culminated in 2007 restored all the existing buildings and expanded the Estate with four new buildings on the Museum’s Master Plan: the Tibbals Learning Center, the John M. McKay Visitors Pavilion – housing the Historic Asolo Theater, the Education/Conservation Building and The Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing. The Museum’s financial footing was also secured with the beginnings of a healthy endowment.

Cà d’Zan
The Ringlings' dazzling palatial mansion is a tribute to the American Dream and reflects the splendor and romance of Italy. Described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be built in America, Cà d’Zan has 56 incredible rooms filled with art and original furnishings. With its Venetian Gothic architecture, the mansion is a combination of the grandeur of Venice’s Doge’s Palace, combined with the Gothic grace of Cà d’Oro, with Sarasota Bay serving as its Grand Canal.

In 1924, construction began on Cà d’Zan, which means “House of John” in Venetian dialect. The house was completed just before Christmas 1925, at a cost of $1.5 million.



John and Mable Ringling greatly admired the unique architectural style of the Danieli and the Bauer-Grunwald hotels in Venice, as well as the palaces that face the Venetian canals. This architectural style, called "Venetian Gothic," greatly influenced the Cà d'Zan's design, which architect Dwight James Baum and builder Owen Burns helped bring to Sarasota for the Ringlings.

Mable Ringling had an oilskin portfolio filled with postcards, sketches, photos and other materials that she gathered on her travels to aid the architect with his design.

Cà d’Zan is 200-foot long encompassing approximately 36,000 square feet with 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms. The structure is five stories and has a full basement. The pinnacle of the structure is the 81-foot Belvedere tower with an open-air overlook and a high domed ceiling.

Cà d’Zan is constructed from terracotta “T” blocks, concrete, and brick, covered with stucco and terracotta, and embellished with glazed tile. The original roof was made from 16th century Spanish tiles imported by the builder Owen Burns. The bay front terrace is made of domestic and imported marble. In April 2002, comprehensive restoration and conservation was completed on Cà d'Zan. The six year, $15 million initiative restored the mansion to the era of Mable Ringling.


The Circus Museum
The Circus Museum celebrates the American circus, its history and unique relationship to Sarasota. Established in 1948, the museum was the first in the county to document the rich history of the circus. View colossal parade and baggage wagons, sequined costumes, and a sideshow banner line that document the circus of the past and of today. See memorabilia and artifacts documenting the history of The Ringling family circus, John Ringling as the Circus King, and the greatest circus movie, The Greatest Show on Earth, which was filmed in Sarasota. Enter the Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center and see an exhibition of circus posters. Ranging in size from window to barn sized, these colorful posters were plastered on buildings, walls and fences all across America and broadcasted in no uncertain terms that the circus was coming to town.

About the Ringlings

Mable Ringling
Mable Ringling, wife of the well-known circus man, was born Armilda Burton. Little of a personal nature is known about her and she has been described as a non-flamboyant woman because she did not seek the spotlight in either society or show business, yet one visit to Cà d'Zan, the magnificent house perched at the waters edge, and you might wonder if Mable was perhaps a closet flamboyant. Opulence and ornate don't begin to describe the decor of this unique and historic house. Born in Moons, Ohio on March 4, 1875, she had four sisters and one brother. She had strong ties with her family, who visited Sarasota often or moved to the area. Although Mable had a less direct hand in the formation of the Art Museum than she did with Cà d'Zan, she was listed on the Art Museum's charter as a Director and the Vice President of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Corporation in 1927. Mable died on June 8, 1929, at the age of fifty-four. Her marriage to John was one of strong affection and loyalty. They shared a love of things Italian, and Sarasota is fortunate they chose to build here two monuments to their fascination and interests: the Cà d'Zan ("House of John") and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

John Ringling
Although John began his career at 16 performing as a song and dance man, he moved to overseeing the circus route. After he persuaded his brothers to convert the show from wagons to rail in 1890, The New York Times observed, "he became a human encyclopedia on road and local conditions." It was a driving ambition that propelled the Ringling Bros. Circus into a world-class show crossing the country in nearly 100 rail-cars each season. In the 1920s, Ringling joined the Florida land boom, buying and developing land on the Sarasota Keys. He attempted to make Sarasota a fashionable metro-resort to rival those on Florida's popular East Coast.

With his wife, Mable, Ringling began accumulating a collection of Old Master paintings that they displayed in their homes in New York City; Alpine, New Jersey; and Sarasota. In New York's crowded auction rooms, they found a rich source of furnishings, tapestries, and paintings from the homes of wealthy and prominent families. In the 1920s, the Ringlings traveled annually to Europe to locate new circus acts, while also making purchases of art objects. An imposing figure, John Ringling stood more than six feet tall. One journalist wrote, "John Ringling is not your chatty type of man...It is no wonder that he is the least-known element in his minutely publicized business." In dress, he was elegant and preferred tailored English-made suits. He enjoyed fine Cuban cigars and his own private-label whiskey.

~
Pretty cool stuff huh? And you thought it was all about the elephants...Ok in my best Ringmaster voice: "Ladieeees aaaaand gentleman of aaaaaall ages! The most stupendous....The most colossal.....the most death defying act under the big top...I direct your attention to the trapeze high above the circus floor......" cue circus music............

As always, Bon Appetit,

Lou

To learn more about the Ringling Museum of Art , Ca d'Zan and the Circus Museum visit their website : www.ringling.org

3.05.2021

An evening with Arturo Sandoval

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As a musician with roots in Jazz & Blues, when the opportunity arose to sit down with Arturo for this feature, I jumped at the chance. This is a man I have long admired, first as a person of conviction, secondly as one of a handful of the most elite and gifted musicians that the music world will ever know. He has played with a list of incredible music legends (He winked at me and asked me not to call him that, explaining to me to him that means, "You are either old or dead.") from Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Woody Shaw, Michel Legrand, Bill Conti, and Stan Getz to Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Rod Stewart and Alicia Keys amongst many others. He has performed with Celine Dion at the Oscars, John Williams with the Boston Pops and in the Super Bowl with Tony Bennet and Patti LaBelle.

Granted political asylum in 1990 and US citizenship in 1999, Sandoval and his family now call Miami, Florida home. A protégé of the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, Sandoval was born in Artemisa, a small town in the outskirts of Havana, Cuba, just two years after Gillespie became the first musician to bring Latin influences into American Jazz. He began studying classical trumpet at the age of twelve, but it didn’t take him long to catch the excitement of the jazz world. He has since evolved into one of the world’s most acknowledged guardians of jazz trumpet and flugel horn, as well as a renowned classical artist, pianist and composer.

Arturo has been awarded 4 Grammy Awards, 6 Billboard Awards and an Emmy Award. The latter for his composing work on the entire underscore of the HBO movie based on his life, “For Love or Country” starring Andy Garcia. He is one of the most dynamic and vivacious live performers of our time, and has recently been seen by millions on the Grammy Awards performing with pop-phenomenon Justin Timberlake as well as on the Latin Billboard Awards with the gifted Alicia Keys, where he was awarded his 6th Billboard Award for “Best Latin Jazz Album”.

Not only a tenured professor at Florida International University, he works nationally and abroad with innumerable institutions and their music departments offering several scholarships, exercise books, clinics and seminars, and has rendered a considerable amount of time working with the NARAS educational program.

Sandoval is also a renowned classical musician, performing regularly with the leading symphony orchestras from around the world. Arturo has composed his own “Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra”, which can be heard on “Arturo Sandoval: The Classical Album.” Also, he has been chosen to perform with the foremost orchestras on primetime television, and was asked by John Williams to record on Williams’ original Trumpet Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra. His classical artistry has earned him the respect and admiration from the most prestigious conductors, composers and symphony orchestras world-wide.

During the course of our chat, Arturo spoke of his love of Cuba, his family, and of course, we being who we are, his love and memories from his childhood and the Spanish cuisine prepared by his grandmothers, mother and now, his wife. I feel privileged to have been given access to this wonderful man and his zest for life. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.

An Evening with Jazz Legend, Arturo Sandoval



Namaste,
L



3.01.2021

Diversity

The idea for this post, came from my going through my readers/follower list, when I had a followers list. Years ago...before I was banned permanently from twitter for calling Chelsea Handler a derogatory name. My bad.................for saying it out loud.......she's def the derogatory name, she's the damned poster child......But I digress. 

I had quality not quantity. I like that. Almost 20k of the top A List Media, Corporate, Celeb, Chefs and Influencers. Met some great folks still conneected through linkedin. I'm better for it. Forced my hand to spend 6 years in the wilderness. Oh and just some personal advice, take it or leave it: Get the hell off twitter. Facebook we can manage. With good uplifting wholesome content no one can stop us. Twitter is a 140 character shithole that will give a disclaimer should I post 'The Our Father,' so as not to offend liberals and preferred 'VERIFIED" terrorist groups and countries. Get the hell off twitter.

So I used to regularly go through my readers/follower list as I was saying above. Something I would often do, and one of the few upsides to my obsessive-compulsive behavior. Besides my purely base human need to be nosy about what's going on, I justify myself by rationalizing that Kitchen Rap is a conduit for information and discussion. While that may be true, in reality, I did and do it for another reason completely. Those first two reasons I just mentioned are just a resultant upside. "Sauce for the goose, Mr Savik, Sauce, for the goose."

T
he real reason I go through my follower list is PSYCHGRAPHICS, to find out Who my readers are, what they like & why did they actually follow me? To get to know them. Was it a piece of information? Was it a quote? Was it a referral? I attempt to provide information everyday and, to a select segment of the population, specifically. Though I could very easily click what's trending and pass along information based upon that alone, and some do, that wouldn't necessarily tell me what's trending with my followers.

That said, I am amazed at the absolute diversity of my followers. Different ethnic backgrounds, different countries, different languages, different races, creeds, political views, men and women alike. Pretty humbling actually. You name it and those that have stuck with me exemplify the full spectrum of life on this planet. Now I don't think that it is because of my wonderfully caustic personality and rapier like wit. So, if I look at it carefully, I can only come to one conclusion. It's about the passion. For Life, Food, Knowledge, Wisdom, about anything. My list of diverse topics to explore is endless. My hunger and thirst for more understanding, of myself as well as the Universe, will never be satiated by merely knowing, the two being distinctly seperate things. I need the WHY? Always have.

Knowing something in no way equals understanding it. Look, I'm just some guy from Jersey, living in Paradisee, who sometimes writes about stuff I really love. And always centered around Food...for the Body, Food for the Brain, Food for the soul.<-you like what I did right there...nice tidy bow.⧓ 

Cuisine was very important to the politics and very culture of life for years. Did you know in 1555,  Nostradamus (1503-1566) published his best-known book of prophecies, “Centuries Astrologiques" as well as “Excellent er Moult Utile Opuscule a tous necessaire qui desirent avoir connaissance de plusieurs exquises recettes.” (An excellent and most useful little work, essential to all who wish to become acquainted with some exquisite recipes). Well, now you know. Go amaze your friends on your breadth of culinary trivia knowledge.  Don't snicker. You know some of you will use it. I did, just now.

T
he dinner table is where treaties were written, alliances made, scholarly discourse engaged in. Ideas that changed the world, in most cases happened at a dinner table, or at a campfire, over a meal. For most now though, eating has become just a means of sustainence, fuel.
As a self titled gourmet and food snob, I now care very much what I'm eating, especially with friends. However, I'm comfortable in the fact that my predilection for fine cuisine now simply makes the social act of sharing a meal...more enjoyable. 

The next time you want to connect, re-connect, apologize, congratulate, or just shoot the breeze, do it over a meal. Life becomes much more civil with shared experiences.

Namaste
L

The World Needs Dreamers...

 Just some musings about what has been on my mind lately.

Watching the news and what trends in today's (current times) Social Media world, it is evident that, sadly, when given a choice in today's society, the majority of people, when faced with the decision to do the right thing or the wrong, will inherently choose the wrong thing.

We (collectively) no longer take responsibility for our actions, or are held accountable, as witnessed by our politicians doing whatever they want with no recompense. Nor do we (collectively) have any regard for the consequences of our actions...our culture is rife with admonitions from celebrities, the media, politicians and special interest groups to aspire to all the wrong goals and priorities.

Not being negative here, just relating some observations. Instead of paying it forward, or simply affording our fellow humans the same dignity, or respect, or courtesy that we ourselves would hope to receive, we demand it without ever practicing it ourselves or earning it. The choices we make daily....dictate the life we lead...and our actions toward others determine their actions back toward us. We are the Creators of our own reality.

Just stop and think how different the world would be if we all, including our politicians, leaders and influencers, right down to the 'so called' lowliest among us, chose to stop, breathe and reflect, before reacting. Or, we stopped before we proactively did something and determined to simply do the right thing, regardless of what we might gain for ourselves.

What do you do when no one is watching? What will you do, even if you are not recognized or get 'credit?" How do you treat those that cannot do anything for you in return, or NO LONGER do anything for you, when they are in need? 

You are what you DO...not what you say... not what you post, what you wear, what you buy, what you accumulate or what other people think of you...Be...the change you seek...Dare to say "I am!"

We have the choice to forgive or hold a grudge, to help or not help, to respond with kindness and courtesy or with anger and abuse. It's up to us as individuals to regulate and be in control of our own behavior, well before we seek to change someone else's. 

If we determine, everyday to practice love, tolerance kindness and self control, being responsible for simply our own actions, and it spreads...one human by one human...think what a wonderful change we can effect, like a ripple in a pond slowly spreading out till it reaches every shore.

Pie in the sky you say? A dream you say? Maybe, but I'll start with me. You simply start with you, asking nothing of anyone but yourself and we'll see what we shall see. 


Yes, I am a dreamer filled with hope while still cognizant of the evils and obstacles we as a species face in these trying and contentious times, but I'll not apologize. The world needs dreamers.

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…they change things. They push the human race forward."~ Steve Jobs. 

Care to help me push?

Namaste,
Lou