The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL

Author: 
Carrie Fowler
Curator: 
Michael Newlin
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.                
 
Under normal circumstances, the $1.2 million endowment that John Ringling left with his estate would have grown over time, its proceeds preserving the estate and its treasures. 
 
Managed by government, the funds languished without the benefit of strategic investing.  Meanwhile the local community, convinced that the Ringling Museum was the State’s responsibility, did little to support the Ringling Museum.  Gradually, the care that historic buildings require – weatherproofing, mechanical upgrades, and occasional refurbishing – was put off or handled piecemeal.  As neglect led to crisis, private supporters came forth to keep the Museum open, while dedicated and under-funded staff struggled to fulfill the Museum’s vast potential.  But over time the challenge became overwhelming. 
 
By the late 1990s, the decay from deferred maintenance had reached a critical point.  The Cà d’Zan mansion was falling apart, the roof of the Museum of Art leaked, and the building completed in 1957 to house the Historic Asolo Theater was condemned.  Antiquated security systems no longer provided adequate protection for art.  Weathered footpaths and cracking roads gave the once venerable estate a tired look of ruin.  The future of the Ringling Estate was uncertain.
 
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.  
 

Other things to entertain you on Mark's List

Florida's Best Clothing Optional Gay Men's Resorts

Life in the tropics is all about beating the heat. And what better way cool off than to hang out poolside without clothing? Florida has dozens of clothing optional resorts, but which ones are the best? Here's the Mark's List take on the 5 best (in no particular order).
 
In Key West check out New Orleans House and Island House. New Orleans House is located on Duval Street, right in the middle of all of the action. You can count on a great time poolside or in Key West's biggest Gay nightclub, Bourbon Street Pub. Island House is located on a quieter side street and offers amazing rooms, many of them opening onto the pool and patio. There's also an amazing pool side cafe serving up some of the best food (and libations) on the Island. In Fort Lauderdale, we suggest you get your Gay clothing optional groove on at The Grand Resort and Spa, which offers an upscale atmosphere with amenities that include spa services, poolside cabana bars and plenty of tanning lotion to keep your booty from burning. In Central Florida you can head out into the woods and catch some all over rays at the Sawmill Camping Resort. Sawmill offers cabins and plenty of places to park RVs or pitch tents. There's also a large heated pool, a dance hall, restaurant, several themed bars and plenty of trails to go "hiking" on.



Florida's Gay and Lesbian Beaches

We've given our Florida Gay Beaches Guide a makeover. Florida is surrounded by some of the best beaches in the world. From the cool to the touch quartz sand of Siesta Key to world famous beaches in cities like Fort Lauderdale, St Petersburg and Miami, there is something for everyone. You'll find our guide right here: Florida Gay and Lesbian Beach Guide

All Queer Stand Up Comedy Series Coming to Dekkoo

Produced by Comedy Dynamics and Dekkoo, "OUT on Stage: The Series" features an eclectic lineup of renowned LGBTQ stand-up comedians in six episodes. 

"'OUT on Stage' has been a real passion project for me,” comedian and host, Zach Noe Towers said. “What an incredible experience it’s been to bring together such a gorgeously funny group of queer comedians. Each and every person featured in the content has such a unique perspective and I’m thrilled that we’re being given a platform for those hilarious voices to be heard."

"I don't think comedy is an easy field for anyone, but it can sometimes be especially difficult for those of us with unique, diverse voices. We're a much smaller percentage of the population, stage time can be harder to come by, and often times audiences aren't as willing to give us a chance. Even our peers can present a challenge. Open mics are often peppered with the voices of less progressive people, some of which find humor in homo/transphobic material. I would even be willing to bet that every queer comic out there has had to sit and listen to someone turn their life into a punchline. And this is why projects like "OUT on Stage" are so important. It not only provides a platform for new queer voices on the rise, but it brings us together. It creates a space for diverse voices to flourish and it's so important to have this kind of representation available."

"OUT on Stage" premieres on Dekkoo on Jan 17, 2019.

WATCH:

Out On Stage - Trailer from TLA Releasing on Vimeo.

Dido is Back with New Album Out March 2019

Dido is back with her first new album in five years, the stunning Still On My Mind out March 8th on BMG. This album is Dido’s fifth studio album and was written and recorded in England, a result of the fruitful and incredibly natural production/songwriting partnership with her long term collaborator and brother (faithless founder) Rollo.

"It was simple, I only wanted to make another album if it was with him," said Dido. "It was made in such an easy way, all the vocals recorded on the sofa, a lot of it recorded at home."

Still On My Mind encapsulates a variety of styles and genres, ranging from her love of hip hop to her folk roots, but ultimately the entire record carries a dance and electronic music sensibility, even on the tracks with no beats. At the core, it's about the songs which capture the beautiful essence of Dido personally and emotionally. The first taste of the album is the glorious "Hurricanes." From the first few notes of this powerful track, Dido’s voice has never sounded bigger and better, making you realise how much we’ve missed that sound.

WATCH:

 

Actor Taron Egerton Brings Elton John to Life in 'Rocketman'

Directed by Dexter Fletcher, Rocketman is an epic musical fantasy about the uncensored human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years, starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden and Bryce Dallas Howard. Rocketman opens in theaters on May 31, 2019.

The sexy Brit, who is known for his roles in the British television series The Smoke and the action comedy film Kingsman, brings Elton John to life in this new biopic. Does his performace rival Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody?


 

Eric Leonardos Talks Life After ‘Finding Prince Charming’

The final episode of Finding Prince Charming began with bachelor Robert telling the remaining three suitors, Brandon, Eric and Dillon, that while in college he became an escort for many years. Looking back I still haven’t figured out why Robert kept Dillon around for so long. Dillon even realized that his connection with Robert wasn’t very strong, which ultimately led to his departure. 

For the last few weeks leading up to the finale the chemistry between Brandon and Robert was palpable. I thought for sure he would be the one Robert picked, but I was wrong as Robert picked Eric. We caught up with Eric Leonardos to talk about his time on Finding Prince Charming and what's ahead for him. Read the full interview: Eric Leonardos Talks Life After ‘Finding Prince Charming’ 

MANCANDY: Bisexual Adult Film Star Talks Sexual Fluidity

Jaxton Wheeler is not only one of the sexiest (have you seen that hairy body and those legs? DAMN!), and hard working men in Adult Film, but it turns out he is also a nice guy! He has been in over 70 scenes and was nominated for most masculine at the Grabby’s and was awarded best group scene many times. In addition, he was voted AEBN #1 model for sales worldwide. He also trended earlier this summer as part of the “Right in Front of my Salad?” meme. Yep, that was Jaxton in the kitchen!



Check out an interview with Jaxton Wheeler as he prepares for a Labor Day Weekend appearance at the world famous Boardwalk in Fort Lauderdale.
 

Mark's Mancandy: Fitness Model Jose Lazaro

Fitness model Jose Lazaro, 19, is originally from Cuba and has lived in Miami for the last nine years. He describes himself as very optimistic, energetic and determined. Find out how this Latino hottie stays in such great shape and check out the sexy photos from his latest photo shoot (Photos Dale Stine). 

Six Healthy Foods That Satisfy Every Urge

In order to achieve maximum fitness and keep those juices flowing in all the right directions, a healthy diet is a key ingredient to the toughest workout regimen. Although some sacrifices must be made, eating well doesn’t have to be completely boring or gag-inducing. These six healthy foods will not only help steer you on a healthier path, but also allow you to satisfy your underlying urges along the way!

Adult Film Star Rocco Steele Tackles HIV Stigma

Although research and support for the HIV/AIDS community has come a long way since the 80s and 90s, a great deal of ignorance and stigma still exists—even within the gay community. With celebrities such as Charlie Sheen and Danny Pintauro (Who’s the Boss?) recently bringing HIV/AIDS into the entertainment headlines, perhaps now is the perfect time for a new, more enlightened conversation on the subject.

Mark’s List spoke with adult film star Rocco Steele, who has experienced his fair share of ups and downs with addiction and living with HIV.  He has, however, used these personal experiences as a catalyst to promote HIV awareness and education. Read the full interview after the Jump: Adult Film Star Rocco Steele Tackles HIV Stigma

HOT LIST: Fort Lauderdale's Top 100 Restaurants

South Florida is fortunate to boast a wide variety of amazing restaurants, diners and cafes to satisfy every palate and every budget. It’s pretty much impossible to narrow the best ones down to 100, so let’s just call these some of the favorites. Find out which restaurants made the list: Fort Lauderdale's Top 100 Restaurants

Support our Supporters!