Monday, April 15, 2019

Saint Amands Key

Pam Schwartz and I traveled down to Lido Key on the west coast of Florida near Sarasota. Saint Amands Key is the ritzy shopping district and we were going to meet a travel reported who was writing about Florida travel for her mid-Western paper. While Pam explored for a bit I sketched in the center of town where these Greek statues were arranges in a circle. A man in a bright yellow shirt sat reading the newspaper while smoking a cigar.

Property on the island was originally purchased by Charles St. Amand in 1893, who used it for fishing in the gulf and the bay. The name of the island, St. Armands Key, was based on a misspelling of his name. Years later, the circus magnate John Ringling bought land on the island to build a large residential development. His plan was to build a shopping center around a circle in the middle of the town. Due to the intervening Florida land crash, the Depression, and World War II, it wasn't until the fifties that the area really began to take off. 

Many of the statues date back to the twenties reflecting John Ringling's belief in bringing art and culture to the city of Sarasota. His travels to the Renaissance cities of Italy inspired this vision. The classical sculpture he saw combined the realistic portrayal of individual beauty and the humanistic aspects of localized beauty. Sculpture was a key component of his vision as he began marketing lots on St Armonds Key in 1927.

One of the statues in my sketch, standing in front of a beach shop at the corner of John Ringling Boulevard and St. Armands Circle is, Asclepius, the god of medicine and one of the seven virtues. Allegory of Sarasota, Its Seven Virtues was conceived and designed by Edward Pinto and was dedicated on Feb 2, 2008. Also in my sketch is Music, created by Ewald Judt. This statue  represents the performing arts.

The Save Our Statues (SOS) project’s goal has the goal of preserving the statues John Ringling purchased. Twenty-one new statues were added in 2007 to enhance his legacy. Today, St. Armands Circle is a hub of activity for the island that is otherwise filled with mostly posh residences. The beach, sitting on Lido Key, on the Gulf of Mexico is only a few blocks away.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at