This is the first post in a 3-part series about the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. 

The Ringling Museum is another one of those places I’ve been to a lot. I went there for field trips in school and then my family and I started going on Monday holidays (since there is free admission on Mondays to the art museum). I wanted to write a series about this historical place since it’s such an important attraction in our area. I should probably start with a post that talks about the Museum in general, but I can’t stop myself from first writing about the new exhibit, Beyond Bling. This  is a big change from the usual exhibits of wonderful paintings and sculptures from the past.

In a word, the atmosphere is electrifying. I’ve never been so interested in seeing a particular show at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art before. They really step out of their comfort zone with this one and I think it’s worth it. The art, the movie, the books, the music…it all gels into a total experience. The art is bright and shiny (literally since a lot of it has rhinestones or something similar in it). They have iPods you can use to listen to rap music while you see the exhibit–three different playlists to choose from too, I believe. At the end they have a movie and lots of books to look through. It’s a media explosion!

The hip-hop culture really comes alive for visitors through the art and its descriptions. I love the piece of the speakers with rhinestones, where the description says the artist is trying to convey something that is visually loud. I’ve been thinking about that ever since. It’s really powerful.

The movie is from the beginning of the hip-hop movement and definitely gives you an inside look at what the youths were doing to express themselves. There’s one part where they talk about graffiti being a way to play a game–who can do something faster, higher-up, bigger. Then there’s this part about how the graffiti is personal and tells a story. I thought the break dancing scenes were pretty nifty too.

In researching this post, I came across the Facebook page for the event. I think the page, along with the subject of the exhibit, really shows how the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is evolving. Beyond Bling is a terrific way for the Ringling Museum to mix the old and the new–it creates a little something for everyone. It runs through August 14th.