The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota celebrates 50 years and a surprise comeback



The Sarasota Fine Arts Society, in its mid-50se anniversary this season, recently hosted a cocktail party to mark the occasion and announce a big surprise about a missing piece of art.

The Company, which is responsible for the art collection on display at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall along with many local artists, suffered a loss in 1991, when a painting by famous artist Jon Corbino, which hung in the hall, was stolen. . during the last week of November. (It was likely taken during a performance of the Gatlin Brothers, George Burns, or the Sarasota Choral Society, in case that sparks any memories.) Corbino had been a successful artist for several decades, with works in the collections. the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chicago Art Institute, Carnegie Institute and other museums; he moved to Sarasota in 1957 and lived there until his death in 1964 at the age of 59.

But some things are not lost forever. A treasure hunter named Eric Bowyer, who frequents dozens of clearance sales, stumbled upon a piece during a real estate sale in the Palm-Aire community of Sarasota, recognized the artist’s signature on the painting and brought it down. purchased for $ 25. The owner’s son told him that years earlier a man had asked his mother to store works at her house, but he never returned to pick them up. With his find in hand, Bowyer approached Corbino’s daughter, Lee, who told him about the Fine Arts Society connection. And then Bowyer got in touch with the Society and presented them with the long-missing work of art.

The painting, Palette, which dates from the early 1960s, is painted on an artist’s wooden palette. It will soon be hung up again in a prominent place in the Van Wezel collection. In the meantime, the Society is offering free guided tours of some 50 other works of art on display in the hall, with the next scheduled dates being April 2 and May 7.

By the way, the 50-year-old Society also has a scholarship program providing funds to students of visual arts, dance, writing, music, theater and architecture. And it provides outreach grants to support arts organizations, schools, and children’s programs. If you would like to learn more about these programs or join the Society as a member, visit



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