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Sarasota struck a chord with composer Lera Auerbach PAGE 2




Spotlight: Ringling wood carvers PAGE 4

‘SPARCCle by the Bay’ PAGE 11


by Robert Plunket | Contributing Writer

Photo by Heather Merriman

Heroes and villains, con men and a pop star — they’ve all called this Lido Shores mansion home. HOME&GARDEN COVER STORY CONTINUED ON PAGE 8





by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

COMPOSER OF NOTE Sarasotan Lera Auerbach’s life is composed of unique opportunities that led her to become a composer and concert pianist in high demand.


Photo by Mallory Gnaegy

“I love this place,” Lera Auerbach says of The Hermitage. “I think it’s one of the jewels of not just Florida, but it is an incredibly important residency in the U.S.”

he first time composer Lera Auerbach came to Sarasota was to visit the Warm Mineral Springs in 2009. She went swimming one foggy morning, and when her head breached the salty surface she heard beautiful, sad singing in the distance. Unable to see through the fog, she swam over to where a group of elderly Ukrainian women was singing a folk song. Inspired, Auerbach swam to the shore and immediately began notating what she had heard, later asking the group of women to tell her the words. It was perfect for Auerbach’s current opera composition at the time, “Gogol” because the character Gogol is Ukrainian-born. The signing inspired a scene in the opera. Auerbach will share other stories surrounding her work in a presentation Thursday, Dec. 12 at the Historic Asolo Theater. The event will showcase the 40-yearold, Russian-born composer and concert pianist’s art. The modern


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// ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT composer is in high demand internationally to compose works for famed groups such as the Royal Danish Ballet and the National Symphony Orchestra. The 2009 visit sold Auerbach on the area, and she bought a vacation home here a month prior to her residency that year at Hermitage Artist Retreat. It’s a place where national artists of all disciplines are nominated to live and work in the serene setting of Manasota Key. Coincidentally, the home she bought was just down the road from the Hermitage. And, when her New York home and studio — including her piano and manuscripts — burned down the last day of her fourweek work residency, it was as if the world was telling her something: Just stay put. The more time she spent in Sarasota over the next four years, and the more fresh Gulf air that filled her lungs, the more she felt at peace. This fall, she bought a new permanent home here with her husband, Rafael DeStella, their dog, cat, ferret, guinea pig and an eventual aviary for birds.

Personal independence

It’s not the only time in Auerbach’s life that greater forces took her somewhere new. It’s how her career took off in the first place. Auerbach came from a family where generations of musicians preceded her, on both sides of her family. The same time Auerbach learned to read in her hometown, Chelyabinsk, Russia, she learned to notate. And at age

4, as a child would, she’d dream up stories, but hers were illustrated with sounds. She remembers one tragically romantic story she wrote based on a poem by Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov about a sinking ship. By age 12, her community staged an opera she wrote. At age 17, before the Soviet Union dissolved, she won a cultural exchange contest that granted her the opportunity to travel to the United States and perform a tour of concerts. Before this trip, she had never traveled anywhere, she spoke no English, had no money, and the only person she knew of in the United States was an acquaintance of her mother’s. During the trip, her isolation continued as she traveled under the guard of a KGB group, where one untrusting man wouldn’t let her talk to fans following a performance. Feeling a surge of independence, she proudly told the man that America is a free country and she can talk to whomever she wants. So, when the other teens on the tour got to New York, and the rest of the group went shopping, they forbid Auerbach from going, instead leaving her in the hotel room. But, things have a way of working out for her. “I had this sense, this feeling of freedom,” she says. “I sensed it so strongly and felt I needed it as air. I had this gut feeling that this is the place for me.” With that gut feeling, Auerbach called her mother’s acquaintance, introduced herself

IF YOU GO Lera Auerbach featuring cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan In partnership with Hermitage Artist Retreat and The Ringling’s Art of Our Time When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 Where: Historic Asolo Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Road Cost: Tickets $5; free to museum members, same-day ticket holders and students Info: Call 360-7399


Narek Hakhnazaryan and asked to be introduced to other musicians. After this friend called another, Auerbach ended up playing for faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, which was closed at the time. She played an uncustomary informal audition and was accepted on the spot. Within one day’s time, Auerbach learned she could either stay in New York or return home, stifling the opportunity — and her protective parents gave their blessing for whatever choice she made. “The whole trip was a miracle,” she says. “…If I didn’t take (the opportunity) it wouldn’t have repeated itself.” Without knowing when she would be able to see her fam-

ily again, if ever, she made the leap. It was the Fourth of July, and Auerbach marks it her own day of independence. She transferred to Julliard the following year and was able to see her family five years after leaving her homeland.

Future compositions

Today, Auerbach’s plans for the future consist of finishing the pieces she commissions six years out. She’s working on a 21st century take on the opera “Eugene Onegin,” named “Tatiana,” for choreographer and director of Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier. He’s one of the first big names to begin commissioning Auerbach, and they’ve been collaborating for 10 years. The other big ballet they collaborated on, “The Little Mermaid,” won the 2012 Echo Klassik award for best DVD recording. The award is the European equivalent of the Grammy’s.

Before she can get to that piece, she’ll perform at Historic Asolo Theater. It wasn’t until a recent trip to Sao Paulo, where Auerbach is the composer in residence at the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, that she picked up a guest soloist for her Hermitage program. The Brazilian orchestra performed a three-day profile of her work, in which Auerbach also performed. She performed one of her own pieces, “Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 69” with cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan. Hakhnazaryan won the 2011 XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition, making him one of the most in-demand and sought after cellists of recent time. “It was as if he grew up with this music,” she says. And as fate (and fortune) would have it, he didn’t have a concert on Dec. 12 and decided to join her program. Life always seems to work out for Lera Auerbach; she always seems to strike the right note.

I had this sense, this feeling of freedom. I sensed it so strongly and felt I needed it as air. — Lera Auerbach

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by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

Greatest whittle show on Earth The Circus Museum wood carvers are part of the only living exhibit at The Ringling. They carve on-site every Thursday morning, but their camaraderie is the best part of the display.

Photos by Mallory Gnaegy

A few of the The Ringling’s woodcarving shop’s volunteers: Don Welch, Nora Sellmer, Marty Rosen, Martha Kelley (painting volunteer), Don Haynie and Manfred Klatt


ccasionally, a family of tourists will stop by The Ringling’s Circus Museum woodcarving shop. The guys (and one woman carver) love it when children visit. It’s as if they’re waiting for one question in particular: “What is that?” a child asks them regarding the to-scale camel sculpture they have been carving since 2008. “It’s a giraffe,” one of the volunteers responds. The children usually know better, but the carvers always try to put it past them. Both parties involved get a kick out the banter. It’s exemplary of the kind of fun that keeps the dozen-or-so volunteers coming at 10 a.m. every Thursday morning. The best time to visit the shop during season is before lunch. It’s when the wood carvers are in action. Three or four of the volunteers work on the large camel carving, while the other 10 hunch over projects around the periphery. There are a handful of women who come to paint some of the finished products on Wednesdays. The Ringling offers these ornaments and decorative art they create in the gift shop of the Circus Museum. They usually fly off the shelves as quickly as they are produced. This exhibit started more than three decades ago. Five men — Joe McKennon, Bruce Miller, Dr. Alex Aitken, Ed McDonnell, and Bernie Lippner — were The Ringling’s first generation of wood carvers. They began re-creating and salvaging the historic carv-



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// ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT Regularly asked questions and the typical responses you will hear:


What is it? It’s a giraffe. It’s a camel.

proud of their scars and sores. And if Manfred Klatt hears you ask, he might show you his two missing finger tips.

3 — numbers of new members in the past six years

Is it made of fiberglass? No. Once they are painted, they might look like they aren’t made of wood — they are indeed made of wood.

surviving circus wagon was built. You can see it in the circus museum.

Does it have a name? No. Not yet, but they are open to any child’s suggestion. What kind of wood is the camel? Linden wood. How long have you been working

on it? Since Lincoln was in office. We don’t remember. For three years. Did it start out as one piece of wood? No, it started in segments of wood based on a model form. Do your fingers ever get sore? No, and most wood workers are

1879 — the year the oldest-

1979 — the year the newest circus wagon, The Griffin, was built. You can see it at the Circus Museum.

18 – number of tassels on the camel

20 – average hours it takes for one tassel

12 – hours it takes to complete an ornament

Manfred Klatt works on carving the tassels earlier this year in June.

YOUROBSERVER.COM // See a video of the woodcarvers.

4 – people it takes to complete an ornament (one cuts it out, one carves it, one designs it, one paints it)

Above: Marty Rosen holds the sign they use to recruit new wood carvers. They aren’t currently seeking volunteers. Inset: A hibiscus Rosen carved in his free time.

Haynie carved 1,020 Santa Claus ornaments as an artisan on display. All of the volunteers started with woodworking experience. Marty Rosen, 75, the designated camel project manager and designer of the majority of the ornaments, was in advertising and would rush home daily at 5 p.m. to carve furniture and other decorative carvings in his garage. The other men have similar stories; they are retired industrial arts teachers, a policeman, a dentist, a commercial banker, and there have been a couple of FBI agents, to name a few of the careers from which they are retired. They all wear volunteer lanyards with their names, and most of them have additional

merits designating “1,000-plus hours” or even “5,000-plus hours.” They’ve had three new members in the past six years. The newest volunteer and only female carver, Nora Sellmer, started two years ago. It’s a difficult position to get — the group is not actively seeking new volunteers. But when it is, there’s an interview process that involves seeing a craftsman’s work. Sellmer had to take a cabinet door she made off of her own kitchen cabinets to demonstrate her ability. She was a professional sign maker in Vermont and one of few who actually comes in with detailed, hand-carving experience in addition to woodworking. The large-scale works are a great opportunity for woodwork-

ers. “We can make these things (ornaments) at home in our garage, but where are you going to do that?” Dick Dorn asks, pointing to the camel. “Most woodworkers would give their right teeth to come in here (and work on that).” But, most of the guys come for the craftsmanship and stick around for the camaraderie. They occasionally socialize outside of the shop and will go to dinner or on other field trips. They went to see an art show in Venice that featured one of Marty Rosen’s wood sculptures. And there’s always something to talk about in the shop — it’s never quiet. “But we don’t talk politics,” says John Haynie with a laugh.

She’ll SayYes



the elephant, but his name was left off the plaque on the base of the completed carving that lists the names of men who work on them. But, Haynie created the textural folds in the elephant’s skin. “I said, ‘How come my name isn’t on it?’” Haynie says. “And they said, ‘Kid, we didn’t have room!’” It made him mad, so he started making tree ornaments — before that time they didn’t make any smaller carvings. Prior to his time at The Ringling, in Historic Cold Spring Village in Cape May, N.J., a living history museum with a similar woodcarving exhibition,


ings on the sides of circus wagons, chariots and animal cages. They re-created a 1902 Ringling Bros. Griffin wagon, which they completed in 1979. It was the group’s biggest project, re-created using photographs. It’s on display at the museum along with the rest of the bigger pieces the men today create. The group of carvers you’ll find on Thursdays these days is the second generation, although a couple of them (Graham Barkhuff and Don Welch) came around when the first-generation carvers were still carving. After the Griffin wagon and wagon carving in the early ’90s, the carvers started producing the large carousel animal sculptures. These parade outside the wood carving shop and, when completed, become a display in the Circus Museum. Wood carving is a way to demonstrate the old circus art form as a way to prevent it from becoming a lost art. The first sculpture was “Ringo’s horse.” In fact, Barkhuff claims one of the legs as his handiwork. “I got the tail,” Don Welch says, chiming in. The horse was completed in 1999. Then came the baby elephant in 2002 and the tiger in 2008. They’ve been working on the camel for three hours a day, one day a week since 2008. They expect it’ll take another three years. The tree ornaments they make (tigers, snowmen, Santa, elephants, lions and camels — oh, my!) started in 2002 out of spite. John Haynie tells the story. He was around when they started carving




European Traditions

Panelists Tony Stopperan, executive producer; June Petrie, producer; Bradley Battersby, writer/director; Jacob Cooper, actor; Nick Morgulis, director of photography; Lindsay Tornquist, actor; Brendan Ragan, actor

Since 1993

Lucky audience sees unveiling of first full-length feature film by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor There was a full house of Ringling College of Art and Design film students, donors, faculty and interested parties at the producer’s cut screening of “The Lucky 6” Saturday, at the college. A panel of those involved in the creation of the first full-length feature film produced by Ringling College spoke about the process in between four 10-minute segments of film. It wasn’t the final product, but it was enough to wow the audience — especially with a budget of less than $60,000. The production quality involved “a lot of movie magic,” says Producer June Petrie. “It’s all Tony Stopperan’s fault,” says Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design. Stopperan was responsible for the collaborative effort between Ringling College and FSU/Asolo Conservatory For Actor Training — if you’re curious, you can read a profile The Observer produced about Stopperan online at Although they can’t say if the collaboration on a full-length feature film will happen again in the future, it has already opened a lot of

Executive Producer Tony Stopperan and Ringling College of Art and Design President Dr. Larry Thompson

doors. In fact, Stopperan nodded to the fact that famed director Roman Coppola has shown interest in bringing a movie production to the campus. It hasn’t been announced or confirmed, but considering the attendance and vocal outpouring of support from Sarasota Film Festival Board President Mark Famiglio, it might be safe to assume you can see the final product of “The Lucky 6” in the Sarasota Film Festival in April. At least, that’s what the producers hope.

Photos by Mallory Gnaegy

Dr. Murf Klauber, Tana Sandefur and Thomas Savage

Director of Photography Nick Morgulis with Ringling College of Art and Design students Jeffrey Boos and May Todd, who worked on “The Lucky 6.”

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THEATER // ‘White Christmas’ It’s snowing at The Players. Stage snow, of course. The occasion: Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” Dewayne Barrett is the director and choreographer of this sentimental holiday favorite. It’s a musical — and mostly music. The production offers a snappy revue of 16 Berlin standards: “I Love a Piano,” “Sisters,” “Blue Skies,” “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep),” “How Deep is the Ocean” and “White Christmas,” to name a few. Berlin’s tunes are familiar, even to baby boomer ears. The man was a hit machine. The story, thin as it is, basically functions as a setup for his tunes. Said story was lifted whole-hog from the 1954 Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye musical. In case you missed the rerun on Turner Classic Movies, the musical unfolds in the post-World War II period. Two Army buddies (Bob Wallace, played by John Andruzzi, and Phil Davis, played by Joseph Strickland) are now a song-and-dance team. (Highly successful headliners on “The Ed Sullivan Show!”) But, instead of opening in Miami, they wind up going to Vermont to save their general’s dilapidated country inn by putting on a show in the barn out back. (For some reason, this always seems to work in musicals.) Along the way, they fall in love with a sister act (Alana Opie and Tahlia Byers). Do the brothers win their hearts? Do they save the general’s inn? Does it snow? Does Godot show up? The outcome is never in doubt. Barrett directs this period piece with period flair. His high-energy production honors the style of the times. Think tap-dancing chorus lines and four-part harmonies in an alternate theatrical universe where Bob Fosse and Andrew Lloyd Webber had never been born. As to the high-energy performers: Wallace and Strickland make a believable comedy team; they riff off nicely against each other and make you buy it. Opie and Byers alternate between screwball patter and heartwarming moments as the Haynes sisters. In supporting roles, George Naylor makes a suitably crusty General Waverly; Mary Wickes is a scene-stealer as the desk clerk with a Broadway background; Kaitlyn Cairo is endearing as a wannabe child star who


John Andruzzi, Alana Opie, Joseph Strickland and Tahlia Joanna star in "White Christmas." always dials it up to 11; Jolie Rand and Lauren LaBoissiere earn giggles as perpetually giggly chorus girls, Rita and Rhoda; Brian Finnerty is funny as the perpetually angry Dom DeLuise-ish stage manager; Bill Cairo’s taciturn New Englander character has pretty much one line — “A-yup.” But he makes that funny, too. The production’s acting styles and songand-dance routines evoke the 1950s film without being a dead steal. Barrett’s homage offers room for inventiveness and surprise. The costumes and scenery hit the same note — suggestive and evocative without being literal and dull. Kudos to set designer Kirk Hughes, costumer Jared Walker and everyone on the Players’ creative team for engineering this lost world. You get the sense that everyone involved in this had a whole lot of fun. The opening night audience did, too. At the risk of unwrapping the present too early and spoiling the surprise, “White Christmas” offers a big thumbs-up for family values, military loyalty, true love, Christmas spirit and nostalgia. In the world of this musical, all the bad guys were defeated in World War II. The only conflicts are misunderstandings; the only ending is happy. Is it sentimental? You better believe it. It’s like stepping into a giant Christmas card. — Marty Fugate

IF YOU GO ‘White Christmas’ runs through Dec. 22, at Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. For more information, call 365-2494 or visit


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by Robert Plunket | Contributing Writer (continued from page 1)

Heroes and villains, con men and a pop star — they’ve all called this Lido Shores mansion home.


Above: A custom Waterford chandelier graces the entrance hall. Bobby Vinton’s blue velvet drapes frame the view. Right: Marble benches facing New Pass commemorate the home’s previous owners.



arasota has had its share of larger-thanlife characters over the years, and it seems that an awful lot of them have owned the white modernist mansion that catches everyone’s eye on the bridge to Longboat. Topped by a circular room with a 360-degree view, it’s been home to some of the town’s most colorful heroes and villains, and even a pop icon. Phillip Hiss, the community leader and architectural designer who developed Lido Shores and the Sarasota School of Architecture, built the home. Famously avant garde when completed in 1955, the home was where Hiss and his wife, Shirley, raised their family and set the stage for Sarasota’s incarnation as an intellectual town with progressive ideas and a sophisticated visual style. When Hiss helped found New College back in 1960, he donated the home for use


as the official residence of the college president. The idea proved impractical, however, so the house was sold to the Count de Rohan, a French nobleman and film producer. The count glamorized the house, adding an elevator and its signature circular room. He sold it to another Frenchman, Francois Gardinier, a gofor-broke entreprenuer and wine baron who at one point owned U.S. Phosphoric and many of the old resorts on Longboat Key. Gardinier renovated the home to suit his lavish lifestyle; he added a 12-foot-by-12-foot walk-in safe complete with a bank vault door (to accommodate his $20 million art collec-

Photos by Heather Merriman

tion) plus a four-bedroom guesthouse. And then came Dale Murray. Court papers from one of his many legal wranglings described his life as “a Greek tragedy.” Sarasota knew him in his heyday, when, as owner of Chris-Craft, the famous boat builder, he dazzled the town with his deals, private jets and political connections. At one point, he was building ultra-fast boats for the Colombian drug cartel while building even faster ones for the U.S. Coast Guard. This conflict of interest lead to a contract on his life, which accounts for the home’s extraordinary security system, installed with the help of the FBI. But Chris-Craft went bankrupt during the BCCI banking scandal in the late 1980s, and the downward slide accelerated. Murray made the news one last time in 2002 when he was sentenced to prison for failing to support the il-

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Top: In the security command post, the remnants of the FBI-installed 1980s security system. Bottom: The entrance gates to the property were once the doors to a Mexican Colonial church.

Clockwise from above: The swimming pool has an adjacent four-bedroom guesthouse; the dining room seats 18, with a pin spot above each place setting; the living room boasts a marble fireplace mantel from China; the renovated master bath features floor-to-ceiling water views.

legitimate daughter he had with a topless dancer from Kentucky. His defense? He had run out of money. *** The current owners, Ralph and Sherri Trine, sometimes marvel at the unique history of their home. They’re successful entrepreneurs, too, but grounded in a no-nonsense Midwestern work ethic. They have turned the legendary Westway house into a private family retreat of peaceful relaxation, reunions and vacations. When the Trines bought the place in 2003, it badly needed updating and renovation. The bones of the house were excellent, with its modernist beginnings still in evidence. Designed on a grid of 13-foot sections, the rooms are

well-proportioned and complement each other, with a classic simplicity of white walls and glass doors and windows, most facing an extraordinary view of New Pass. The Trines installed a new kitchen and reconfigured the master suite, turning an adjoining bedroom into a spectacular bath overlooking the water. The three guest rooms in the main house are all exactly alike, a concept dating back to Gardinier’s ownership. “He didn’t want any of his guests to feel slighted about getting the second — or third — best room,” Sherri Trine explains. This has been a second home for the Trines. They run a familyowned manufacturing business in Indiana, where they are active

in local philanthropy. They are so active, in fact, that Ralph’s alma mater, Tri-State University, in Angola, Ind., recently changed its name to Trine University. “The house demanded elegance,” Sherri Trine says. She furnished it in white and neutrals so as not to distract from the blues and greens that flood in from the outdoors. The furniture, mostly from Baker, is in a style that suggests French art deco. Decorative items — including the white marble fireplace mantel in the living room — that come from the couple’s frequent trips to China, complement it. They’ve been more than 30 times. The circular room on the third floor still holds many memories of the house’s sixth owners, singer

Bobby Vinton and his wife, Dolly. It was here that Vinton wrote and recorded music. He added the granite-topped bar and a bath, plus a sauna by the pool. The house has provided a bridge between the Trines and the Vintons. The crooner serenaded Sherri Trine with a special version of “Happy Birthday” during one of his concerts, and, though now settled in another home on Manasota Key, he has been known to drop by and reminisce about his Lido Shore days. The Trines are moving on, to a smaller place on Longboat. Like the previous owners, they are leaving some of their own special touches behind. They have placed six marble benches facing New Pass, each incised with the

names of the colorful crew who previously owned the mansion. Sherri Trine says she fell in love with the house the first time she entered through the wooden gates, which were once the doors to a Mexican Colonial church. A row of palm trees leads to the front door, which opens to the home’s grandest room, a twostory entrance hall with a spectacular Waterford chandelier. The enormous window facing the view is framed by a pair of draperies, a relic that dates back to the Vinton days. And, yes — they’re blue velvet. 1415 Westway Drive is listed at $8.5 million. For more information, call Reid Murphy of Developers Realty at 232-3304.

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any restaurants have tried the space on First Street, around the corner from the Sarasota Opera House, but none has stayed open long. Now, a new contender that just may put down roots there is Roast, a restaurant and full bar, that’s taken the neighborhood by storm. In fact, we ate there when it first opened about a month ago, and when we tried to make last-minute reservations for dinner before a concert, we couldn’t get in. When we walked by, we saw a line at the door and a lively crowd at the tables inside and out, in the beautiful courtyard. Open for lunch and dinner, Roast features grilled and roasted meats, seafood, shareable plates, salads, soups and vegetarian and pasta dishes. It also offers catering — the main dining room downstairs and the courtyard area have a capacity of about 50 each — and it also has

a cocktail lounge and a smaller dining room on the second floor that can seat up to 30. Combined it could host a charming cocktail party for as many as 100 people. It’s a fun foodie place with beautiful surroundings. The chef/proprietor, Andrew Thompson, and General Manager Frank Zilleckis call it, “Modern American with a European influence.” Whatever they call it, it’s good and we hope it sticks around a long time.



ur old favorite, the Half Shell Oyster House on Main, has packed up and moved to 5230 University Parkway and changed its name to The Half Shell Seafood House. But, what’s in a name when the food is better than ever? It still has the best, freshest, largest oysters for the best price in town: One dozen raw oysters, perfectly shucked and glistening in their juice, are a mere $13. And, the other day when we were there for lunch, the oysters

Courtesy of LCD Photography

Polo Lounge

were a little smaller than usual (still huge, by most standards, though), so, without saying a word, four more were added to the iced tray, giving us an even 16 for the same price. The restaurant also added some incredible dishes that are packing in the customers for lunch and dinner. Among them is a lip-smacking lobster macaroni, piles of steamed mussels, a whole listing of steamed crabs from king to snow, and to-diefor seared ahi tuna.



he Polo Grill and Bar in Lakewood Ranch has not only refurbished and spiffed up its premises after a short closing this summer, it’s also hired a new chef. Tommy Klauber, the proprietor of Polo Grill, has brought in Stephane Pierre. “His mastery of cooking and his big, warm personality have won over many of our frequent customers and staff. Anyone who has the chance to come out, meet him and try his foods will truly enjoy it.” Pierre, 44, a Belgium native, has more than 25 years of experience in the culinary arts and fine dining. He started out as a fish cleaner at the Michelin-starred Devos Restaurant in Brussels and went on to receive an official appointment by the royal family of Belgium to serve the royal court. He’s racked up a bunch of impressive culinary awards from certified master chef to being named a disciple of the famous Auguste Escoffier and president of the Euro Toques Society.


Polo Grill Chef Stephane Pierre at The Polo Grill is a huge establishment. Aside from the dining room and bar areas, which have been made more beautiful than ever, there’s a huge banquet hall that can serve a variety of configurations and is used for many major events with sit-down capacity for hundreds of diners.

If you’ve been to The RitzCarlton, Sarasota since the restaurant became Jack Dusty, you know two of the people associated with the opening of J.D. were Patrick Bucko and Ruth Hardy. Now the pair is starting a new venture called Off the Hook Seafood Company with a trio of other foodies: Nick and Tracy Melone and Sean Dargin, who’ll oversee the bar. Off the Hook opened about a month ago in the restauranthappy Gateway Avenue — 6630 Gateway, to be precise — and they tell us the new venue is offering local seafood with weekly changes and a latenight menu. Bucko, who was born in Sarasota, has already spent some 30 years in the restaurant business. In fact, he started working at The Pub out on Longboat when he was just 15. Since 1993, Bucko’s been a server, bartender and manager of such important Sarasota landmark establishments as Euphemia Haye, Horse Feathers and the Cork and Bottleshop Restaurant. He’s also worked for Sean Murphy’s group at not only the Beach Bistro, but also the other Eat Here restaurants in our area. He got the Jack Dusty team going about a year ago, and now he’s got his own place with his friends. They are serving up seafood that’s, well, right off the hook. The new restaurant is open from 4 p.m. until close Tuesday through Sunday.


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Black Tie

INSIDE: 21st annual Hot Dogs & Cool Cats Gala PAGE 14

Travis and Lindsay Scheuer

Co-Chairs Pat Good, Carol Chiarella, Lisa Walsh and Sandra Lindqvist


Richard and Barbara Kistler

by Heather Merriman | Black Tie Assistant Editor

Jenny and John Wiseman

Photos by Heather Merriman

The lighted dock and boats at the Sarasota Yacht Club set the perfect scene for SPARCCle on the Bay Sunday, Dec. 8. Carol Chairella, Pat Good, Sandra Lindqvist and Lisa Walsh cochaired the event, which benefits Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center. Guests enjoyed cocktail hour with drinks and hors d’eouvres in the festively decorated lobby,

and some gathered on the patio to enjoy the warm December weather. SPARCC Board of Directors Chairwoman Susan Lanier and President and CEO Olivia Thomas welcomed more than 150 guests as they gathered in the dining room. The dance floor stayed busy the entire evening, with live music provided by Soul Sensations.

Sisters Diane Muir and Joyce Nuehring

Diane and Tim Muldoon

Laura and Eric Christiansen Anna Maria Troiano, Jacqueline Morton and Carol English

Bud Borax and Elissa Soyka








by Black Tie Staff

Man-olo men Brian Bethune and Bennett Maki


Marilyn Bezner and Wendy Rose with the new kettle car.

KETTLE KICKOFF Sheriff Tom and Tracy Knight

Photos by Heather Merriman



he lights of the boats at the Sarasota Yacht Club were the perfect backdrop for Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center’s SPARCCle event Dec. 8, but many guests shined bright inside the party. Notably seen in purple (SPARCC’s signature color) — some even sporting purple toenail polish — was Sheriff Tom


The cookie gang … This gang gathers at Elisabeth Waters’ home every year to bake dozens of varieties of cookies — her recipes. Waters is reported to have more cookie sheets, silpats and other baking toys than Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table combined (and Santa hats for her guests). The most popular item among her bakers this year — includ-

and Tracy Knight, Rosemary Eure, Olivia Thomas, Emily Walsh and Anna Maria Troiano. Also spotted looking fabulous at the event was Jacqueline Morton, who recently suffered a broken kneecap. The injury even hindered her from wearing a custom Oscar de la Renta gown to her son’s recent wedding.

ing Heather Dunhill, Shelley Sarbey, Shirley Lascelle, Karin Silver, Sandy Chororos, Marina Bourantonis, Isa Lambert and Felice Schulaner — were the Rumkugeln (rum balls) … Congrats … Scott George, development director of Community AIDS Network, and John Mason, executive director of Historic Spanish Point, were wed in November in the first same-sex marriage to take place in Tuxedo Park, N.Y., where they


he Sarasota Salvation Army celebrated the kickoff of its red kettle, 22-day holiday fund drive with “The Sound of Hope” kickoff party Dec. 5, at Mercedes-Benz of Sarasota. Guests, including Dr. Arthur and Lynn Guilford and Glenda Leonard, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, photos with the kettle car and signed up to volunteer as bell-ringers. “This is the first year all of the bell-ringers are volunteers,” says

formerly lived. The men have been a couple for more than 30 years … ’Tis the season … The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and new General Manager Damien O’Riordan hosted its annual Holiday Open House Dec. 4. Guests, including Minta Getzen, Anne Weintraub and Carolyn Ann and Doug Holder, admired the stunning (and huge!) Jack Dusty-inspired gingerbread ship, which was the product of more than 200 hours of

Glenda Leonard of Sarasota Salvation Army. The event was designed to attract more volunteers and sponsors. Also new this year is the “kettle car.” Mercedes-Benz of Sarasota has provided a smart car for the organization to use during the fund drive. The car is a “mobile kettle” and will drive around Sarasota accepting donations. Mercedes also has provided a Sprinter van that resembles a sleigh to promote the drive.

work by the Ritz-Carlton pastry staff … The calendar calls … BT is collecting events for the 2014 Black Tie social calendar — if we don’t know about it, we can’t cover it! Email event information to name of your event; group hosting; group benefiting; time, date and place; ticket price; chairperson; contact name; phone number and email; website and event description.

There is a new designer on the scene at Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota. The store celebrated its launch of Manolo Blahnik with an exclusive first-look party Dec. 4, in the shoe department. Fashion columnist Heather Dunhill (rocking a pair of Manolos, of course!) hosted the event, and firstlook shoppers enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks, such as white cranberry martinis, while trying on shoes from the Manolo Blahnik Resort 2014 Collection. “Manolo” men carried trays of Manolo pumps and offered guests compact mirrors wrapped in the Manolo Blahnik at Saks Sarasota launch logo. Pastries by Design created an incredible cake, a red Manolo pump atop a shoebox — it looked so real that a customer grabbed the shoe, breaking it in half. Spotted shopping at the event were Lesley-Ann Morris and her mother, Dorothea, and Kyla Weiner (with cutie daughter Amara), who treated herself


The Gellner Collection, Robert Wan & Michael Weggenmann

Tarpon Shores D E N TA L

December 19-21, 2013

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Save the Date




(continued from page 11)

Bill and Bonnie Chapman with Susan Lanier and Pat Edwards

Rochelle and George Steassa


Sam Quartermaine, Dr. Eddy and Angela Regnier and Erika Quartermaine

Tracy and Andrew Lundin with Dana Duckman

Eddie and Michelle Kaprellian

Photos by Heather Merriman

Susan Lanier, Bernabe Somoza and Gay Zuercher

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// BLACK TIE: CAMERA READY 21ST ANNUAL HOT DOGS & COOL CATS ‘LAUGH YOUR PAWS OFF!’ GALA Benefiting Humane Society of Sarasota County | Saturday, Dec. 7, at Sarasota Yacht Club

 Leanne Yarn and Ryan Perrone

 Jennifer and Bob Rubenzer

Mark and Michelle Burnett with Sonja Viklund and Ed Klein

Photos by Heather Merriman

Co-Chairs Molly Crawford and Chris Voelker

Graham and Jill Edwards with Noel, a Louisiana Catahoula leopard dog

UPCOMING SPECIAL EVENTS at Longboat Key Center for the Arts


2014 Master Classes at LBKCA Community Art and Master Classes at Longboat Key Center for the Arts begin in January Deepen your understanding or learn new techniques in an array of areas, including:

• Drawing • Painting • Figure Sculpting • Jewelry • Photography


Check out our Learning Labs for those just beginning their art exploration. For a complete list of classes and events, go to

DON’T FORGET to RSVP for our first exhibition opening of the season, Marlene Rose, Glass Artist. The opening will be held at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts on Saturday, January, 18 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. To register for classes or to RSVP for our January opening reception, call 941.383.2345 or email

6860 Longboat Drive South Longboat Key, FL 34228 Hours: Tu - Sa 11am to 5pm



 Diana Wilkinson with Skipper 2 and Lolli, terrier mixes from the Humane Society of Sarasota County




Siesta Interiors


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Jamie Guy, James Thermidor, Jeffery Acton, Alan Hsu, Brian Baldwin and Richard Landsaw

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Lighting | All Hunter Douglas Window Treatments

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// BLACK TIE: CAMERA READY MEN, WHISKEY & WATCHES Benefiting Child Protection Center Friday, Dec. 6, at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

Photos by Heather Merriman

Co-Chairs Angie Nutter and Courtney Edbrooke

Jasmar Molina and Emily Demichele

Key Chorale and Circus Sarasota present

Elizabeth Miller and Kristi Quarles

Cirque des Voix

Drew and Barbara Cervasio with Dennis McGillicuddy

Jessica Walsh, Samantha Benna, Mackenzie Mudgett, Amy McKinlay and Jenny Wilkins

Unique & Exhilarating Featuring the 100+ voices of Key Chorale, the Cirque Orchestra and Circus Artists


of Euphemia Haye

In The

 Chris Edbrooke, Matt Otto and T.J. Nutter


Owner and Chef Dave Shiplett of The Sarasota-Manatee Originals Visit For The Recipe And Video


Creek Side

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FRI DEC 13 – SUN DEC 15, 2013 UNDER thE BIg top (tuttle Ave. & 12th St.)

tICKEtS: 941.355.9805 • CIRCUSARtS.oRg


of Sarasota, FL


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Nick Gladding and Dan Bailey

Photos by Heather Merriman

Co-Chairs Mary Mapp and Jessica Richardson

Michael and Jennifer Murray


Jeff and Christine Winsler

Jessica Bailey and Danielle Gladding

Tavia and Bill Ames


Unique, live musical events that entertain, engage and inspire.


Benefiting The Florida Center for Early Childhood Friday, Dec. 6, at Michael’s On East

In the Historic Asolo Theater at The Ringling Museum of Art

Sat/Sun–December 21 & 22–7:30 p.m.

Broadway’s Original “ANNIE”

ANDREA McARDLE With Steve Marzullo, piano

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

A feast of holiday music also featuring baritone Todd Donovan, singers Maria Wirries, and Deborah Berioli, pianist Alan Corey, dancers from the Carreno Dance Festival, Le Voci di Venizia Singers ( Sat ) and Gloria Musicae Singers ( Sun)


Saturday–December 21–2:00 p.m. Only! Gian Carlo Menotti’s Holiday Favorite – One-act Opera



Featuring Deborah Berioli, Todd Donovan, Christopher Culpepper, Joshua Mazur, Andrea Guiaita, Jose Guiaita, Michael Algeria, Mary Jeanne Moorman and Le Voci de Venezia

6630 Gateway Ave, Sarasota FL Corner of Gulf Gate Dr. and Gateway Ave.


Tickets/details 24/7 at

941-923-5570 128515


With additional support from Iberia Bank, WUSF Public Media, The Observer Group, and Spotlight Graphics


Media Sponsor






// BLACK TIE: CAMERA READY 29TH ANNUAL POINSETTIA LUNCHEON Benefiting Sarasota Opera Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Michael’s On East

“Evocative... Stunning... all that and

great music too.”

– Marty Fugate, The Observer Ben Davis and Marissa McGowan, photo: Frank Atura

Music by JEROME

Join us for a one-night-only Cabaret: A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight Featuring the cast of SHOW BOAT Sun. Dec. 15 at 7pm Tickets: $18


Book and Lyrics by

OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II Based on the novel by Edna Ferber Directed by ROB


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Choreography by NOAH

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Nate Najar’s Jazz Holiday With Special Guest Harry Allen

Fri, December 13 at 8 pm

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Nate Najar, guitar, Harry Allen, tenor saxophone, with John Lamb, bass







Social Dance Club | Competitive | Ballroom | Latin

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Tom and Gwen Watson




Tom Barwin and Joan Beach

VISITING ARTISTS DINNER SERIES II: DAVID GREILSAMMER Benefiting Sarasota Orchestra Thursday, Dec. 5, at Darwin’s on 4th Photos by Heather Merriman

Barbara Pekow and Gerri Aaron

Mary Boose and Caroline Ryan

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// BLACK TIE: CAMERA READY ‘CHRISTMAS IN CANDY LAND’ Benefiting Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida, Suncoast Sarasota Region | Sunday, Dec. 8, at Michael’s On East

Sarah Robbins, Phil Mancini and Wendy Merriman

Felicity Stack with her twin boys, Walter and Amadeus

Arabella and Kandy Magnotti

Sam Stephens with Santa

Codi and Kelli Elliot with Skyler Haber

Photos by Heather Merriman

Jennifer and Alexandra Rains

A Wish Fulfilled. The Ones You Love.

The Luxury of Time.

Waterfront Resort Living on Florida’s Last Private Island. Start with maintenance-included, energy-efficient homes, designed for care-free coastal living. Combine with resort-style amenities like a planned private clubhouse, pool, cabanas, kayak launch and proposed marina. Top off with the pleasures of Anna Maria Island. It all adds up to the Florida resort lifestyle you’ve been dreaming of. A place to gather family and friends today and celebrate all the tomorrows to come.

No CDD Fees at Harbour Isle! Unlike many of our competitors, Harbour Isle has been developed without utilizing Community Development District (CDD) Funding. This means you won’t see annual CDD assessments on your tax bill, which saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your home! Once you compare, the choice is clearly Minto. Award-Winning Designs | Enduring Quality | Incomparable Value

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12300 Manatee Ave. West, Bradenton, FL 34209 On SR 64. On Anna Maria Sound, just east of the Anna Maria Bridge. Prices and availability subject to change without notice. Oral representations cannot be relied upon a correctly stating the representations of the developer. For correct representations, make reference to the purchase agreement and homeowner documents, including the documents required by section 718.503, Florida Statutes, to be furnished by a developer to a buyer or lessee in condominium communities. Not an offer where prohibited by state statutes. © Minto Communities, LLC 2013. All rights reserved. Content may not be reproduced, copied, altered, distributed, stored or transferred in any form or by any means without express written permission. Artist’s renderings, dimensions, specifications, prices and features are approximate and subject to change without notice. Minto, the Minto logo, Harbour Isle and the Harbour Isle logo are trademarks of Minto Communities, LLC and/or its affiliates. CGC 1519880. 12/2013.

Diversions 12.12.13  

Diversions 12.12.13

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