Selby Gardens’ Marc Chagall Exhibit to Feature Cultural Performances

January 1, 2017


SARASOTA, FLA. – January 1, 2016: In February 2017, an exhibition of Marc Chagall’s nature-inspired artwork will be on display at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which includes masterworks paintings, dramatic living plant display and performances by some of Sarasota’s most beloved performing arts organizations.

Marc Chagall, Flowers, and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams opens February 12, 2017 at Selby Gardens. The exhibit will run for six month through July 31, 2017. The master work painting The Lovers (1937) on loan from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem is center at the exhibit, along with two additional paintings loaned from a private collector that have never before been publicly exhibited: The two private paintings making their public debut in the exhibition are Bouquets of Lilacs at Saint-Paul, (Bouquets de Lilas a Saint-Paul), 1978 and Couple with Lilies of the Valley (Le Couple aux Muguets), 1973.

In addition to the paintings, visitors at the 15-acre, bayfront garden will experience a glass house conservatory where reproductions of nature-inspired stained glass by Chagall will be displayed among living plants, and the grounds of the gardens are being enhanced with flora like orchids, bromeliads, bougainvillea and citrus trees that evoke the south of France, the land that inspired Chagall and where he spent much of the later part of his life.

chagall-nights_504x429Accompanying cultural performances in partnership with Perlman Music Program/Suncoast, Asolo Repertory Theatre, the Sarasota Ballet, the Sarasota Opera and the Sarasota Orchestra will be hosted monthly throughout the exhibition.  The events are grouped under the umbrella title “Chagall Nights” and  tickets are available for $50 Guests, $40 Selby Gardens Members. The evenings include the cultural performances, nighttime tours of the exhibition, as well as hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary craft cocktail, wine or beer. 

“Knowing Sarasota’s passion for the arts, it only seemed fitting to honor some of the great performing arts groups of this area with special performances during this living art exhibit,” said Jennifer O. Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens. “Art and nature are intertwined, and what better place is there to celebrate human performance than in a garden?”

This is the inaugural exhibit at Selby Gardens that will blend nature and botanical-inspired master artwork as part of the Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series. “Marc Chagall, Flowers, and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams” is presented by The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

The first performance will be February 15, 2017 by Perlman Music Program/Suncoast. Alumni from the prestigious youth orchestral program will perform using violins that are part of “Violins of Hope,” a traveling exhibit of 16 instruments once played by those imprisoned during the Holocaust at Nazi concentration camps. This performance is presented by  The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee and the Mazur Family Fund.

In March, the Sarasota Opera will perform indoors at Michael’s on the Bay at Selby Gardens. Guests are invited to explore the grounds throughout the evening and enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

April kicks off with a performance by the Sarasota Ballet on April 5.

The performances extend to a two-week run in April of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed by the Asolo Rep’s FSU Conservatory.  Beginning April 11 and running through April 29, the performance will feature the entire second-year graduate company of the Conservatory, for this telling of  the classic Shakespearean tale of four young lovers, five rude mechanicals, and an army of fairies and spirits who cross paths one magical night in a forest outside Athens. The most beloved of Shakespeare’s plays, the story captures the essence of young—and not-so-young—love. The Conservatory’s production will be directed by Jonathan Epstein, the Conservatory’s second-year acting instructor and resident Shakespeare expert.

“Most of the action in A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes place ‘in the palace wood, a mile without the town,’” says Epstein, “So it’s really pleasing to be performing in the Selby Gardens, a country mile or so from the center of town, in a place within the town but protected, precious, sacred and distinct. Obviously this play brings its magic with it wherever it’s performed, but I truly feel that only in nature, amid nature’s unmatchable fountain of creation, can our imaginations leap unleashed to the soaring truth of the play’s poetry.”

In May, Perlman Music Program/Suncoast returns to the cultural series with a Sunday afternoon performance on May 17.

Finally, on June 14, the Gardens will be host to a performance that is part of the Sarasota Music Festival organized by the Sarasota Orchestra.

Monthly family-themed events – Chagall Family Saturdays – will also be held during the exhibit, along with lectures and classes in painting, photography and horticultural display. A full schedule of events will be updated frequently at

Additional special events, classes and lectures will be part of the exhibit, which encourages visitors to use all five senses, so as to be immersed in the dreamworld created by Chagall in his artwork.

The Gardens’ cafe will offer French-themed food and drink and cooking demonstrations, led by Michael’s On East, the Gardens’ exclusive culinary partner.

While Chagall’s work has been examined many times and in many ways, from his Jewish upbringing to his origins in Lithuania, and as a modern artist inspired by his life in France, this is the first time an exhibition removes those classifications and reviews the artist as a naturalist. The Archives de Marc et Ida Chagall have endorsed the exhibition’s unique study of Chagall’s love of nature. The estate is managed in part by Chagall’s granddaughters, Bella and Meret Meyer.

“My grandfather was in awe of flowers,” said Bella Meyer, who is also the founder and artistic director of Fleursbella in New York City. “When we were children, together with my mother we would always bring him an armful of flowers from a nearby market, when visiting him in the South of France. How exciting to have an exhibition devoted to his love for flowers at the center of a botanical garden where viewers will be able to be inspired by both his art and the color and light of the natural world around.”

Major support for this exhibition has also been provided by the William G and Marie Selby Foundation, The State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs; the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Margot and Warren Coville, Betsy and Doug Elder, BMO Private Wealth Management, Doris M. Carter Family Foundation, Norbert P. and Ann Winslow Donelly and Tervis, Ernest R. Kretzmer, Better-Gro and Hazeltine Nursery. Additional support is provided by Katherine and Frank Martucci, Williams Parker, PNC Private Wealth Management, Roberta Leventhal Sudakoff Foundation, Visit Sarasota County, Alliance Francaise de Sarasota, Charlotte and Charles Perret, Alice Rau and Visit Florida.

Since opening to the public in 1975, Selby Gardens has been internationally recognized for its focus as the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display of epiphytes. Its Museum of Botany & the Arts, housed in the historic 1934 Payne Mansion, has featured artwork celebrating the natural world since 1979.  


About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, epiphytes and tropical plants with a focus on botany, horticulture and environmental education. For more information, please visit Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas, regular admission $20 and $10 children ages 4-17; Members and children 3 and under enter free. Contact us at (941) 366-5731 or  Get social with us on Facebook, Instagram and more by searching @selbygardens.  


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Tags: ballet, chagall, cultural performances, nights, opera, orchestra, sarasota, selby gardens