SB2 Reporting Out: From Underwear to a Giant Rube Goldberg Machine – GOOD ARTS, March 30


Left to right: Panelists Tom Barwin, Jeff Rodgers, Anne-Marie Russell, keynote Nathan Schwagler, moderator Wes Roberts and panelist Steven High. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.


It is no secret that the Sarasota and Bradenton communities pride themselves on the rich culture and spectacular arts institutes that encompass the region. As the home of countless causes bringing all forms of art, dance, music, theater, culinary arts and culture to the region, it only makes sense that we hosted an SB2 symposium dedicated to keeping these institutions alive. The discussion honed in on how to maximize the potential of these institutions by creating energetic spaces to enhance creativity.


Keynote speaker, Nathan Schwagler transports the audience into the mind of Salvidor Dali. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


Last Thursday, SRQ magazine hosted an engaging SB2 GOOD ARTS breakfast symposium at The Francis in downtown Sarasota. After Jay Clarkson of CS&L CPAS welcomed those in attendance, Keynote Speaker, Nathan Schwagler, Co-Director of the Dali Museum Innovation Labs began the discussion with an interactive activity to demonstrate how things were seen through the creative mind of Salvidor Dali by asking the audience to draw a penny merely by memory. The audience struggled to get even a few details sketched out, which proved Nathan’s point perfectly. Once we get used to seeing something enough times, we stop really seeing it. Dali experimented with the multi-dimensional realities of what we see. “Dali read widely. He appreciated the diversity of inputs into his stream of thinking,” Schwagler said.


Keynote speaker, Nathan Schwagler speaks on the importance of creativity in the workplace. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.


Schwagler spoke of the work he directs at the Dali Museum Innovation Labs where he engages with companies to transform their pathways to creativity. A poignant story about his son and his wooden tiger spoke to how easy it is to inadvertently shoot down new ideas. He went on to say that there is work to be done by cultivating creativity in adults and in corporations. “I think creativity is and creative thinking skills are the ultimate 21st-century thinking skill. I think with an accelerated rate of change and disruption everywhere you look, we have got to figure out how you play in this space and that’s what we do at the Innovation Lab at the Dali Museum.”

The Dali Museum Innovation Lab believes in 3 Fundamental Principles:

  1. 1. There is almost always more than one way to solve a problem
  2. 2. Creativity is a natural human phenomenon
  3. 3. Creativity is the essential ingredient for innovation

By utilizing these principles, the Dali Museum’s Innovation Lab strives to get people out of their own way, by thinking and doing differently. “You are the biggest barrier in your creativity. You have more leverage than any other ingredient of the process,” Schwagler stated.


Left to right: Jeff Rodgers, Tom Barwin, Anne-Marie Russell, (center, moderator) Wes Roberts, Steven High and Nathan Schwagler. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan


Between bites, guests picked up thought provoking insight from some of the region’s most inspiring arts organizations: Steven High of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Anne-Marie Russell of the Sarasota Museum of Art, Jeff Rodgers of the South Florida Museum and Tom Barwin of the City of Sarasota. Participants were on the edge of their seats listening to the number of innovative experiences available in their own backyard.


Jeff Rodgers speaks on creating innovative spaces to enhance creativity. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.


When asked about the formative museum experience they most cherished, Anne-Marie Russell of the Sarasota Museum of Art proudly stated, ” It was actually John Dillinger’s underwear that was my first and most compelling museum experience. It was the first time I understood the power of objects to be a repository of memory and fascination.”

To that point, Jeff Rodgers of the South Florida Museum spoke on the power of authentic objects to transform a space. “They are not just places where people with laser pointers point at the stars anymore. They have become immersive digital theaters where we can create any number of experiences and we can invite artists to come in and think creatively on how to use this space. Just like seeing that underwear that sparks some sort of new understanding and new way of seeing things. That is what our space is all about. It’s about giving you access to objects and access to time to think about those objects to spark your creativity.”

As part of the South Florida Museum’s expansion, Rodgers shared that they will be building a large Backyard Rube Goldberg machine to engage both kids and their parents in exploring cause and effect.

The museum space itself, can set the precedence on how the artwork is seen by audience.  “The space really sets up or stages these paintings in a particular way. You know you are seeing important works because the space frames them in that context and gives that work to you,” said Steven High when describing the pieces of art displayed at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

Our region can be described as an arts and culture mecca where innovation is at the forefront. Tom Barwin from the City of Sarasota said it best, “If you look at the geography of the City of Sarasota and if you were to travel from Sarasota Memorial Hospital to the Sarasota Airport, we have 12 incredible cultural institutions and another one on the way. We are a city of 60,000 full-time residents and cities of 600,000 would die for any of these facilities.”


NewGate IB High School students attend SB2 GOOD ARTS . Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.


We would like to recognize the students and faculty from NewGate School who attended last week’s event. Thank you for your engagement and your thoughtful insights!


Representatives from SB2 Series Sponsor The Resort at Longboat Key Club. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


We couldn’t have learned the incredible things from this engaging discussion without our series sponsors: CS&L CPAs, The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Sarasota-Bradenton International AirportThank you for supporting the SB2 series, but most importantly, thank you for the ways you give back and help people in our community each and every day. Your example inspires us.


Representatives from SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAS. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.


Click here to read the article about SB2: GOOD ARTS in SRQ DAILY. A gallery of images from SB2: GOOD ARTS is available online. The 2016-2017 SB2 season will continue on Thursday, May 18 with SB2 GOOD PEOPLE: The Tourism Economy featuring Keynote Speaker Carol Dover, President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. For tickets, visit

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