The Bispham-Wilson Arts & Historic District Newsletter
The Art Studio of Colleen Cassidy-Burns

Spring / Summer Edition, Issue No. 1

Studio 41, Arnold Berns


Arnold Berns and Colleen Cassidy-Berns would like to welcome you to the first quarter issue of the Bispham-Wilson Arts & Historic District Newsletter. We hope you'll enjoy reading it and that it will be just the first of many, many to come. We are here twelve months of the year (with little time off for vacation) to help you decorate and enjoy your home or office with our artwork, or help you learn about Sarasota's culture and historic past. As part of our community awareness, we have sponsored local not-for-profit groups such as The Humane Society, The Players Theatre, and The Pelican Man's Bird Sanctuary.

Colleen will help you with watercolor classes, hand painted furniture, original and giclée watercolor, and custom matting and framing. Arnold will help you with original black and white photography or learning about Sarasota's past.

About Arnold's Art

My love of photography stems from a childhood fascination with old black and white movies. I wanted to bring the look and feel of cinema to my artistic endeavors and photography seemed like a natural choice. I have been deeply influenced by the work of James Brady, Man Ray, Henri Cartier Bresson, Bill Brandt, Orsen Welles, John Huston and the early film noir directors.

I seek to capture a sense of story, similar to the types of stories portrayed in the old films. As a child, I would see certain movies over and over again, wondering what thought process the director engaged in as he orchestrated each scene, how much of the film was preconceived and how much was spontaneous, and what role did the individual actors play in creating a shared temporal identity. In my work I think of my subjects as actors, each with a persona that influences the tone of the photographs in a way that results in a plot — a tale — rather than simply an image. I want viewers to question my photographs in the same way they would question a film with a cliffhanger ending: "What happens next?" I also want them to ponder the conjectural events that might have lead up to the scene depicted in the image...a "cliffhanger beginning," if you will.

I feel black and white imagery produces the contrast and compositional clarity necessary to illuminate the stories I want to share in a timeless and classical way. By bringing these elements into high relief, I allow the unfolding drama or tale to become the primary focus.
Dawn Before Darkness  Arnold Berns
"Dawn Before Darkness" © Arnold Berns

I also create infrared portraits for individuals, couples or families that have the look and feel of an ethereal fantasy. The black and white infrared film lends itself perfectly to a certain dreamy quality. These images are portraits, but they're also works of fine art in and of themselves.

For more information about Arnold Berns, call 941-924-5224 or visit his web site.

The Art Studio of Colleen Cassidy-Berns Watercolor Classes

Click here for a listing of Art Classes

The Art Studio of Colleen Cassidy-Berns Watercolor Class

History of the District

The Bispham-Wilson Arts & Historic District is located in Sarasota County at 4613 South Tamiami Trail (US 41) on the northeast corner of Fiesta Street, a few miles south of the City of Sarasota. The district consists of a stately Victorian house (circa 1905), a Texaco gas station (circa 1952) and a garage.

The house was built on land that was platted around 1890. It is a vernacular two-story Victorian and resembles a similar house located in Riverside, California, included in a book entitled 100 Most Important Homes in the United States. The Bispham family, owners of one of the first dairies in Sarasota, made it their home from 1927-1951. Jackson and Katherine Bispham raised their five children there. The beautifully restored house is now home to the Art Studio and Gallery of Colleen Cassidy-Berns.

We hope this newsletter will help us share with you our passion for art and history, and perhaps at the same time we can endeavor to help you with any of your art or history needs. Please come to our galleries and historic grounds and play "Artopoly" with us.
Arnold Berns and Colleen Cassidy-Berns
Arnold Berns and Colleen Cassidy-Berns

In 1952, Nelson and Dorothy Wilson purchased the house and built the gas station adjacent to it. They, too, had five children. The station also meticulously restored and sporting a new moniker "Studio 41," now houses the Gallery of Arnold Berns.

The house was rezoned from residential to commercial in the 1970's. Arnold and Colleen purchased the entire property from the Wilson Estate in 1977. They petitioned the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners to pass a Historic Preservation Ordinance, which allowed them to preserve the buildings and develop them into premier gallery spaces for showcasing fine art and photography.

In 1999, the Sarasota County Historic Preservation Department bestowed a historical designation on both buildings. In the year 2000, it was given the "National Historic Preservation Award" by the State of Florida. In 2002, the District was nominated to be on the Federal Register as a United States Historic Site.

About Colleen's Art

I create art because it comes naturally to me. Art has always been a big part of my life, even before I based my career on it. When I paint, I am at peace with myself and my surroundings.

The subjects I choose vary. I look for subjects that are pleasing to the eye. I enjoy painting floral arrangements, animals, and contemporary abstract compositions. I feel exploration in this reguard is important for my growth as an artist.

I want viewers to feel good when they look at my artwork. I particularly love to use vibrant colors. I find that highly coloristic works promote a feeling of happiness.Hans the Heron  Colleen Cassidy-Berns
"Hans the Heron" © Colleen Cassidy-Berns

My primary medium is watercolor. I often add pen and ink, collage and acrylic to achieve different affects.

Because I teach watercolor classes, I am always experimenting with new techniques. I strive to develop comprehensive insight into watercolor painting, so that, regardless of my students' specific interests, I can provide instruction which they will find helpful.