Westfield Sarasota Square and Ringling College of Art and Design Partner to Launch the ‘Ringling College SurREEL Cinema Lounge’

Share Article

Groundbreaking collaboration of art and commerce showcases award-winning animation from Ringling College and drives retail traffic through offering an entertaining and educational shopping center experience.

Ringling College SurREEL Lounge Logo

I am fortunate to be in this unique position that allows me to help foster awareness and recognition of Sarasota's creative culture while creating an exciting and original experience for the more than 3 million annual visitors to Sarasota Square

Westfield Sarasota Square, a property of the Westfield Group, the world’s largest listed retail property group by equity market capitalization, and Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art and Design, today announced the launch of the Ringling College SurREEL Cinema Lounge at the Westfield Sarasota Square Shopping Center.

The SurREEL Cinema Lounge is a unique collaboration melding art, education, entertainment and commerce. Ringling College is one of the premier art and design colleges in the country, and was recently recognized by Imagine FX magazine as the number two college in the world for its Digital Arts programs. Westfield and Ringling have selected 20 of the very best Ringling senior animation thesis projects from the past four graduating classes - including one Student Academy Award winner – for the debut of the SurREEL Lounge.

Westfield has outfitted the lounge with home theatre technology from Samsung and Sears. The Lounge will be open free-of-charge on a full-time basis for visitors seeking to enhance their retail experience while viewing these Ringling films, which run an average of two minutes in length each. Ringling plans to staff the space on Saturdays and offer art and design programs and lectures starting in late January, 2010.

The College has a lease on the 1650 square foot space, which was transformed from a vacant jewelry store into a colorful contemporary lounge. The SurREEL lounge envelops the audience with midnight blue walls and ceilings, theatrical draperies and an art installation made of paper lanterns complementing the clouds overhead. AdSoft lighting, colorful geometric floor carpets and both traditional and dramatic lounge seating provided by Ringling College, Davis Furniture and Commercial Design Services of Tampa all add to the fun, inviting atmosphere.

“The SurREEL Cinema Lounge at Westfield Sarasota Square offers Ringling College a dynamic forum to showcase the wide variety of skills our students possess - from the interior design of the space, the logo, signage and branding elements, to the ‘reel’ stars of the lounge –the animations themselves,” stated Larry Thompson, President of Ringling College of Art and Design. “We are proud to be partnering with Westfield on such an innovative project. Our computer animation program has long been recognized by the motion picture industry as a top source for experienced animators right out of school, and we are excited for the College and our students to have a full-time venue in which to expose more people to their films.”

Todd Beckwith, Marketing Director for Westfield’s Sarasota locations, originated the lounge idea in his search for ways in which to generate synchronicity between the creative culture of Sarasota and the commercial interests of Westfield’s Sarasota Square retailers. “I am fortunate to be in this unique position that allows me to help foster awareness and recognition of Sarasota’s creative culture while creating an exciting and original experience for the more than 3 million annual visitors to Sarasota Square,” stated Beckwith. “Working with Ringling College of Art and Design was a natural, given their international recognition, the quality of their student work and the public’s love for animation.”

The SurREEL design, brand, graphic identity and interior design was created by a team of two Ringling College students and one alumna. The team included: Interior Design major Nick Hixon ’10, Fine Arts major Therese McPherson ’11, and Graphic alumna Samantha Everhart ’10. Kimberly Doucette, an ’07 Ringling College Interior Design graduate and owner of Environmental Interiors Design Studio, provided design consultation.

Following is the list of the first run animated shorts selected for the Lounge, including the names of the students who created them and their current employers where known:

Class of 2009
1. Anchored: Lindsey Olivares, DreamWorks Animation SKG
2. Cat’s Meow: Jorge Garcia, Rhythm & Hues Studios
3. Oxygen: Christopher Hendryx, Buck
4. Cadillac ’59: Hamilton Lewis, DreamWorks Animation SKG
5. Gretel & Hansel: Gianna Ruggiero
6. Heavenly Appeals: David Lisbe, ReelFX
7. Frank N Brains: Mike Hollander, ReelFX
8. Nuri: Kendra Vander Vliet, DreamWorks Animation SKG
9. Gemini: Mark Yates

Class of 2008
10. Emily in the Clouds: Clayton Mitchell, Sony Pictures Imageworks
11. Fame and Fortune: Nick Pitera, Pixar
12. Gotcha: Kelly Versaggi, Disney Interactive Studios
13. Finders Keepers: Robb Gibbs, Firaxis Games
14. Box Racer: Carolyn Vale, Sony Pictures Imageworks
15. The Clocktower: Cara Antonelli. DreamWorks Animation SKG
16. Out to Play: Jessica Lozano, Telltale Games
17. The Lightkeeper: Alonso Martinez, Pixar

Class of 2007
18. Taken: Tony Cabrera
19. A Leg Up: Bevin Carnes, formerly with Blue Sky Studios and Walt Disney Animation

Class of 2006
20. Aeronaut: Nicholas Lombardo

About Ringling College of Art and Design
Ringling College of Art and Design is a private, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering the Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in 13 disciplines: Advertising Design, Computer Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Fine Arts, Game Art & Design, Graphic & Interactive Communication, Illustration, Interior Design, Motion Design, Painting, Photography & Digital Imaging, Printmaking and Sculpture, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Business of Art & Design. Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the picturesque 47-acre campus now includes more than 100 buildings, and enrolls 1,320 students from 46 states and 46 countries. It is recognized as being among the best and most innovative visual arts colleges in the United States as well as a leader in the use of technology in the arts. http://www.Ringling.edu

About Westfield
Westfield Sarasota Square is owned by the Westfield Group (ASX: WDC), an Australian-based company with interests in 121 shopping centers in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the U.S., the Group has a portfolio of 59 shopping centers that are home to more than 9,000 specialty stores and comprise approximately 65 million square feet of leasable space in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington. Westfield Sarasota Square, formerly Sarasota Square Shopping Center, was acquired by Westfield in 2003. In 2006 it went through a 60 million dollar remodel and is currently home to more than 100 stores anchored by the AMC 12 Theatre, Macy's, Sears and JC Penney. Westfield Sarasota Square is located at 8201 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida, 34238. Westfield

Rich Schineller        

Ringling College:
Christine Meeker Lange

Westfield Sarasota Square
Todd Beckwith


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Rich Schineller

Email >

Christine Meeker Lange