Jay Starker tribute


Jay Starker playing the steel drum at the 1970 Florida Folk Festival (State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory)

Jay B. Starker left this planet on July 26, 2012. His impact is still being felt -- especially here in Sarasota. Starker was a musician, a visual artist and a force of nature. For him, creating in isolation wasn't enough. Starker wanted to be part of a creative tribe. If he couldn't find a tribe he liked, he created one. The Gathering of Exiles was one of these groups: a ragtag assemblage of musicians and dancers that used to meet at Starker's  shop on Main Street and perform international music.

On Dec. 2, the Sarasota arts community will pay tribute to Starker's life and artistic legacy  at the Southgate Community Center. The event is being organized by Starker's cousin, Jessika Arman. "It is mainly the old timers who will remember Jay," she says. "But I'm sure many in the community will want to know about this tribute and would like to attend."

But don't expect a dry memorial. Starker would've wanted a happening -- and that's the plan. The tribute will feature performances from original members of The Gathering of Exiles -- including the dancer, Tajah. There will also be some audience participation -- the wearable kind.

"Please wear something that Jay made for you or might have made," Arman asks. "That could be jewelry, leather sandals or a belt. Anything honest and beautiful that might have come from his hands will be appropriate. I know it would put a smile on his face!"

Jay Starker Tribute, Sunday, December 2, 4-6 p.m., Southgate Community Center, 3145 South Gate Circle, Sarasota.

In the Jay Starker tradition, area performers are welcome to participate -- even those who weren't part of the original Gathering of Exiles. To participate, contact Tahja at Non-performers can contribute by bringing a dish to share (we'll have tables for memorabilia and food). In addition to this ephemeral tribute, Arman will be setting up an arts/music scholarship for needy children in Starker's name as part of his legacy. Those who wish to contribute should contact Arman at

Jay Starker Remembered

PREVIEWJay Starker Tribute, Sunday, Dec. 2, 4-6 p.m., Southgate Community Center, 3145 South Gate Circle, Sarasota.
Last modified: November 23, 2012
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