Amazing Women of the Suncoast: Eleanor Merritt Darlington

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SARASOTA - Each Monday we introduce you to an amazing Suncoast woman, someone who has accomplished great things for her community, while overcoming obstacles in her own life. Eleanor Merritt Darlington is a dedicated wife, mother of two daughters, and a grandmother. And she is also a widely acclaimed artist who uses her talent to create beauty, to empower other female artists, and to serve her community.

"Eleanor Merritt Darlington has been with the Ringling Museum as a volunteer for 25 years. She has contributed so much to this organization and to this community... and the arts community here in Sarasota, and shared her passion for the Ringling with our visitors from all over the world. She’s one of only 61 docents that have earned the title of Docent Emeritus," says Scott Gardiner of Ringling Museum.

The native New Yorker and her husband retired to Sarasota in 1982. "And I found the museum, and it was like a jewel for me to find the museum, being an artist and having been an art teacher for 30 years before I came here. And having taught art history, it was incredible to walk in and see the wonderful examples of the collection of John Ringling."

The award-winning painter has exhibited her art extensively. "I'm a two-dimension artist. I’ve always painted in various media; oils, watercolors, and latterly with acrylic. And mixed media, which means putting together combinations of materials."

And she's always fought to further opportunities for women in the arts. The National Women's Caucus presented her with its President’s Award for a program she created which has helped thousands of female artists gain recognition and be able to show their work in museums and galleries.

"One of the projects I worked on for three years was bringing to the forefront the realization of women of color as artists who had also been disenfranchised."

She's now preparing for an upcoming exhibition of her own work. "I have been invited to have a retrospective exhibition in Houston; opens June 8th at the Houston Museum of African American Culture. And I will be on exhibit there with paintings from 1950 to 2012."

And she has another exhibition coming up in San Francisco in November. She is truly an amazing woman -- and she's not done yet.

You may know one of her daughters; she's a doctor in Sarasota. The other daughter is a writer in New York.

Do you know an amazing woman on the Suncoast? Send up your nomination via email at