“The Calling” by Lisa Diane Wedgeworth

The Calling, new video work produced at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, August 6-19, 2018

~ Guest post and photo by Lisa Diane Wedgeworth

I have been reflecting on home, the land of my family. A calling, a tugging at my spirit to return there, if even for a brief visit to set foot upon the land my  ancestors toiled, built, walked and raised families upon.

Traveling through Alabama with my mother, visiting civil rights monuments and memorials, a deep kinship with those who endured and survived the Domestic Slave Trade stirred within me and the American South felt as much as my home as any of the places my immediate family and ancestors were called to put down their roots (Los Angeles, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, England and Jamaica).

While at the Hermitage, the water of the Gulf of Mexico  – although stained with the stench and destruction of the Red Tide – conjured images within my mind’s eye and whispered new work, The Calling, in my ear.

 

Ellen Dore Watson on “The Hermitage Gift”

We provide a special place where

artists can strive for success, and through their successes, our lives can also be

transformed. The Hermitage Gift for artists like poet Ellen Dore Watson – more than 80 last year alone – is only possible

because friends like you make it possible!

Artists of all disciplines are invited to come to the Hermitage to stay and work at our historic campus nestled among the sea grapes and mangroves of Manasota Key.
Writers, composers, and painters connect with artistic passions within while strolling along our shoreline, transforming the time away from normal routines into what most
claim to be their best productive time for creating.


“My Story” by Ellen Dore Watson,

Once darkness fell, I walked out onto the beach as if by gravitational pull. No moon. No

people. Pound and glow of surf. Slightly scary, but energizing. I felt myself opening up, anticipatory.

I don’t think I ever before felt so primed. Back at the house, a new poem

poured out, mysterious and different—a piece I hadn’t realized the manuscript needed.

The first evening of my first stay at the Hermitage. What was it about this place?

The Hermitage is a magic kingdom. The dolphins, mangroves, iguanas, egrets, sharks’

teeth found their way into my work and my psyche. In two weeks, I had intense and

inspiring conversations with four playwrights, a choreographer, a novelist, and a

composer, whose work I will follow and with whom I remain in contact. This amazing

cross-fertilization, and everyone’s single-mindedness about pressing forward, reaching

to new places in their work, was electrifying.

And then there’s the sense of time outside time: permission to read, think, walk,

uninterrupted. I’d been feeling empty, uneasy, stressed about what direction to go with

new pieces and how to re-enter earlier problematic ones. But the perfect balance of

solitariness and fellowship, external and internal immersion, and the fact of having

been invited here—invited!—conspired to produce ease, courage, even joy. When I hit

a snag in a poem, I went kayaking, let my brain stew while I glided, wondering how

those mullets can hurl themselves skyward, and why. But then I thought—that’s what

artists do: thrust themselves out of the familiar, then plop back in to see it anew. We do

what we do because we are who we are, and we are most ourselves when doing it.

I wrote eleven new pieces and re-imagined half a dozen thorny others.

It’s amazing every time. It’s not just driving blind, but finding I’ve taken my hands off

the wheel. Let something seep up from deep underneath—or maybe it’s drizzling down

from somewhere. From outside, from inside. Or just something coming. Forming.

Something we enter, or that enters us. It’s thrilling! Hours fly by, and then here is this

new thing that didn’t exist before, and now I get to play with it—add intention,

discipline, attitude, form—nudge it toward the best it can be. Which is what the

Hermitage does for the artists they gather there: that great a gift.


This is just one story of how a stay at the Hermitage made a difference in the

creative life of an artist, but it is why we are here.  We provide a special place where

artists can strive for success, and through their successes, our lives can also be

transformed. The Hermitage Gift for artists – more than 80 last year alone – is only possible

because friends like you make it possible!

Please visit www.hermitageartistretreat.org and click on the Donate Now Button. Or mark your calendar

for the 24-hour Giving Challenge beginning at 12 noon on Tuesday September 20.

The Patterson Foundation will provide a 2:1 match of donations up to $100 from

new donors (those who did not contribute to the Hermitage during last year’s Giving

Challenge), and will provide a 1:1 match of donations up to $100 from returning

donors! Be the one and make the Hermitage Gift available to future Hermitage.

artists.


The 2016 Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with

giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation, as well as support from Manatee Community

Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, and the

Herald-Tribune Media Group.

Thoughts from our Guest Blogger: Nerissa Street

We’re turning our blog over to Nerissa Street, a teacher, writer, speaker, and all-around amazingly creative person who will be reading and leading on our beach on Friday, Aug. 7. Nerissa is definitely a STAR at the Hermitage and back at home in Fort Lauderdale. But even though she lives in Florida, she’s never seen sharks’ teeth like we have on Manasota Key. Read all about it here and come meet her Friday.

Ah-Ha Insights and Stories Told Lovingly

Kukuki Velarde created a delicate whimsical, ode to her little girl Vida. Line drawings on paper, cut out and layered in three dimensions told the beautifully crafted, artfully re‐imagined story of how her little daughter came to be. A fairy baring an egg metaphorically gave a gift to Kukuli that started Vida’s life.

Kukuki Velarde created a delicate whimsical, ode to her little girl Vida. Line drawings on paper, cut out and layered in three dimensions told the beautifully crafted, artfully re‐imagined story of how her little daughter came to be. A fairy baring an egg metaphorically gave a gift to Kukuli that started Vida’s life.

This work intended for a children’s book was a departure from her critically acclaimed ceramic work expressing the struggles of the indigenous people of Peru.

June is family residency month. Hermitage babysitters allow artist‐parents the freedom to create at an intense pace between tranquil family playtimes on the beach.

Oscar Bettison, here with his sweet baby daughter Paloma, came to write a commission for an Amsterdam ensemble.


His warm comfortable British accent seemed at home in the Hermitage living room when we gathered in the house to chat after his composer‐talk was rained out on the beach. A conversation evolved about his way of composing music.

He told us he liked to be challenged, like when a pianist/percussionist asked him to write a solo piece. Together they had to invent ways the pianist could play percussion with his feet while still manning the keyboard.

He wrote a piece with the violin strings all tuned to D (when usually the four strings are tuned to GDAE). We watched a young virtuoso play the piece on youtube. If many of us had heard this piece on a car radio, we might have changed the channel, but after learning its origin, appreciating the difficulty and understanding the pattern, listeners were fascinated.

Oscar doesn’t go with the first idea he has for a piece. He gets more ideas, then, if the first one is still exciting, he goes with it. A writer agreed she works the same way. An artist later chimed in that Oscar’s work is like the collage she makes. Everyone heard something in his music to relate and memorable ah‐ha discourse.

Baby Paloma’s father had sat on the old wooden Hermitage floor helping her learn her first words in the morning. That evening in the same spot Englewood’s literati (decades older than Paloma) still with curious, open minds, learned a new language too, the language of 21st century musical composition.

Music at Sunset with ETHEL

Magic happens when we combine the world’s best artists with our beautiful seaside landscape. More than 400 people showed up with picnics and beach chairs for the most popular “Artists on the Beach” event the Hermitage has ever produced. They came to hear contemporary classical string quartet ETHEL.

Music at Sunset with ETHEL
May 23 on the New College Waterfront
By Patricia Caswell, Co-Founder and Program Director

Magic happens when we combine the world’s best artists with our beautiful seaside landscape. More than 400 people showed up with picnics and beach chairs for the most popular “Artists on the Beach” event the Hermitage has ever produced. They came to hear contemporary classical string quartet ETHEL.

Called by the New Yorker “the virtuosic alternative string quartet…vital and brilliant.” And by the New York Times: “Extraordinarily skilled, passionate musicians.” *ETHEL will perform greatest hits from the ETHEL Songbook, to include music by some of the six Hermitage composers who have written for the quartet and the members of ETHEL. Featuring a special ETHEL meditation on the setting sun.

I have long wanted to bring one of our beach artist events to North Sarasota County for people who think the drive to the Hermitage is too far. Now it will happen, thanks to our friends at New Music, New College along with ETHEL residency sponsor Ina Schnell, and Gerri Aaron who helps us produce all of our artistic programs.

Do not forget to bring your own beach chairs or blankets (there is no seating available at this setting) and refreshments at 7:30pm on Saturday, May 23 to College Hall on the New College Campus. We will remake the Hermitage beach concert experience to give you a hint of what you are missing if you haven’t been to one.

ETHEL on the stage is one thing to experience, but we got to experience the heart of ETHEL while they were in residence. On stage they are lauded for their broad range, fearlessness, musical boundary crossing, and technical mastery. They happen to be four of the most sensitive, kind, inclusive, warm, generous and energetic individuals we have had at the Hermitage. Beneath the music is their spirit. The place just feels good in their presence. It feels optimistic, contagiously experimental and fun. To be in the midst of their creating music is a memory-etching experience. As sponsors, Ina and Gerri will get to spend time among them – a rare treat. They will hear the walls of this 108 year-old house reverberate like the interior of a violin. The old wood floors will vibrate with the musicians’ tapping feet crescendoing to a window rattling stomp.

We will all get to see and hear the results on the bay at New College. See you there!

* As a footnote, Hermitage composers who have written for ETHEL include Anna Clyne, Evan Ziporyn, Doug Cuomo, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Robert Mirabal and Phil Kline, plus the members of ETHEL who are composers.

March Development News

The Board of Trustees would like to thank and recognize Ina Schnell for sponsoring the Hermitage residency of the contemporary string quartet ETHEL! Acclaimed as “unfailingly vital” (The New York Times), “brilliant,”(The New Yorker), and “one of the most exciting quartets around” (Strad Magazine), ETHEL performs adventurous music by celebrated contemporary composers and its 2014-15 season celebrates the diversity of regional American music. Founded in 1998 and based in New York City, ETHEL is comprised of Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Corin Lee (violin), and Dorothy Lawson (cello). Their website is www.ethelcentral.org. – check it out!

The Board of Trustees would like to thank and recognize Ina Schnell for sponsoring the Hermitage residency of the contemporary string quartet ETHEL! Acclaimed as “unfailingly vital” (The New York Times), “brilliant,”(The New Yorker), and “one of the most exciting quartets around” (Strad Magazine), ETHEL performs adventurous music by celebrated contemporary composers and its 2014-15 season celebrates the diversity of regional American music. Founded in 1998 and based in New York City, ETHEL is comprised of Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Corin Lee (violin), and Dorothy Lawson (cello). Their website is www.ethelcentral.org. – check it out!

The Greenfield Prize Dinner will be on April 18 at Michael’s on East. Serving on the event committee are Kelley Lavin, chair, Gerri Aaron, Caroline Andrus, Beverly Bartner, Ellen Berman, Susan Brainerd, Patricia Caswell, Nita Edmundson Cole, Ilene Denton, Rebecca Donelson, Joan Golub, Alexandra Jupin, Diana Lager, Tina Taylor Little, Sharyn Lonsdale, Bobbi Lorry, Flora Major, Linda Mansperger, Sharon Prizant, Michele Redwine, Julie Riddell, Flori Roberts, Bruce Rodgers, Lisa Rubinstein, Ina Schnell, and Karen Solem. To purchase your ticket, go to www.greenfieldprize.org and click on Greenfield Prize Weekend – Reserve your space soon.

We recognize and thank those who have come on board as sponsors of the Greenfield Dinner as of March 18: Premier Community Sponsor: President’s Fund at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County; Table Sponsors: Gerri Aaron, Beverly and Bob Bartner, Ellen Berman, Flora Major and Flori Roberts, Rebecca Donelson and Robert Blattberg and Karen Solem and Charles Forman, Renee Hamad and Joy and Jim Rogers, and Ina Schnell; Benefactors: Caroline and Dyck Andrus, Carol White Bold and Larry Bold, Kay Delaney and Murray Bring, Bobbi and Will Lorry, Ruth and Andy Maass, Sarah and George Pappas, Lois Stulberg; and Patrons: Debbi Benedict, Susan Brainerd and Alan Quinby, Ilene and David Denton, Kelley and Jerry Lavin, Robin Radin, Susie Samp, and WUSF. Our exclusive magazine sponsor is Sarasota Magazine.

We want to thank our amazing donors who support the Hermitage! Welcome Vicki Weil, who recently joined the Palm Circle and thank you to Dr. and Mrs. John Ruthman for their Annual Fund contribution. Every gift supports our mission to nurture creativity, preserve Florida history, protect native ecology, and serve our Gulf coast community.

The Hermitage is proud to announce that it has received a grant of $7,500 to support our summer STAR (State Teachers Artist Residencies) program. The foundation requests that we do not list its name in our newsletter. Five teachers will be at the Hermitage in July and August. The deadline to apply is April 25, 2015. To find out more visit the Florida Alliance of Artist Communities.

Who’s Been in Residence?

Who would have guessed that February and March would be such popular months to visit the Hermitage? Composer Kamala Sankaram, holder of a Chari Isaacs Residency, returned and with the slightest prompting, sung an aria after dinner at the Hermitage, for her residency sponsor. Composer Anna Clyne returned. Not only is she the Chicago Symphony resident composer, but she holds the Charles and Charlotte Perret Residency. She got to know the Perrets over dinner at the Hermitage and showed them “The Violin,” a piece she wrote and turned into a video.

By Patricia Caswell, Co-Founder and Program Director

Who would have guessed that February and March would be such popular months to visit the Hermitage? Composer Kamala Sankaram, holder of a Chari Isaacs Residency, returned and with the slightest prompting, sung an aria after dinner at the Hermitage, for her residency sponsor. Composer Anna Clyne returned. Not only is she the Chicago Symphony resident composer, but she holds the Charles and Charlotte Perret Residency. She got to know the Perrets over dinner at the Hermitage and showed them “The Violin,” a piece she wrote and turned into a video.

Florida Studio Theatre Founder Jon Spelman told stories on the FST stage while Painter Felix de la Concha painted his portrait in front of a full house. The painting is at the “Hermitage Intrigue” show at Alfstad& Contemporary in Sarasota, along with the 17 paintings he completed during his residency, until March 27. Don’t miss it. Playwright Arthur Kopit’s Road to Nirvana played at Venice Theatre with the author addressing the audience afterward for four performances. Arthur also holds a Chari Isaacs Residency. Choreographer Dusan Tynek came for a week following his company’s performance at the Historic Asolo Theatre. Composer/Conductor Jim Stephenson arrived just after conducting the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. Composer Douglas Cuomo, known for writing the popular theme song for the “Sex in the City” TV series, is in residence.

Are you wondering how you can have an aria sung to you over dinner? Sponsor an artist residency. Artists often return three times in two years, enough time to forge a great relationship. Some of our sponsors have traveled to meet their artists and see shows in New York and Europe. I love being a residency matchmaker. So far, no marriages though. Contact me at the Hermitage and let me make a match for you.

No Proscenium: An “Artist on the Beach” Event

In theaters a proscenium separates audience from performer. In galleries artists are absent. The ticket price economic divide can be a cruel barrier. At Hermitage beach events there is no proscenium, no ticket and no barrier. The artists openly engage you straight on.

By Patricia Caswell, Co-Founder and Program Director

No Proscenium: An “Artist on the Beach” Event
Friday, April 10 at 6:00 PM

In theaters a proscenium separates audience from performer. In galleries artists are absent. The ticket price economic divide can be a cruel barrier. At Hermitage beach events there is no proscenium, no ticket and no barrier. The artists openly engage you straight on.

Artists on the Beach on April 10 features two New York City artists in open studios; a world-renowned composer and author reading from her latest book; a documentary art film; a playwright; and a singer/songwriter sure to charm as he serenades the sunset. Be prepared to be engaged, because on our beach there is no proscenium between you and the artist.

So what will you see here at the Hermitage that day?
In our studios, Artist/Musician Ted Riederer will screen his award winning film, “YOU ARE NOT LISTENING,” about his Never Record community art installation. He set up free record stores (pop up shops) inviting musicians to record albums for free. Check out the trailer at https://vimeo.com/46362406

Visual artist Jane Fine will open her studio with works in progress. Visit her website http://janefine.net/ to see her delicate, intricate and colorful work.

At 7 p.m. we’re off to the beach for a program like none we’ve had before.

In the last few years Lera Auerbach has written music for opera, ballet, and orchestras literally all over the world. But what does this Hermitage Fellow do in her spare time? She will read from her new book, The Excess of Being, which she wrote and illustrated and you the audience will play an active role in her reading. She will be signing her books, so you can take a bit of the evening home with you.

What could be more uplifting than a sunset serenade on the beach by Musician Michael Mendez, a member of Sarasota’s own Westcoast Black Theater Troupe?

Bring your own beach chairs (preferably the low ones) and snacks. Sit as close as you want because there is no “fourth wall” in Mother Nature’s theater.

A world of thanks to the Englewood Art Center (a Division or Ringling College of Art & Design). Weather forced us to move the program to their building at 350 South McCall Road and they could not have been better hosts. If Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate this time, we’ll be on the move again. Check the Hermitage Facebook page or call us after 3 p.m. that day if the weather is in doubt. And of course, the program is free.

Mark Your Calendar or You May Miss our Events
To avoid flooding your inbox with emails, we include upcoming artist programs in this monthly newsletter. This means if you don’t read it, you might miss something! There might not be another notice. This scares me because even my own mother hasn’t read my column at times. So get the artist scoop right here. Email me at Programs@HermitageArtistRetreat.org and let me know you got this and it’s working. Speaking of the calendar. I’ve always dreamed of bringing our “Artist on the Beach” events north to Sarasota. It will happen on Saturday, May 23 with the popular string quartet ETHEL. You’ll read it here first in next month’s newsletter.

February Friends Meeting

The February meeting of the Friends of the Hermitage was well attended, informative and fun. Thanks to those of you who brought food to be shared before Sharyn Lonsdale welcomed us. It was good to have our friends Eleanor Hodges and Florine Broden back with us again.

By Marianne Schafer, Coordinator of the Friends of the Hermitage

The February meeting of the Friends of the Hermitage was well attended, informative and fun. Thanks to those of you who brought food to be shared before Sharyn Lonsdale welcomed us. It was good to have our friends Eleanor Hodges and Florine Broden back with us again.

Patricia Caswell gave us a head’s up on what’s happening in the next month. Then we went on a “field trip” to the banyan tree in the side lawn where visual artist Felix de la Concha was painting a study of sunlight on palm trees with the Whitney and the cisterns in the background. We also visited the studio where several of his paintings weredisplayed.

Friends were thanked for their volunteerism: Gladys Varga for adding new books to the compilation for the Fellows Library, Mike Schafer and Don Morrison, for assembling a new bookshelf for that expanding library, and Jacobina Trump for tending to it. Mike Schafer also helped out at a surprise event for Annette Dignam in honor of an endowment named for her.

Special thanks were given to the following Friends who staffed the beach events in January: Linda Schilke, Audrey Snyder, Peggy Parker, Velvet Wildermuth, Bob Kinsey, Sarita Kruysman, Kay Rihn, Dale Mancini, Robert Jackson, Rosalie Conlon, Mike Schafer, Tom and Annette Dignam.

Kay Rihn presented a Certificate of Recognition to Mike Schafer “for services above and beyond” when he took on a job cleaning her community’s traffic cones to be used at the Artful Lobster. (They really were a mess)

A watercolor by Jackie Parsons was displayed and an invitation was extended for Friends to show and share their art at future meetings.

The meeting ended with visual artist James Esber discussing and answering questions about his work entitled “PPS—Painting Perpetually Shown”.

Being a part of the Friends of the Hermitage and attending meetings has some wonderful perks. One of the best is spending individual or small-group time with our artists while they are in residence. The February meeting provided those of us present with that kind of quality time that is so enriching.

It’s great when Friends like Mary Clement, Richard Mueller and Linda Schilke remember the Hermitage Wish List. Richard donated a bookshelf that will house the overflow from the Reading for Pleasure Library, and Mary donated a cooler and small fridge. Linda is a frequent donor of household items she finds in yard sales. When organizing or cleaning your home, please keep the Hermitage in mind for those new or seldom-used articles you don’t want any more. They may be exactly what the Hermitage needs to make our artists’ visits more comfortable.

There’s lots for you to do at the Hermitage in the coming weeks including a session of jewelry making for beginners on up at noon on Feb. 25, community programs (the next one is Feb. 27) and the next Friends Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 11th at 10:30 a.m.. So watch the website for updates and more information.

Generous Gifts Start the New Year Right

We want to welcome Charles and Charlotte Perret to our growing group of Artist Sponsors! They will be supporting the residency of Anna Clyne, a Chicago Symphony Orchestra resident composer who was nominated for a Grammy this year for Best Contemporary Classical Composition with her double violin concerto, Prince of Clouds, which was composed during a previous stay in Sarasota. Anna will be back this month and you can meet her at the Beach Reading planned for February 27.

We want to welcome Charles and Charlotte Perret to our growing group of Artist Sponsors! They will be supporting the residency of Anna Clyne, a Chicago Symphony Orchestra resident composer who was nominated for a Grammy this year for Best Contemporary Classical Composition with her double violin concerto, Prince of Clouds, which was composed during a previous stay in Sarasota. Anna will be back this month and you can meet her at the Beach Reading planned for February 27.

We celebrate another residency sponsorship – the new Annette Dignam Hermitage/SCF Residency in Literature. We thank Gulf Coast Community Foundation for its underwriting support for our reception honoring Annette on January 23. Holding this residency is Christopher Merrill.

The Greenfield Prize Dinner will be on April 18 at Michael’s on East. We recognize and thank those who have come on board as sponsors as of February 16: Premier Community Sponsor: President’s Fund at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County; Table Sponsors: Ellen Berman, Flora Major and Flori Roberts, Rebecca Donelson and Robert Blattberg and Karen Solem and Charles Forman and Ina Schnell; Benefactors: Caroline and Dyck Andrus, Carol White Bold and Larry Bold, Kay Delaney and Murray Bring, Bobbi and Will Lorry, and Sarah and George Pappas; and Patrons: Debbi Benedict, Susan Brainerd and Alan Quinby, Ilene and David Denton, Robin Radin, Susie Samp. Our exclusive magazine sponsor is Sarasota Magazine. Invitations will be mailed in early March.

We want to thank our amazing donors who support the Hermitage! Giving to the Annual Fund Campaign between January 20 and February 12 are Robert Chapman, Harriet Hobson, Lynn Jezerinac, Pat and Paul Reynolds, Harvey Small (with a matching gift from AXA Foundation), and Audrey Snyder. We need only $3,000 to reach our campaign goal of $30,000 by June 30th, so please add your name to our list. It’s easy! Go to http://hermitageartistretreat.org/support/contribute/ and click on the bright blue DONATE NOW button at the top right. Thanks!

Since our last newsletter, general contributions were received from Judy and Pat Ball (in memory of my dad, Denzyl Williams, who passed away last month at 95), Rebecca Donelson, and Michele Redwine. In-kind contributions were received from Castle Air and Marianne and Mike Schafer. Every gift supports our mission to nurture creativity, preserve Florida history, protect native ecology, and serve our Gulf coast community.

We also want to recognize our special friends who have made a donation to the Hermitage as part of their commitment to join us in Chicago, May 26 – 29: Georgia Court, Ilene and David Denton, Joan Golub, Margaret Pennington, Charlotte and Charles Perret, Sharon Prizant, Jett and Nelda Thompson, Cynthia Trembley, and Robert Wilk. It’s not too late to join them for this very unique trip. The deadline to register is March 1. Go to our website for details and to sign up.