Historic beachside property tours offered in September

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is offering historic beachside property tours, Friday, September 7, at 10 a.m.; Friday, September 14, at 10 a.m.; and Friday, September 21, at 6 p.m.  These free, one-hour walking tours explore the property’s colorful history and offer up-close views of the 106-year-old main building and four other historic structures that now serve as live-work spaces for visiting artists. Reservations are required and only available through email at reservations@hermitageartistretreat.org.

According to Bruce Rodgers, the Hermitage’s executive director, the Hermitage is a thriving oasis of living history and natural splendor. “Artists from around the world draw inspiration from this special location,” he says. “These unique structures have survived more than 100 years despite Mother Nature’s harshest tests. We’ll share engaging stories of the colorful characters and artists who’ve stayed here.” He adds that the tour begins with a video overview of the retreat.

The Calusa Indians were the original inhabitants of the site; their heritage lives on in the many middens and archeological sites in the area. In 1907, Swedish immigrant Carl Johansen bought a parcel to build a homestead for his family. The Johansens moved out in 1916; their house sat vacant into the 1930s, when it became a nudist resort called The Sea Island Sanctuary. After that, the property exchanged hands several times until, in the early 1990s, writer Ruth Swayze and her daughter, Carroll, an artist, spearheaded a community effort to save the buildings from beach erosion. At the time, Patricia Caswell was the executive director of the Sarasota County Arts Council, the organization that ultimately leased the property from the county in 2000 to turn the buildings into the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Caswell is now the Hermitage’s co-founder and program director. She says that tours of the Hermitage have been popular in the past.  “If these tours sell out, we plan to add more. It’s our delight to share this heritage with as many people as possible.”

Watch Your Mailbox: The Greenfield Prize Dinner is Almost Here

Invitations will be in the mail soon for this year’s Greenfield Prize Dinner, planned for Saturday, April 2 at Michael’s On East! Join us as we celebrate the Greenfield Prize mission “to
bring into the world works of art that will have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic culture of our society” with the presentation of the 2016 Prize in Visual Art to Coco Fusco, presently the Andrew Banks Endowed Professor of Art at the University of Florida.

Invitations will be in the mail soon for this year’s Greenfield Prize Dinner, planned for Saturday, April 2 at Michael’s On East! Join us as we celebrate the Greenfield Prize mission “to
bring into the world works of art that will have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic culture of our society” with the presentation of the 2016 Prize in Visual Art to Coco Fusco, presently the Andrew Banks Endowed Professor of Art at the University of Florida. As Debbi Benedict mentioned, Hank Willis Thomaswill be the keynote speaker.

Co-chairs Beverly Bartner and Renee Hamad are planning a beautiful setting and a delicious dinner with choices of roasted Chateau of Beef over Truffle Scalloped Potatoes or Pan Seared Shrimp with Capers, Mushrooms & Sun-dried Tomatoes. Yum! This promises to be an evening you won’t want to miss, so please respond promptly when you receive the invitation or make your reservations now at www.greenfieldprize.org.

We are so pleased to recognize our sponsors as of February 15th: GOLD UNDERWRITERS Beverly and Robert Bartner, Renee Hamad, Hillary Steele. SILVER SPONSORS Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Charlotte and Charles Perret, The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Ina Schnell. BENEFACTORS Deborah and Walton Beacham, Carol White and Larry Bold, B.J. Creighton, Carole Crosby and Larry Wickless, Kay Delaney and Murray Bring, Bobbi and Will Lorry, Nancy Markle, Anna Nekoranec, Carol Phillips, Betty Schoenbaum, Judy Zuckerberg and George Kole, WUSF. EXCLUSIVE MAGAZINE SPONSOR Sarasota Magazine. Thank you!

PADDLE RAISE FOR PLANTS AND LIGHTS!
Work is underway to implement many of the projects funded by our generous supporters at the Paddle Raise at the Artful Lobster last November. The biggest and most needed improvement is the new path lighting along the shell path between the historic campus and the Palm House. Designed with the sea turtles in mind, low-voltage LED lights now make it a much safer and more enjoyable stroll. Come check it out at one of our evening programs.

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.

STARs Just Want to Have Fun

Five teachers walked into a bar… Actually these five teachers, the current crop of Hermitage/Florida Alliance for Arts Education STARs, have walked into a bar, a bowling alley, a pizza place, another bar and a spin class.

Left to Right 2013 winners of the State Teacher Artist Residency program; Rocky Bridges, Polk County visual artist, Ramiro Malagon, Broward County composer, Melanie Webb, Duval County writer, Kristen Rodriguez, Broward County writer, and Beverly Williams, Polk County visual artist.

Five teachers walked into a bar… Actually these five teachers, the current crop of Hermitage/Florida Alliance for Arts Education STARs, have walked into a bar, a bowling alley, a pizza place, another bar and a spin class.

Teachers, you see, tend to get up early (out of habit) and work during the day (also out of habit). With their nights freed from grading papers, planning lessons and data entry, and with no family obligations, the STARs are finding themselves in a very unusual situation. They have time on their hands.

It doesn’t hurt that Beverly, Kristen, Melanie, Rocky and Ramiro instantly bonded at their welcome dinner and have eaten together as a group almost every evening and hung out at the Hermitage or elsewhere around town, after that. They’ve brought folding tables to the Gulf to enjoy the dinners they’ve been preparing for each other, converting their “personal” food shelves into one big communal fridge. They’ve salsa danced on the porch, sung karaoke in the Pump House (sorry no video of either) and even bought an outdoor game set complete with a volleyball net and Smashminton. And apparently their students aren’t the only ones who enjoy temporary tattoos, squirt guns and colored chalk from the Dollar Store. “Teachers are fun-loving people,” said Beverly, in that understated teacher’s way.

I got the chance to hang with the STARs at a weekly trivia game, because why stay in on a Monday night when you can go out and play right? When it came to choosing a team name, there was no hesitation because apparently, these STARs have a group “word” and thus we were the STAR Secretions (don’t ask, I didn’t).

I did however ask why four out of five of these teachers came to trivia night with no pen. That was the first question at trivia night they couldn’t answer.

It became apparent early that the STAR of this team was Kristen, when she snatched the game sheet to scribble the answer to an early question. I should say that Kristen is the youngest STAR and her correct answer was The Andrews Sisters.

She also got the name of a character from West Side Story, a Charles Dickens novel and just about every wacky answer in a puzzle of mixed up TV show titles. Kristen is very “enthusiastic” said Melanie, who added that the dance she did after every strike she got on bowling night was “the cutest thing ever.” Oh did I mention that when they went bowling, and that they all chose fake names for the score sheet.

Alas, even after successfully naming all five children on the Cosby Show (way to go Beverly) for the 20-point bonus question, our team came in third and out of the money by just two points. (If we had a history teacher we’d have been home free).

But winning wasn’t the goal of the game. It was obvious the STARs were just looking for one more way to hang out together and have a good time. Teachers, more than anyone, except maybe their students, realize that before you know it summer will be over. When it’s a summer this special, you’ve got to get the most out of every minute, whether it’s writing, creating sculptures or grilling kabobs and dancing on the porch while you watch the sun set.

Sharyn Lonsdale

You can meet our STARS at 6 p.m. Friday, August 9 when they open their studios, read from their work and play their music on the Hermitage beach. Open Studios and tours of the campus begin at 6 p.m. and the beach program at 7 p.m. Bring your own chairs and refreshments. The program is free and open to all but it is weather permitting so if the weather looks questionable or threatening, call our office at 941-475-2098 or visit our Facebook page. Hope to see you there.

The Hermitage Goes To New York

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is organizing a special trip to New York City, November 6-10 to experience the extraordinary work of our fellows.

November Trip Promises Special Experiences

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is organizing a special trip to New York City, November 6-10 to experience the extraordinary work of our fellows.

Trip Highlights Include:

  • Metropolitan Opera: Center section orchestra seats for Two Boys an opera written at the Hermitage by Nico Muhly and Craig Lucas.
  • Private reception with Nico Muhly and Craig Lucas following the performance.
  • The Day Before: November 21, 1963, a special evening of short works presented by Symphony Space, written by over 60 Hermitage fellows specifically for this event. What was our world like before everything changed on November 22, 1963?
  • Reception with participating Hermitage artists following the Symphony Space performance.
  • Opening Night at BAM (Yes, we’re invited to the opening night party!). The famous Brooklyn Academy of Music presents Ballet Preljocaj – France’s premiere contemporary dance company.
  • Sanford Biggers – a studio visit. One of America’s hottest visual artists, Hermitage fellow, and Greenfield Prize winner will host our group in his studio
  • Hermitage fellow Michael Eade – a studio visit with this master painter at the famous Elizabeth Foundation. Visit other artist studios and the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.
  • And more… (Yes, MORE!)
  • Hotel accommodations at the Empire Hotel at Lincoln Center.
  • Option without hotel available, too.

Take this trip for an experience of your lifetime. You will be seeing and doing things only the Hermitage can provide. It will be very special. Don’t miss it.

For detailed itinerary, click HERE.

For pricing, click HERE.

Metropolitan Opera
Symphony Space
Craig Lucas
Nico Muhly
Sanford Biggers
Michael Eade

Conversations With Arthur Kopit

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art are pleased to announce that two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and three-time Tony Award nominee Arthur Kopit will share stories about his life in the theater, read from his work and speak about new projects during “Conversations with Arthur Kopit” on Thursday, February 2 at 7:30 pm in the Historic Asolo Theater.

Arthur Kopit

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art are pleased to announce that two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and three-time Tony Award nominee Arthur Kopit will share stories about his life in the theater, read from his work and speak about new projects during “Conversations with Arthur Kopit” on Thursday, February 2 at 7:30 pm in the Historic Asolo Theater. The program is part of the Hermitage Series at the Historic Asolo. Cost is $5.00; students with ID are free. Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling the Historic Asolo box office at 941-360-7399. The theater is located in the museum’s welcome center at 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota.

This will be an opportunity to meet one of our country’s greatest living playwrights and hear him speak about his career and what’s coming up as he explores new work. The Hermitage is very proud to count Arthur Kopit amongst its list of esteemed fellows. We are equally pleased to be able to share him with our community.

Arthur Kopit’s life in the theater has had many successes. He was a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his plays Indians and Wings. Kopit was nominated three times for a Tony Award. In 1970, Indians was nominated for Best Play, as was Wings in1979. In 1982, Nine was nominated for Best Book of a Musical. He won the Vernon Rice Award (now known as the Drama Desk Award) in 1962 for his play Oh Dad, Poor Dad,Mama’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad. In 1979, Kopit was nominated for another Drama Desk Award for his play Wings. Nine returned to Broadway in 2003 and won two Tony Awards, including Best Revival. In 2009 Rob Marshall directed the film based on Kopit’s script.

This will be the second time that Arthur Kopit has come to the Hermitage Artist Retreat to work. Our community give-back program was created to share our artists and their outstanding work with our communities at little or no cost to the audience. This evening exemplifies how special these opportunities can be. Anyone who enjoys a night in the theater will want to attend. And bring your questions. This is your opportunity to join in the conversation.

The Greenfield Prize Jury Comes to the Hermitage

This is an exciting weekend at the Hermitage. The Greenfield prize jury comes into town and meets tomorrow morning (January 15th) at the Hermitage to determine the winner of the 2012 Greenfield Prize in Music. This prize includes a $30,000 commission; a residency at the Hermitage; partnership with a professional musical organization to help develop the commission and to give it its first public exposure; and support for other performances nationally to have the work heard by many other audiences.

The Greenfield Prize

This is an exciting weekend at the Hermitage. The Greenfield prize jury comes into town and meets tomorrow morning (January 15th) at the Hermitage to determine the winner of the 2012 Greenfield Prize in Music. This prize includes a $30,000 commission; a residency at the Hermitage; partnership with a professional musical organization to help develop the commission and to give it its first public exposure; and support for other performances nationally to have the work heard by many other audiences.

The prize will be formally awarded at a dinner at Michael’s On East on Sunday, April 1st where the special guest speaker, besides the winner, will be the celebrated American conductor Robert Spano, Music Director or the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival.

Stay tuned for announcements in local and national press about the winner, the prestigious jury who makes the selection, and our producing partner who will work with the winner.

The prize has its own website at www.GreenfieldPrize.org.