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Justice Served for Playwright

Catherine Filloux: Seeking justice, she finds it.

Playwright Catherine Filloux seeks justice in her plays while she deeply explores distress and ugliness in her literary realm of human rights and female genocide. As deeply as she sees and feels those horrors, she saw and felt the beauty of the Hermitage Artist Retreat. While at the Hermitage, it was clear in her eyes, her voice, and her whole expression, that she emotionally absorbs nature’s contrasting serenity and marvel, just as fully as she takes in the cruelty of the lifescapes of Cambodia and Bosnia.

“Justice” is Catherine losing herself in a well-deserved beach run, a luxurious swim, and a breathtaking sunset.

Catherine Filloux at her beach reading
The Sunset after Catherine's beach reading

Photos by Kathye Faries

The Privilege of our Work

We at the Hermitage are blessed to have this work. Not only do we have what may be the best offices in Florida – at least if you’re a beach person, but we get to spend time with the smartest, most talented people on the planet. We get to chat with them about their work, we get to have dinner or go out for a drink with them, and sometimes, like today, we get to see them in rehearsal.

Eve Beglarian in rehearsalWe at the Hermitage are blessed to have this work. Not only do we have what may be the best offices in Florida – at least if you’re a beach person, but we get to spend time with the smartest, most talented people on the planet. We get to chat with them about their work, we get to have dinner or go out for a drink with them, and sometimes, like today, we get to see them in rehearsal.

Composer Eve Beglarian has been with us this past week. Eve won the 2009 Greenfield Prize in Music which resulted in a $30,000 commission for a new work, a Hermitage residency, and a partnership with a regional arts organization to help develop the work. In this case, Eve is working with the Sarasota Orchestra. Today we got to attend some of her rehearsal with her musicians. While at the Hermitage last week, she composed a new piece that she got to try today.

Last year Eve had an adventure. She decided to paddle a red kayak from the headwaters of the Mississippi River, to New Orleans. Occasionally artists have to do these kinds of things – it’s “filling the well.” The New York Times wrote a wonderful story of her trip. And now she’s writing music influenced by music she heard, people she spoke with, and sounds she encountered paddling and camping her way down the river.

Today we got to hear her rehearse some of it, and talk about it. What a treat. And what a treat the Sarasota audience is in for on March 26th when the Sarasota Orchestra premieres the piece, one of two works that will be the result of the Greenfield Prize commission. Then, on March 26th, it will be your privilege to meet Eve, to discover for yourself what an exceptional human being and inspired composer and musician she is. And you will join with us in thanking Bob and Louise Greenfield and the Greenfield Foundation for the gift of the Greenfield Prize which has brought us Eve and which will continue to bring extraordinary people and the work they create to our community.

Sarasota Friends – Have a sailboat?

The Hermitage is looking for a Sarasota-based sailor to offer sailboat rides to artists. From a sunfish to a 64 footer, if you’ve got one, let’s talk. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with a Hermitage Artist.

While artists and writers are in residence at the Hermitage, we want to let them experience all that Florida has to offer. Many times these side trips turn into scenes in a book, or steps in a dance. If you are willing to offer sailboat rides, please let us know. We have several powerboat volunteers, but no sailboats. This week, we have a special request for a sail. If you can help, please call 475-2098 to make the arrangements. If you can’t do it by Sunday, talk to us anyway. This particular artist will return in March, and there may be similar requests by others.

Sanford Biggers’ Billboard

Sanford Biggers, winner of the 2010 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, was commissioned for this billboard currently up on La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles. What do you think?

Sanford Biggers, winner of the 2010 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, was commissioned for this billboard currently up on La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles. What do you think?

Two Great New Board Members

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that Brad Goddard, Vice President, Relationship Manager of PNC Wealth Management and John Cranor, III (pictured left), present Chair of AFC Enterprises, have both joined its Board of Directors for a three-year term effective immediately.

Brad Goddard
Brad Goddard
The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that Brad Goddard, Vice President, Relationship Manager of PNC Wealth Management and John Cranor, III, present Chair of AFC Enterprises, have both joined its Board of Directors for a three-year term effective immediately.

“We welcome Brad and John to our board,” remarked Executive Director Bruce Rodgers. “Their perspective and expertise will be a great addition to our already dynamic group of trustees. I look forward to working with them both as the Hermitage continues to grow and gain recognition locally as well as regionally and nationally.”

Brad Goddard brings over 25 years of experience in corporate banking services, wealth creation and management of privately held businesses and entrepreneurs. He also has a strong background in not-for-profit board participation with organizations that include both human services and the arts.
John Cranor had an impressive career as CEO and President of a variety of businesses, including KFC Worldwide, Wilson Sporting Goods and two divisions of Pepsi Cola. In Sarasota, he was President and CEO of New College Foundation, Inc. for five years. He has also served many not-for-profit boards and community foundations.

“John Cranor and Brad Goddard are tremendous additions to our board,” said Board President Caroline Andrus. “Each brings broad experience, important skills, as well as a shared passion for The Hermitage mission.

It Takes A Village

Most not-for-profits like the Hermitage are supported by heros, both “sung” and “unsung.” Often those of the “unsung” hue are merchants and service providers who give and do not receive enough credit for their gifts. I’m reminded of this as we wrap up the major annual maintenance work and upgrades on our facility. Let us begin with Sarasota County, through the Parks and Recreation Department, who are major unsung heros for underwriting the costs of this work. You see, we had wood rot, dry rot, and wool rot. Such is life under the Florida sun and humidity on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. And the County stepped up and helped us with the costly repair and we are so grateful for their help.

Libby's LogoThese extensive carpentry repairs were done by other unsung heros Pat Ball Construction and their foreman, Hitch Bier. Pat Ball and Hitch went way beyond what the needed to do, contributing approximately $3,000 of additional work beyond the scope of their contract. They did this because they care – they care about our community, they care about the history embedded in these old buildings, and they understand the importance of preserving the history the building represents. The entire Hermitage House was repainted by Coating Solutions, Inc represented by Bud Tippins and his crew. More work done above and beyond the scope. We had a sliding glass door donated by Jon Cole and Tom Dignam donated the labor to install it in the Whitney Garage, transforming that space into a year-round visual art studio with air conditioning and heat.

We have five A/C units on campus. They are maintained by Castle Air. We get a deal from company owner, Blaise Castellano – often free labor and used parts, and a “not-for-profit price” on other HVAC costs. Blinds Blinds is a window covering company who has donated blinds to us, and given us good prices on the rest.

We have also been blessed with generosity from Steve Seidensticker at Libby’s Cafe and Bar, and Ash Shukla and Denise May at Chutney’s, eateries that have fed both artists and VIPs for us.

We wanted you to know some of the people and organizations who, behind the scenes, have been heroic in their generosity. If you see them, please thank them for supporting the Hermitage. Even better, patronize their establishments or use their services. If you see a Sarasota County Commissioner thank them. We all benefit from the good will of all our unsung heroes.

Greenfield Prize Process Begins

Today was an exciting day for the Hermitage. We had the first meeting of the Greenfield Prize jury, the group of national industry (theatre) experts, setting off on a journey to select a playwright to receive the 2011 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat

Greenfield WaveToday was an exciting day for the Hermitage. We had the first meeting of the Greenfield Prize jury, the group of national industry (theatre) experts, setting off on a journey to select a playwright to receive the 2011 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat – a $30,000 commission for a new work to be premiered in 2013, a Hermitage residency, and a partnership with the Asolo Repertory Theatre. While we don’t reveal the names of the jury members until a winner is selected, they are three of the most important and visible names in the American professional theatre.

During this stage of the prize process, we meet by conference call – we are scattered across the country. We will reconvene on the telephone in three weeks when we compile a list of approximately 30 playwrights suggested by the jury. These names will be winnowed down to 3-4 writers who will receive a letter out of the the blue informing them that they are finalists for this prestigious prize. The finalists will be invited to submit a proposal of what they will create if they are selected.

The jury convenes in person at the Hermitage in January to select the winner. (The runners-up are also offered Hermitage residencies.) The prize is formally presented at the Greenfield Prize dinner on March 27, 2011.

We must tell you, this is more fun, and more exciting than you can imagine. Stay tuned, we’ll keep you up to date with the process as it evolves. Want to know more about the Greenfield Prize? www.GreenfieldPrize.org

A Call from our Past

We got a chance to talk to some new friends the other day. First, we received a comment on our Facebook page from Bess Graham-Hodge. Who is Bess? (Hang with me, we’re going to go back in time….) Bess is the great granddaughter of the family that built the Hermitage House. Her father was Pat Graham, the son of Ruth Johanson Graham and Frank Graham.

Ann and Pat Graham
Ann and Pat Graham, 1942
We got a chance to talk to some new friends the other day. First, we received a comment on our Facebook page from Bess Graham-Hodge. Who is Bess? (Hang with me, we’re going to go back in time….) Bess is the great granddaughter of the family that built the Hermitage House. Her father was Pat Graham, the son of Ruth Johanson Graham and Frank Graham. Ruth Johanson Graham was the youngest daughter (of 13 children) of Carl and Anna Johanson. Carl Johanson built what is now the Hermitage House in 1907 and Bess is his great granddaughter. After writing to thank her for contacting us, Bess offered to put us in contact with her 85-year old mother, Ann who was the daughter-in-law. We called Ann, who was delightful. She was so anxious to tell us things about the Hermitage. For example, she told us that in the late 19th Century, Anna Johanson, Carl’s wife, had been a cook for the King of Sweden, and that they needed to have the permission from the King to immigrate to America. A cook for the King of Sweden… AND she had 13 children.

Ann said it was her great granddaughter, Kasee Stratton, PhD candidate, who had revived her interest in the Hermitage. Kassee had asked her about it after hearing stories about the Hermitage, and then went online and discovered our website and some historical pieces written by Diana Harris a writer active with the Lemon Bay Historic Society in Englewood. Kassee and Ann contacted Diana and had two great conversations with her.

Then we received an email from Kassee:

“My great-grandmother and I plan to make a special visit to Florida, as I’m sure she mentioned in her phone conversation with you. I must say Bruce, my great-grandmother has not mentioned leaving her little home until I found out that we could visit the Hermitage. She is beyond excited and such a delightful woman that I would give anything to make this dream a reality.”

So one of the many great perks to this work is that you never know what the day will bring you. On this day it brought us Bess, Ann, and Kasee and a feeling we were reaching back through time to Carl and Anna Johanson. We’re looking forward to our visit in the spring and learning more about our past.

Hermitage Choreographer at Baryshnikov Center

Hermitage choreographer Hilary Easton’s new piece will have its New York premiere at the Baryshnikov Center in October.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
Hermitage choreographer Hilary Easton and her company will perform at the Baryshnikov Center in New York in October according to TalkDanceWorld.com. Easton, who was last in residence in October, 2009 credits her time at the Hermitage as well as The Silo Artist Residency Project for helping her develop the project, titled; Light and Shade Follow the link for the details in the full TalkDanceWorld.com article.