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 https://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.

Meet The Board: Ellen Berman

Hermitage Trustee Ellen Berman began visiting Sarasota in 2007 and instantly became involved in the Sarasota County arts scene. Her introduction came via the 2007 Ringing International Design Summit. As the founding and very recently retired president of the nonprofit Consumer Energy Council of America, Ellen volunteered to bring in the keynote speaker to that conference and served as co-chair of the event. There she met then Jim Ley and his wife Tamara. They in turn invited Ellen to the Hermitage. After a tour of the campus and a “great chat” with Executive Director Bruce Rodgers, she was hooked. “I just loved what they did.” Within a year she was invited to serve on The Board of Trustees.

Hermitage Trustee Ellen Berman began visiting Sarasota in 2007 and instantly became involved in the Sarasota County arts scene. Her introduction came via the 2007 Ringing International Design Summit. As the founding and very recently retired president of the nonprofit Consumer Energy Council of America, Ellen volunteered to bring in the keynote speaker to that conference and served as co-chair of the event. There she met then Jim Ley and his wife Tamara. They in turn invited Ellen to the Hermitage. After a tour of the campus and a “great chat” with Executive Director Bruce Rodgers, she was hooked. “I just loved what they did.” Within a year she was invited to serve on The Board of Trustees.

Meanwhile Ellen decided to split her time between DC and Sarasota and set down roots here. “It is such a community of interested and involved people and cultural institutions with such a beautiful climate,” says Ellen.

Ellen’s interest in the arts goes beyond the Hermitage. She grew up in Danville, VA and graduated from Barnard College with a major in Russian. As soon as she drew a paycheck she began collecting art and even planned to open her own gallery. But after working in an art gallery, and starting her new career in energy policy, Ellen said she realized that she would not have the time to devote to a gallery of her own. Instead she became a consultant to businesses in the market for art for their offices.

For the past 20 years she’s also been very involved in theater. Along with Jeffrey Richards and Richard Gross, she produced the Tony Award-nominated play “Enchanted April,” and “The Compleat Wrks of Wilm Shkspr (Abridged)”. Her latest project “Operation Epsilon,”” marries her love of arts and science. With the help of Michael Donald Edwards, and the cast of 12 Angry Men, she produced a reading of the play at the Historic Asolo Theatre, as well as readings in New York and an award-winning two month run at the Nora Theatre Company in Cambridge, MA. She is now working on casting this “science play” for a production in New York.

Ellen tries not to miss any of the big Hermitage events and was there at the first Greenfield Prize Dinner. “It was the best event in town. People were so excited and everything was perfect. David Lang’s talk was fantastic.” Ellen believes Hermitage programs like the talks by Hermitage Fellows Nico Muhly and Lera Auerbach, provide “A fantastic opportunity to the public to appreciate what the artist has done.””

“The opportunities that the Hermitage creates are really remarkable and worthwhile, to the artists who create their art and to the public to appreciate what the artist has done. In the case of the Greenfield Prize, it gives the artist the chance to create a new work that is produced locally before it goes national.. It’s what’s rewarding to me as a member of the community and of the Board.”

Five Generations of the Dignam Family Legacy at the Hermitage

Over the years Tom Dignam worked with us on the renovation of the Hermitage buildings. He supplied a never-ending stream of free construction material, labor, and furnishings. He came to the rescue when artists locked themselves out, when the electricity went off and when snakes got into studios. I even caught him cleaning the refrigerator and re-arranging furniture. Renowned Playwright Craig Lucas thought Tom was the handyman and was astonished that we named a building after him.

Over the years Tom Dignam worked with us on the renovation of the Hermitage buildings. He supplied a never-ending stream of free construction material, labor, and furnishings. He came to the rescue when artists locked themselves out, when the electricity went off and when snakes got into studios. I even caught him cleaning the refrigerator and re-arranging furniture. Renowned Playwright Craig Lucas thought Tom was the handyman and was astonished that we named a building after him.

When we first started saving the Hermitage buildings as an artist retreat, Tom’s father, George Dignam had just died. He had long been a civic leader in Englewood and we thought it would have been apropos to link the Dignam name with these historic buildings. That finally happened several years later when we named the “Tom Dignam Beach Cottage”.

The Dignams were destined to be connected to the Hermitage. My co-founder, Syd Adler and I asked David Dignam, also a civic leader and a rising star in Englewood to donate time and money to our cause. David said he would give us the best gift we could get: His dad, Tom.

While Tom knew construction, George’s granddaughter Leslie knew fund raising events. She started our highly successful and much loved lobster bake. More than once writers edited a few choice words to downgrade their R-rated scripts to G for George Dignam’s great granddaughter, Taylor who was often the only child at readings. When Brandon Dignam wanted to get married at the Hermitage, how could we say anything but “Yes.”

Annette and Tom attend nearly every beach reading, every volunteer meeting and every fundraiser. Tom became a popular historic home tour docent, spinning tales that became better each time. Annette always showed her appreciation for the art and the artists, especially the writers. She reads their books and loves to talk to the authors. She sits in the first row at every Friends meeting and reading.

That’s why it was easy to surprise her a few weeks ago when we honored Annette with the The Annette Dignam Hermitage/State College of Florida Residency in Literature. At the surprise announcement party Annette, in the front row, didn’t see her whole family gather in the rows behind. Her face glowed with emotion as the residency was announced. Love and appreciation flowed generously as folks from the Hermitage, SCF, and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation let Annette know how much she has meant to them. She served on the SCF Foundation for many years. This endowed residency helps two organizations that Annette has helped nurture.

And in the audience was the 5th generation Dignam, baby Garrett who may someday be mentored in writing by a holder of the Annette Dignam Hermitage/SCF residency in Literature.

Following our Fellows

Congratulations to Hermitage Fellow and recipient of the 2009 Greenfield Prize in music, Eve Beglarian. Earlier this month, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA), a nonprofit arts organization founded by John Cage and Jasper Johns, awarded Eve the third annual Robert Rauschenberg Award, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $35,000. The two previous awardees were choreographer Trisha Brown and the late composer Elodie Lauten. Eve, along with Ruthie Stephens and a creative team from New York, was here this past November working on the new musical piece “Descent,”” presented in workshop at Circus Sarasota. Composer and Hermitage fellow Phil Kline is also part of the “Descent” creative team.

This new feature will share just some of what past and present Hermitage Fellows are sharing with the world.

Congratulations to Hermitage Fellow and recipient of the 2009 Greenfield Prize in music, Eve Beglarian. Earlier this month, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA), a nonprofit arts organization founded by John Cage and Jasper Johns, awarded Eve the third annual Robert Rauschenberg Award, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $35,000. The two previous awardees were choreographer Trisha Brown and the late composer Elodie Lauten. Eve, along with Ruthie Stephens and a creative team from New York, was here this past November working on the new musical piece “Descent,”” presented in workshop at Circus Sarasota. Composer and Hermitage fellow Phil Kline is also part of the “Descent” creative team.

The work of artist Jeffrey Beebe continues on exhibit at the Bravinlee Programs gallery in New York City, until Feb. 21, 2015. Jeffrey Beebe The Battle of The Invoked Impossibility: Further Adventures in Refractoria features maps, diagrams, charts, portraits and drawings.

Hermitage Fellow Mala Iqbal has been busy. She is participating in two group shows, Pallets & Palates: Placing Taste Sound and Sight, at the Asian Arts Intitiative in Philadelphia, through Feb. 20, 2015 and Interventions II at 257 State Street in Hudson, NY through Feb. 1. Mala’s new book of drawings, “Be Home Here, is also available. Check it out here.

Filmmaker and Hermitage Fellow Bill Morrison and composer Michael Gordon, a Miami native, will discuss their long-term collaboration and show excerpts from their films at The Miami Jewish Film Festival on January 27. Bill Morrison’s films were recently showcased at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The Geva Theatre of Rochester, NY will present a reading of Playwright Rich Orloff’s “documentary-style” play “Chatting with the Tea Party” on January 26. Rich’s new play “Jennifer’s Birth” will get readings February 5-7 at WorkShop Theater Company in NYC. To see if Rich’s work is coming near you, check out his website.

Travels with our Friends

I was sorry to miss December at the Hermitage, especially the beach event that had so many people in attendance. Thanks to all of you who helped out in so many ways while I was away.

Marianne Schafer, Coordinator, Friends of the Hermitage

I was sorry to miss December at the Hermitage, especially the beach event that had so many people in attendance. Thanks to all of you who helped out in so many ways while I was away.

Actually, I heard all about it via the Hermitage website all the way on the other side of the world in Indonesia where Mike and I spent the month celebrating the marriage of our eldest son to a lovely young woman we have come to adore.

After the wedding in Jakarta, we spent two weeks travelling with the newlyweds to Yogyakarta and the island of Gili Trawangan off the coast of Bali and Lombok. Yogyakarta is known as the center of classical Javanese fine art and culture. Highlights of our travels were seeing a traditional Javanese ballet, hearing the beautiful strains of a Javanese orchestra, and shopping for batiks, tapestries, and fine silver filagree jewelry where the various processes were demonstrated for us by skilled artisans. We also witnessed a 4 a.m. sunrise over Borabadur, the largest Buddhist archaeological site in the world.

We spent Christmas on Gili Trawangan where I felt like I was living in a National Geographic article. We arrived there by boat, having waded into the Indian Ocean with our luggage to an awaiting water taxi. We spent the last week relaxing in a three-bedroom house a swimming pool with a soothing waterfall that was a welcome relief from the tropical heat. Breakfast was brought to our dining table; and we ate the rest of our meals in restaurants along a narrow, dusty cobblestone road traversed by bicycles, horse-drawn carts and pedestrians—no motor scooters or cars allowed.

All the time I was reminded of the Hermitage and the wonderful artists we have met and enjoyed there. Seeing a culture on the other side of the world made me realize more than ever how alike we all are, no matter where we live on this precious planet. Art is truly the universal language of mankind.

Now I am happy to be back home enjoying the cultural life that is the Hermitage and looking forward to all that the Hermitage has to offer in the New Year. Hopefully, you will continue to make the Hermitage a part of your life, too and we hope to see you at the February 12 meeting of the Friends of the Hermitage.