September is for R&R (Repair and Renovation) or (Rust and Rot)

Maintaining historic structures in southwestern Florida and mere feet from the Gulf of Mexico is a challenge. Mother Nature wants this property back, and she uses all her tools of wind, rain, salt, and sun to deteriorate man-made structures. To top it off, she sends her best, most powerful storms in to complete the job. Since September/October is the most active part of the hurricane season, September seems to be the very best time to schedule maintenance and repair and to keep artists from far-flung destinations away from Manasota Key.

Pump House Music Studio
Pump House Music Studio

Maintaining historic structures in southwestern Florida and mere feet from the Gulf of Mexico is a challenge. Mother Nature wants this property back, and she uses all her tools of wind, rain, salt, and sun to deteriorate man-made structures. To top it off, she sends her best, most powerful storms in to complete the job. Since September/October is the most active part of the hurricane season, September seems to be the very best time to schedule maintenance and repair and to keep artists from far-flung destinations away from Manasota Key.

In addition to maintenance, September is the time when we look at the feedback from our artists (each resident completes an evaluation including suggested facility improvements) and decide what facility-related projects to undertake that would improve the artist experience.

We are guided in this work by our wonderful volunteer facilities committee chaired by architect Doug Driscoll and including architect Jonathan Parks, contractor Pat Ball, builder Hitch Baer, volunteer and donor Tom Dignam, and trustees Larry Bold and Caroline Andrus.

This year we received a generous grant of $60,000 from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation targeted to repairs and renovations. The priorities this year will be to significantly improve the acoustical separation between the two Whitney studios, repair and paint the Whitney House exterior, install a Gulf-side picture window in the composer’s studio (Pump House), and repair windows in the Hermitage. Thanks to the generosity of the patrons of last year’s Artful Lobster, we raised enough money to start making screens (and they have to be made individually) for the Hermitage House. And thanks to the generosity of our supporter, Margaret Pennington, we will be installing a new air conditioning unit in the upstairs suite in the Hermitage House, and a new outdoor shower as well.

All of this work has had to pass through an approval process including the County Historic Preservation Board, and the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Department. Sarasota County has been and continues to be wonderful partners in this incredible venture that we call the Hermitage Artist Retreat, and we are very grateful for all their cooperation.

We will be reserving this time of year, every year, for challenge of keeping ahead of mother nature. As you can imagine, it’s no easy task. After all she has all the time in the world and we only have 4-6 weeks.

Whitney Front Writer's Studio
Whitney Front Writer's Studio

Meet The Hermitage STARs

The Hermitage Artist Retreat will hold open studios on Friday, August 12 to present the work of its first STAR (State Teachers Artist Residency) artists-in-residence. The event takes place from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on the Retreat campus which is located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. The five STARS will participate in open studios, readings and a musical performance. The event is free and open to the public.



The Hermitage Artist Retreat will hold open studios on Friday, August 12 to present the work of its first STAR (State Teachers Artist Residency) artists-in-residence. The event takes place from 6:00 pm to9:00 pm on the Retreat campus which is located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. The five STARS will participate in open studios, readings and a musical performance. The event is free and open to the public.

This open studio event marks the culmination of our first residencies for Florida arts teachers. When we devised this program, we suspected that with all the demands placed on artists who choose a careerin public education, there is hardly time left over for pursuing their own artistry. We are pleased to be able to offer this gift of time and space and we now know that our inclination was correct. These teachers leave us fulfilled, enthused and excited about what has happened here and what’s to come.

The evening’s schedule is as follows:

6:00-7:15 – Open studios of Andrea Huffman, Broward County and Patricia Cummins, Miami-Dade County

7:15-8:00 – Beach readings by Alan Sincic, Osceola County and Melissa Pranke, Orange County. Musical performance by Tim Ostrow and accompanying musician, Charlotte County

8:09 – Sunset

The Artists Speak:

“My fellowship at the Hermitage has been a most generous gift of time to create and rejuvenate in a spectacular environment. I have been inspired to fill stacks of notebooks with words and stories; but tomy surprise, I have realized my greatest gain from this experience has been a rekindling of respect and passion for myself, as an artist and a teacher. The Hermitage, where creativity and compassion are paramount, is a rare gift and should be protected and cherished.”
– Melissa Pranke, writer, Winter Park High School, Orange County

(Read comments from all of the year’s STAR artists by clicking here)

This is the first group of STARs. Open to all Florida arts teachers, the STAR program is a partnership with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE). Each spring, Florida arts teachers can apply forthe residency through FAAE, which also selects the winners. Five are selected: one in music, two in visual arts and two in creative writing.

We look forward to sharing the work of these artists/educators with you. True they won the competition but another win is for the children of Florida who will now benefit by teachers who have been renewed and valued for their artistic talent. We hope this program grows over time to include more opportunities for educators with a passion and talent for the arts.

The Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE) is a statewide service organization that works to ensure that all Florida students have a complete education that includes the arts. For more information on the application process or the organization, contact Susan Burke, at the Florida Alliance for Arts Education by calling 407-488-9951 or online at www.faae.org.

Five Florida Arts Teachers Selected for Special Residency

We are thrilled to be hosting five STARs at the Hermitage Artist Retreat beginning July 11. The Hermitage and the Florida Alliance For Arts Education (FAAE) have teamed-up to create the State Teacher/Artist Residencies for five Florida public school teachers of visual art, creative writing, and music.

We are thrilled to be hosting five STARs at the Hermitage Artist Retreat beginning July 11. The Hermitage and the Florida Alliance For Arts Education (FAAE) have teamed-up to create the State Teacher/Artist Residencies for five Florida public school teachers of visual art, creative writing, and music.

The first recipients of this annual gift of time and space to devote to their personal artistry are musician Tim Ostrow, L.A. Ainger Middle School, Charlotte County; visual artist/writer Melissa Pranke, Winter Park High School, Orange County; visual artists Patricia Cummins, Palmetto Elementary School, Miami-Dade County and Andrea Huffman, McArthur High School, Broward County; and writer Alan Sincic, Osceola County School for the Arts, Osceola County. The residency will take place during their summer break, July 11 through August 14.

The State of Florida is filled with talented, dedicated artists who are also dedicated public school teachers. The STAR Program was designed to honor and nourish the artist in the educator with the hope that this personal time for concentration in a community of other artists will be a rewarding time to create, share and learn from others.

In April, FAAE notified all eligible school districts of the opportunity. Criteria for selection were based on two areas: position as full-time Florida public school teacher and artistic quality of work samples. Priority was given to Arts Achieve! model schools and counties with Network Partner Coalitions for their continued use of arts education as an important component of their curriculums.

According to Susan Burke, executive director of Florida Alliance for Arts Education, “When Bruce came to us with this idea we were thrilled at the opportunity we could offer to our arts teachers. Today’s teachers are burdened with increasing administrative duties in addition to their teaching responsibilities. The STAR program allows these talented teachers to re-engage with their art. We have no doubt that when they return to their schools, they will be excited and energized with a new enthusiasm for teaching the next generation of writers, painters and composers.”

Five STAR residences will be awarded each spring. The breakdown of arts disciplines will always be one in music, two in writing and two in visual arts to conform to the available studios on the Hermitage campus. For more information on the application process, contact Susan Burke, at the Florida Alliance for Arts Education by calling 407-488-9951 or online at www.faae.org.

Hermitage Artists Premiering New Opera at ENO and the Met

One measure of a great artist retreat is the work that gets created there. And having work published, performed, and exhibited around the world certainly represents one of the great joys of working at an artist community.

One measure of a great artist retreat is the work that gets created there. And having work published, performed, and exhibited around the world certainly represents one of the great joys of working at an artist community. The following link connects to an article in Guardian.co.uk about Two Boys, a new opera commissioned by the English National Opera in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The music for Two Boys is composed by Nico Muhly and the libretto is written by Craig Lucas. The talented collaborators were in residence at the Hermitage in the spring of 2010 when they worked on the piece together.

View a 6-minute clip of composer Nico Muhly playing his composition, Skip Town during his interview on the stage of the Historic Asolo Theater in Sarasota, FL.

Missy Mazzoli Making Music

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in partnership with New College of Florida, invite the public to meet one of America’s most talented composers, Missy Mazzoli, on Wednesday, March 16, 2001, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at the Mildred F. Sainer Art & Music Pavilion in Sarasota. There is no charge for this program.

Missy Mazzoli

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in partnership with New College of Florida, invite the public to meet one of America’s most talented composers, Missy Mazzoli, on Wednesday, March 16, 2001, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at the Mildred F. Sainer Art & Music Pavilion in Sarasota. There is no charge for this program.

Mazzoli will perform “Orizzonte,” an original piece for piano and electronics and will play recordings of her orchestra music “Victoire,” and the opera she is working on at the Hermitage, “Song From The Uproar.” The audience will have the opportunity to dialogue with the award-winning composer as she discusses the many different but related musical projects on which she is working.

“Blithly ignoring boundaries of genre and style, Missy Mazzoli composes music that speaks to a wide and discerning audience. Her musical vision is bold, large and inclusive,” states Stephen Miles, Director of New Music at New College and the moderator for the event.

Mazzoli’s music has been heard throughout the world in performances by many of the leading orchestras. She has been a featured composer at several prominent music venues and was commissioned to create new pieces by such organizations as the Whitney Museum and Carnegie Hall. Mazzoli studied music composition at the Yale School of Music, the Royal Conservatory of the Hague and Boston University. She is a recipient of a Fulbright Grant to the Netherlands and has won the 2007 and 2008 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award and a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is currently the Executive Director of the MATA festival of New Music in New York City, which is dedicated to promoting new works by young composers. An active pianist, Mazzoli performs with her quartet that is dedicated exclusively to her own compositions. According to Bruce E. Rodgers, Hermitage’s Executive Director, “Missy is one of America’s newest music superstars. Her talent is extraordinary as her compositions range from complex symphonies to those that were performed at the Bang-On-A-Can New Music Marathon. The Hermitage is pleased to offer this artist-in-residence a quiet place to compose her newest piece – an opera.”

Remembering Romulus

Young artists literally sat at his feet here at the Hermitage.

While at the Hermitage, Romulus wrote about another Hermitage Fellow, writer and scientist, Meg Lowman in his play, The Flower Gatherer.
We shouldn’t have favorites, but here at the Hermitage, we can’t help ourselves. Sadly, one of our favorite artists died yesterday. Romulus Linney, a father of American playwriting, spent a month with us two years ago. Over a hundred people lined the beach, entranced and delighted as Romulus read one of his Appalachian plays. But when the crowd was gone, Romulus was at his best. Young artists, composers and writers literally sat at his feet here at the Hermitage. He shared a lifetime of wisdom filtered through his brilliant mind. How lucky we were to be in his presence.

Romulus Linney – Losing One Of Our Own

Playwright Romulus Linney passed away yesterday. Like Tennessee Williams, he too was a writer’s writer. Romulus wrote every day. And for 42 of those days he wrote at the Hermitage. One of the plays he worked on while with us was Love Drunk, mentioned in today’s New York Times obituary to which we have a link below.

Romulus Linney listens to playwright Dennis Green read from his work in the Hermitage House

When playwright Tennessee Williams died at age 71 in 1983 reporter Mike Wallace delivered a most moving tribute to him in a radio eulogy. In this essay, Wallace described a writer (Williams) whose greatest gifts had long ago been exhausted but in spite of all that had happened to him, in spite of repeated public failure and public rejection, he described a writer who got up every morning, and wrote. Every morning. He was a writer’s writer. Writing wasn’t what Tennessee Williams did, it was who he was.

Playwright Romulus Linney died yesterday. Like Tennessee Williams, he too was a writer’s writer. Romulus wrote every day. And for 42 of those days he wrote at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. One of the plays he worked on while with us was Love Drunk, mentioned in today’s New York Times obituary to which we have a link below.

In the spring of 1990, Romulus Linney gave me one of my seminal theatrical experiences – one of the three or four experiences in the theatre, which I will never forget. It was at the Humana Festival of New Plays, produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, KY. The play was simply named “2.” It was the story of Hermann Goering, Hitler’s number 2 man, and it was set during the Nuremburg Trials. Florida Studio Theater subsequently produced the play in 1997.

My experience seeing “2” was transformational – I had never seen a play affect an audience, and felt a play affect me in quite the same way. At the end of the play, the audience finds itself in a very different place, from the place it expected to be. The play transforms from an artifact of history – the tale of what happened to a certain (monstrous) person at a certain time in history, to a visceral connection between the audience and the monster we have seen on stage. And the connection is made in a stunning, theatrical moment at play’s end. Breathtaking. When I asked him about the play during his Hermitage residency, he gave the credit to his Louisville actor, William Duff-Griffin. He said something like “When you have someone like Bill Griffin in the role, you just get out of the way.”

Generosity of spirit was characteristic of this southern gentleman. He was a committed believer in artist communities, and a former board member of Yaddo, where he often went to write. “Artist communities, writer’s colonies, save lives,” he told more than one Sarasota County audience, “they saved mine.” At a low point in his young career, he went to Yaddo, an artist community in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he found the encouragement of fellow writers restored his confidence and resolve. It fed him what he needed to go on. So he did.

Romulus was an unpretentious man with unlimited intellectual gifts, and down-to-earth tastes. He loved diner food. While at the Hermitage, he was a regular at the Hungry Hound Café, a hole-in-the-wall hidden in a strip mall in Englewood, Fl. As far as I know, once he found it, he took every evening meal there. He took everyone else he could get to go with him, too. When he left the Hermitage for the last time, we gave him a Hungry Hound T-shirt.

The generosity, which defined Romulus at the Hermitage, was most evident with how he interacted with some of the younger artists who shared their time with him. Both composers and painters sat at his feet, anxiously seeking his opinion and advice, which he gave honestly but with care.

When asked about his creative process, we would say with the twinge of a southern lilt, “I tell my subconscious that I plan to be at my desk at 8am, and I invite it to meet me there.”

As his New York Times obituary observes, Romulus never achieved the household recognition of a Neil Simon or a David Mamet. His one Broadway play closed in five days. But he was universally admired by his peers for his craftsmanship, scholarship, and his prodigious ability to mine the deep humanity of his characters. He loved history and used it often to write about his time.

“When this is all over, my writing will add up to the sum total of me,” he said in an interview quoted in the Times. “The choices I make with my writing have a lot to do with myself as an unfolding personality, so that in the end your writing is really your destiny. It’s a question of finding that central thing that’s yours to say and yours alone.”

Like Tennessee Williams, writing wasn’t what he did, it was who he was. He was a talent of our time, and his loss is shared by us all.

The full New York Times obituary can be found at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/arts/16linney.html?ref=arts

Greenfield Prize winner Sanford Biggers from Brazil to Switzerland

If you are in NYC, see Sanford’s art at the Rubin Museum of Art in Grains of Emptiness: Buddhism-Inspired Contemporary Art.

After two months of filming a new project in Salvador da Bahia, Greenfield Prize winner Sanford Biggers went to Lucern, Switzerland to install Creation/Dissipation at the Kunstmuseum Luzern. Soon after, he had the honor of presenting the keynote speech/performance at the 5th Annual Buddhist Film Festival.

Ringling Museum/Hermitage Partnership

The Hermitage is proud of a new partnership with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. This extensive agreement will bring Hermitage artists to the grounds of the Museum as resident artists staying in the newly restored Ringling Cottage new the Ca d’ Zan mansion. The residency will be known as the Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Hermitage Residency at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce a partnership with The John and
Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which will establish a residency for a Hermitage Fellow
on the museum grounds. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Hermitage Residency at
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is named to commemorate the Gulf Coast
Community Foundation’s financial support in the renovation of the Ringling Cottage
wherein the residency will be housed. As with all Hermitage Fellows, the artist or artists
will have up to six weeks time to work in this prestigious location. Also, as with all
Hermitage Fellows, the artist(s) will present two community “give-back” programs.
“When The Ringling Museum contacted us about this possibility, we were very
excited,” remarked Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers. “Our campus on Manasota Key
has five buildings and about the same number of work spaces. This gives us the
opportunity to expand our live/work space without any capital investment. It also allows
us to accommodate another world-class artist who we will be able to share with the
community.”

Unlike the artists invited to the Manasota campus that may or may not be working
on a specific project, it is expected that the Gulf Coast Community
Foundation/Hermitage Residency at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art will
be offered to artists working on projects that can benefit by living and working on the
Museum grounds. Those projects might be directly related to Ringling collections,
exhibitions, and programs, or there may be a tangential connection as to studies in
history, social sciences, architecture, etc. There are many reasons to be inspired by the
setting of The Ringling Museum campus.

“This is a remarkable situation between three organizations that collectively
understand the important contribution that art makes to our lives,” commented Dwight
Currie, Interim Deputy Director of Collections, Exhibitions and Programs for The
Ringling Museum. “While it is our mission to preserve and enhance an appreciation of
art, we are not often actively involved in its creation. The new partnership with the
Hermitage affords us that role. And it goes without saying how much we appreciate the
generous support of our donors and organizations like the Gulf Coast Community
Foundation who make it possible for us to provide our services to the community. The
Museum is proud to join these two outstanding organizations in creating this
opportunity.”

The first Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Hermitage Resident will be the
writer Steve Kuusisto. Kuusisto is a past Hermitage Fellow. He is a writer who writes
about experiencing life as someone with a disability; he has been blind since birth.
During his residency from January 17 to February 27, 2011, he will be adding to his ongoing
research into the relationship between the circus and people with disabilities. As
part of the residency program, the public is invited to attend a presentation to be given by
Kuusisto on Saturday, February 19, 2011 in the Circus Museum.

“The museum and all of its resources are very unique assets which we can now
offer to our renowned group of artists,” Rodgers continued. “Our selection committee has
been charged with submitting names of artists who will benefit from this type of
experience, which will be quite different from being on the Manasota Key campus. We
are very excited to be adding this unique artistic experience to our program.”

Executive Director on RIAF Panel

t was great fun to sit on a panel with four really smart people talking about art and its making. Many common themes criss-crossed among the many different points of view and experiences the panel brought to the program. The discussion took place in the Historic Asolo Theatre on the campus of the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota.

Photo: Jay Handelman
It was great fun to sit on a panel with four really smart people talking about art and its making. Many common themes criss-crossed among the many different points of view and experiences the panel brought to the program. The discussion took place in the Historic Asolo Theatre on the campus of the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota. The museum is in the middle of the Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF) this weekend with over 100 international artists in theater, dance, music as well as performances in strange and wonderful combinations of those disciplines. The Festival is produced in collaboration with the Baryshnikov Center in New York City who curates the programming with the Museum. Congratulations to the Ringling Museum for creating this wonderful festival – yet another reason why Sarasota is such a great place to live, work, and visit.

By the way, in this picture did you notice how everyone is looking one direction and and I’m looking the other? For some reason this is not unusual for me. I can’t explain it. Thanks to Jay Handelman, critic for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, for the picture. I stole if from his blog about the event which can be read at: Handelman Blog