Biggers’ Greenfield Prize Commission Opens at Ringling Museum

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation are pleased to announce that Sanford Biggers, 2010 Winner of the Greenfield Prize and its first visual art recipient, has installed his commission at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL. The exhibition Codex will be on display until October 14, 2012. The exhibit was inspired by Harriet Tubman and quilts used to signify safe houses along the underground railway. Clouds, stars and constellations are interspersed throughout the work, symbolic of those used by slaves as they found their way to freedom.

Sanford Biggers Codex Installation
Codex (installation, detail)
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Photography by Giovanni Lunardi
All work copyright Sanford Biggers, 2012

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation are pleased to announce that Sanford Biggers, 2010 Winner of the Greenfield Prize and its first visual art recipient, has installed his commission at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL. The exhibition Codex will be on display until October 14, 2012. The exhibit was inspired by Harriet Tubman and quilts used to signify safe houses along the underground railway. Clouds, stars and constellations are interspersed throughout the work, symbolic of those used by slaves as they found their way to freedom.

“I’ve not exhibited paintings or drawings for 15 years,” shared Biggers, an interdisciplinary artist, at the opening. “This project brought me back to those roots. The quilts, many donated to me by descendants of slave owners, were very inspiring to work with. The clouds are made from raw cotton grown in North Carolina. All my work is created from personal experiences. My hope is always that others will see it as a gateway, develop their own message and feel a part of the art.”

Dr. Matthew McLendon, the Ringling Museum’s associate curator of modern and contemporary art, added, “Codex plays a significant role in the continued maturation of Sanford Biggers’ work. Here we see the artist reconfiguring symbolism he has used before in three-dimensional forms through the return to his earliest form of expression, painting. As such, the works in Codex offer an unprecedented chance to see Biggers in the process of evolving his artistic practice.”

The Greenfield Prize was established in 2009 by longtime Sarasota residents Bob and Louise Greenfield through the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation. The prize is a means by which a groundbreaking, enduring work of art will be created by a commissioned artist within two years of receiving the award. According to Bob Greenfield, “the intention of the Greenfield Prize is 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.” Winners are rotated within three disciplines: theater, music, and visual art. The Prize consists of a $30,000 commission of an original work of art, a residency at the Hermitage, and a partnership with a professional arts organization to develop the work and assistance in moving the work forward into the American arts world.

“The Hermitage Artist Retreat is a big organization in a deceptively small package,” remarked Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers. “Beautifully situated on 8.5 acres on the Gulf of Mexico, we offer an amazingly inspiring environment in which to create art. We offer only invited residencies, selected by distinguished arts leaders in all disciplines. Some of the world’s busiest and most in demand artists are finding their way to us. The Greenfield Prize is a special opportunity to encourage new art making by commissioning a project of the artist’s choice. The results in the four short years since its inception have already been staggering. We look forward to continuing to support great artists in their quest to create important work.”

A distinguished seven-person panel consisting of some of the most highly respected authorities in American art select each Greenfield Prize recipient. Three voting members on each jury are joined by a producing partner representative, Joni Greenfield of the Greenfield Foundation, Hermitage Greenfield Prize Director Patricia Caswell and Hermitage Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers who facilitates. Jury for the Biggers selection included Chair Dan Cameron, chief curator Orange County Museum of Art, Franklin Sirmans, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) curator and artistic director of the Prospect.3 biennial and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, Aspen Art Museum CEO, director and chief curator. In addition to Biggers, other prizewinners have been playwrights Craig Lucas (2009) and John Guare (2011), and composers Eve Beglarian (2009) and Vijay Iyer (2012).

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.

Artist Ralph Lemon Asks Questions

Artist Ralph Lemon began by asking dancers to write a question, then dance the question. He asked others watching, do you know the dancer’s question? Does it matter? He asked the dancers, “Does it matter that people are watching?” He ended with “The resonance that was left behind is of the ‘doing,’ beyond the rigor and the discipline of dance…the other stuff is just the parts”.

Ralph Lemon

Artist Ralph Lemon began by asking dancers to write a question, then dance the question. He asked others watching, do you know the dancer’s question? Does it matter? He asked the dancers, “Does it matter that people are watching?” He ended with “The resonance that was left behind is of the ‘doing,’ beyond the rigor and the discipline of dance…the other stuff is just the parts”. This was at a workshop partnership between the Hermitage and the newly formed Sarasota Dance Alliance. More images taken by Ralph Barnette are on the Hermitage Facebook.

Annie Morrison, Hermitage Artist reads at Bookstore1

Ann Morrison is an award-winning professional actor for over 25 years, and starred on Broadway (MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG) awarding her a Theatre World Award. Seen locally in theatres and cabarets, Annie has created DISCOURSE OF A MAID, part one of a trilogy based on Celtic Mythology and storytelling.

Hermitage Fellow, Ann Morrison will read at Bookstore! on January 10 at 6:00 PM.

Ann Morrison is an award-winning professional actor for over 25 years, and starred on Broadway (MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG) awarding her a Theatre World Award. Seen locally in theatres and cabarets, Annie has created DISCOURSE OF A MAID, part one of a trilogy based on Celtic Mythology and storytelling. She is currently developing her second series in the trilogy called MOVEMENT OF A MODRON after her sabbatical in Scotland and Glastonbury, England. After being invited to the Hermitage Artist Retreat for a three week writing venture, Ann has completed her draft of MOVEMENT OF THE MODRON which takes the audience on a storytelling adventure through stories from three Celtic Mythology women. Annie shares what their stories have triggered in personal storytelling for her, and weaves a myth for the future based on Annie’s journey.

Bookstore1 is located at 1359 Main St # 101 Sarasota, FL 34236. For information call: (941) 365-7900.

Artful Lobster 2011 A Great Success!

It was a picture perfect day for the annual Artful Lobster (AL) event at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. Thanks to the efforts of three-time Chair and Hermitage Trustee Debbi Benedict and her talented committee, the AL had its largest attendance to date.

Cellist Michael Fitzpatrick
Cellist Michael Fitzpatrick

It was a picture perfect day for the annual Artful Lobster (AL) event at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. Thanks to the efforts of three-time Chair and Hermitage Trustee Debbi Benedict and her talented committee, the AL had its largest attendance to date; exciting new live and silent auction items, including unique trips to Santa Fe, Antibes and Washington DC; and the always anticipated delicious lobster and barbecue lunch prepared and served by Michael’s On East. Guests were invited to tour the historic campus, generally not open to the public. All artists in residence were in attendance and spoke to guests about their work and Hermitage experience. Topping off the program was a special performance by guest artist and past Hermitage Fellow, Cellist Michael Fitzpatrick. The audience rose to their feet with a standing ovation and if that wasn’t enough, everyone went home with a specially-created CD of Fitzpatrick’s music. And of course it was a rousing financial success. While all bills are not yet accounted for, the ballpark figures point to the largest profit in the event’s history. Thanks to all who attended and contributed to make the afternoon so special.

Special Artful Lobster Treat!

There’s something new happening at this year’s Artful Lobster fundraiser on the Hermitage campus. We have invited one of our early artists, renowned cellist Michael Fitzpatrick to return to the Hermitage and perform a brief, pre-lunch concert for this year’s event and Michael has generously agreed. This is a great gift to the Hermitage and to our supporters who attend the event.

Michael performing for the Dali Lama during his 'Talk For World Peace' in Washington, D.C.

There’s something new happening at this year’s Artful Lobster fundraiser on the Hermitage campus. We have invited one of our early artists, renowned cellist Michael Fitzpatrick to return to the Hermitage and perform a brief, pre-lunch concert for this year’s event and Michael has generously agreed. This is a great gift to the Hermitage and to our supporters who attend the event. Michael performs around the world, most recently for the Dali Lama’s “Talk For World Piece” in Washingtion, D.C., and as a featured soloist at the Spoleto Festival in Milan, Italy. We’re adding a little more art to the Artful Lobster and it is a special treat for everyone!

The Artful Lobster takes place on the Hermitage campus on November 19, 2011 from 11am to 2pm. Catered by Michael’s On East, the lunch features 1.5 lb Maine lobsters, grilled chicken, ribs, corn on the cob, chowder, and all the extras. There will be a brief live auction of one-of-a-kind items and vacations in addition to specialty gift baskets with values from $500 – $1600 in silent auction. Tickets are $125 general and $250 patron. Table sponsorships are $2500. All proceeds from the event support free Hermitage community activities in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Manatee counties. Tickets can be purchased right here on this website or by calling 941-475-2098.

The Artful Lobster has become a fall tradition on Florida’s Southwest coast. It’s a perfectly lovely way to spend a relaxing afternoon in the amazing environment that inspires painters, poets, and playwrights from around the world. Dress is casual and the “vibe” is informal. Tour the charming artist studios, meet the resident artists, and enjoy connecting with old friends and meeting new ones.

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.