Jennifer Packer wins 2020 Greenfield Prize

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in collaboration with the Greenfield Foundation, has selected New York-based artist Jennifer Packer as the winner of the 2020 Greenfield Prize, given this year in the field of visual art. Packer will receive a six-week residency at the Hermitage and a $30,000 commission for a new work, which will premiere in Sarasota in 2022 with the Hermitage’s presenting partner, The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

Jennifer Packer creates expressionist portraits, interior scenes, and still lifes that suggest a casual intimacy. Packer views her works as the result of an authentic encounter and exchange. The models for her portraits—commonly friends or family members—are relaxed and seemingly unaware of the artist’s or viewer’s gaze. Packer’s paintings are rendered in loose line and brush stroke using a limited color palette, often to the extent that her subject merges with or retreats into the background. Suggesting an emotional and psychological depth, her work is enigmatic, avoiding a straightforward reading. “I think about images that resist, that attempt to retain their secrets or maintain their composure, that put you to work,” she explains. “I hope to make works that suggest how dynamic and complex our lives and relationships really are.”

A Lesson in Longing, 2019, oil on canvas, 108 x 144 inches

Born in 1984 in Philadelphia, Packer received her BFA from the Tyler University School of Art at Temple University in 2007, and her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2012. She was the 2012-2013 Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and a Visual Arts Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, from 2014-2016. Packer currently lives and works in New York and is an assistant professor in the painting department at RISD.

Packer will receive her award at the Greenfield Prize Award Dinner on Sunday, April 19, 6 p.m., at Michael’s On East, 1212 East Avenue South, in Sarasota.

Check out what’s coming up in February and March

The Hermitage has some fantastic free community programs coming up in February and March. Join us here at the Hermitage, or at Boosktore1Sarasota. Reservations are required.

The Suffragist Project: Supporting Women’s Voices in Playwriting with Playwright and Hermitage Fellow Julia Jordan
February 11, 5:30 p.m.
Bookstore1Sarasota

This event is in collaboration with Florida Studio Theatre’s Supporting Women’s Voices in Playwriting program.
Playwright and Hermitage Fellow Julia Jordan will speak about advocacy to focus national attention of gender disparity in playwriting and the strides women playwrights are making. The conversation includes Catherine Randazzo, FST’s associate artistic director, and Patricia Caswell, the Hermitage’s program director and co-founder. Read more and reserve your seats here.

Literary Editing and Publishing with Poet and Editor Lisa Ampleman
February 14, 5 p.m.

Hermitage Palm House
Lisa, the managing editor of The Cincinnati Review and poetry series editor for Acre Books, will give advice about the submission process and talk about some of the challenges facing editors. Read more and reserve your seats here.

From Broadway to the Beach with Musical Theater Composer Adam Gwon
February 21, 5 p.m.
Hermitage Artist Retreat beach

Adam, hailed as “a promising newcomer to our talent-hungry musical theater” whose songs are “funny, urbane, with a sweetness that doesn’t cloy” by The New York Times, will play piano and sing his own songs, demonstrating how a musical is born and evolves from idea to stage. Read more and reserve your seats here.

Restoring Coastal Ecology and Creating a Sense of Place with Landscape Architect Michael Gilkey
February 28, 5 p.m.
Hermitage Palm House

Michael will share his vision for the restoration of the Hermitage acreage, including the “Preserve” which contains three distinct habitats: coastal hammock, dune and wetlands. Audience members will have the opportunity to learn about native Florida plants and the process of creating an Old Florida landscape. After the talk, participants are welcome to walk on the beach to enjoy the sunset. Read more and reserve your seats here.

Sonic Meditation at Sunset with Composer Evan Premo
March 6, 6 p.m.
Hermitage Artist Retreat beach

Evan (pictured) is a teaching artist, composer, and double bassist. He will lead several sonic meditations, designed to find connection and peace through deep listening and spontaneous sounding. Read more and reserve your seats here.

Hermitage offers four free community programs in December

The first of the Hermitage’s free December programs is “Poem, Play and Novel: Three Readings,” with poet Greg Wrenn, playwright Sharyn Rothstein, and novelist Sugi Ganeshananthan, Friday, December 13, 4:30 p.m., on the beach at the Hermitage. Wrenn, a lifelong scuba diver, will give a reading from his eco memoir centered around the ocean. Rothstein, a playwright and television writer, will read from one of her many works. Ganeshananthan will read from her novel in progress, Movement, which tracks a medic-turned-doctor during and after the Sri Lankan civil war. Audience members are welcome to bring blankets and chairs; in case of rain, the event will be moved inside. Click for reservations.

Violinist and freestyle composition artist Mazz Swift (pictured) will perform an informal concert on Friday, December 20, 4:30 p.m., in the Palm House at the Hermitage. She’ll play works in progress, songs of resistance, spirituals, modern day protest music, and share her thoughts on the Ghanaian concept of “Sankofa,” or looking back to learn how to move forward. This will be followed by an opt-in group exploration of conduction (conducted improvisation). No musical, improvisational, or conduction experience is necessary for participation. Musicians are welcome to bring their instruments. Click for reservations.

Hermitage North returns featuring an open class with mime artist Bill Bowers, Saturday, December 21, 11 a.m., in the Jane B. Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for Performing Arts. Hailed by critics as the most accomplished and renowned mime of his generation, Bowers performs and teaches the art of physical storytelling throughout the world. He is also an award-winning actor and has appeared on the stages of Broadway, The Kennedy Center, The White House, La MaMa, the New York International Fringe Festival and many other venues. In this program, Bowers will demonstrate basic pantomime technique and perform selections from his solo plays. FSU students who have been studying with Bowers will share work from their week-long residency with him. Reservations can be made by calling the FSU Center box office at 941-351-8000.

Let’s Talk Opera,” part of the Fridays @ Five series, is Friday, December 27, 5 p.m., in the Palm House. Engage in conversation with contemporary opera creators Laura Kaminsky, composer, and Kimberly Reed, librettist and filmmaker. They wrote the opera, “As One,” with Hermitage Fellow Mark Campbell.  “As One” is the most-produced modern opera in America.  Video opera scenes will bookend the discussion. Click for reservations.

All programs are subject to change. Please check the Hermitage website or Facebook page for updated program status.

Artful Lobster Nov. 9

The highly popular Artful Lobster is our signature fundraising event, and the only one to take place on our Manasota Key Gulf-front campus. With luscious lobster, a complete gourmet buffet, live entertainment by Hermitage artists, and an anticipated auction, the Artful Lobster kicks off the season for many in our community.

NEW THIS YEAR – There will be an air conditioned trolley bringing Artful Lobster attendees to the Hermitage from Sarasota.

Learn more here.

Co-chaired by Susan Brainerd and Susan McLeod, all proceeds go toward the Hermitage mission: inspiring the artists of our time.  

PoetryLife 2019 Community Favorite Poem Reading

In 2012, the featured PoetryLife poet was Robert Pinsky, former poet laureate of the U.S. and founder of the Favorite Poem Project. Pinsky led Sarasota community members in the city’s first-ever Favorite Poem reading – citizens of all ages reading the poetry they have come to know throughout their lives. A Community Favorite Poem Reading has been a tradition in Sarasota ever since.

PoetryLife’s Favorite Poem Reading will be held April 19 at 5:00 pm at The Hermitage Artist Retreat, 6630 Manasota Key Road, Englewood, Florida – on the beach if weather permits.

To apply to be a reader, please email the following information to PoetryLife. You may also drop off your application at Bookstore1Sarasota, which is located in downtown Sarasota at the corner of Main Street and Palm Avenue. Deadline for submissions is March 15.

The poem you select must be one that is published by a recognized poet. It may not be your own poem (published or not) or the poem of a close relative.

Please select a poem that is accessible – i.e. a poem that an audience can “get” when hearing it for the first time. And select a poem that is not overly long – look for one that is no more than two pages in length.

Select a poem that has personal meaning for you. As part of the event, readers are given one minute to explain – without notes – why they have selected that particular poem. PoetryLife is looking for personal reasons, not academic reasons.

Submit the following to PoetryLife:

1. Your name

2. Your email address

3. Your phone number

4. Your occupation or, if retired, your former occupation

5. The title of the poem you would like to read

6. The author of the poem

7. Your reason for wanting to read this poem

8. A copy of the poem

Or drop your submission off at Bookstore1Sarasota, 12 South Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota.

Deadline for submissions is March 15.

Up to 20 poems will be selected for inclusion in the Favorite Poem Reading. If your poem is selected, you will be asked to present it at the event. PoetryLife will notify you by April 10 and, should your poem be selected, they will call to confirm your availability.

Works by Regina Scully on display through December

Small paintings and works on paper by New Orleans visual artist Regina Scully are on view in the Hermitage Palm House from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, through December. Admission is free.

Regina lives and paints in the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the recipient of the 2017 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant Award. Scully’s artwork is showcased in a host of private and public collections, including the Microsoft Art Collection, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation Collection, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Historic beachside property tours offered in September

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

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

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

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

Watch Your Mailbox: The Greenfield Prize Dinner is Almost Here

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

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

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

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

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