Dear Friends of the Hermitage

If you missed the March 16th meeting of the Friends, this message may be for you. After serving as the Coordinator of the Friends of the Hermitage for the past several years, I am stepping aside to make room for someone else to fill the position.

Dear Friends,

Portrait of Marianne painted by artist and Friend of the Hermitage, Jacobina Trump

If you missed the March 16th meeting of the Friends, this message may be for you. After serving as the Coordinator of the Friends of the Hermitage for the past several years, I am stepping aside to make room for someone else to fill the position.

I have enjoyed meeting all of you and working with many of you during my tenure. Thank you for all your willingness to help out when needed and for your friendship that I hope will continue to grow in the future.

Soon Mike and I will be heading north to Canada for the summer. When we return in the fall we plan to volunteer at the Hermitage as usual. I will continue to oversee the libraries in the main cottage and to serve as the Friends liaison to the Artful Lobster Committee. I also hope to organize more literary events whenever there is an appropriate writer in residence.

So exactly what does the position entail? First of all, the length of time you have been a Friend is of no concern. New Friends are as welcome as “old” Friends to step up to the plate. Being the Friends Coordinator is a great way to get to know the workings of the Hermitage, the artists, the staff and the volunteers. The Friends meet about four times a year and at most of those meetings we are treated to a special program by a Hermitage
Fellow. At this past meeting we enjoyed a fabulous program by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova. Just another perk of being a Friend.

Coordinator responsibilities include being an ambassador for the Hermitage as in networking with the community and spreading the word. Greeting returning Friends at meetings and events and welcoming new and potential volunteers is important to keeping the Friends strong and growing.

Sharyn Lonsdale, the campus director, will be work with you in setting the agenda for meetings. She will also make it incredibly easy for you to actively participate in those meetings. You will work with Sharyn to make sure volunteers are happy with their roles in the organization. In addition, you are free to pursue any project that interests you and to encourage other volunteers to do the same.

It may be that two or more of you would like to share the position of Coordinator. If you would like to volunteer your leadership, Sharyn will welcome you with open arms.

I look forward to seeing you at the last meeting of the season slated for Friday, May 6th, details to be announced later. Hopefully, Sharyn can introduce us to a new Coordinator of the Friends by then.

Happy spring!
Marianne

Bringing the Hermitage to You

I recently had the delightful opportunity to speak to a local group, The Lemon Bay Garden Club. Several of the members of this group are also Friends of the Hermitage and every year swoop in like Santa’s elves to decorate the Hermitage House for the holidays. It was a pleasure to return the favor and share the Hermitage with those members who might not be as well acquainted with us.

I recently had the delightful opportunity to speak to a local group, The Lemon Bay Garden Club. Several of the members of this group are also Friends of the Hermitage and every year swoop in like Santa’s elves to decorate the Hermitage House for the holidays. It was a pleasure to return the favor and share the Hermitage with those members who might not be as well acquainted with us.

I also just got to speak about the history of the Hermitage in front of hundreds of people at the Lemon Bay History Fest Cracker Fair, a celebration of Old Florida. Clocking in at 109-years-old, the Hermitage House certainly qualifies as “Old Florida.” And as for history, we’ve got plenty.

This event took place just a few miles from the Hermitage but to my surprise, many in the audience not only had never been to one of our free programs, but they weren’t sure where we were or what we did. They were thrilled to hear that we had renowned national and international writers, artists, composers and choreographers staying right here in Englewood and sharing their work and talent throughout the area.

The Festival also provided several volunteers the opportunity to chat up the Hermitage with others in the community. It was wonderful to watch Margaret Riley and her husband Pat, John Arnold and Maria Baskin share their enthusiasm and knowledge, along with the beautiful scrapbooks created by Jackie Parsons. Thanks to all our Friends who gave up part of their Saturday to spread the word about the Hermitage.


John Arnold, Margaret Riley and Pat Riley get ready to greet the crowd at the Lemon Bay History Fest “Cracker Fair” on Feb. 13.

Friends Column

Now it’s May and many of you are gone for the summer. Others of you who are year-round residents hopefully will continue your volunteerism as usual. For me it’s a “push-me/pull you time of year with looking forward to another summer in Ontario and at the same time being reluctant to leave the Hermitage at this exciting time in its history. I would love to be here to help with the move to the Palms next door. In case you didn’t know, there may be plans for the Friends to have a room all our own where we can have meetings and work together on projects.

Dear Friends of the Hermitage,

Now it’s May and many of you are gone for the summer. Others of you who are year-round residents hopefully will continue your volunteerism as usual. For me it’s a “push-me/pull you time of year with looking forward to another summer in Ontario and at the same time being reluctant to leave the Hermitage at this exciting time in its history. I would love to be here to help with the move to the Palms next door. In case you didn’t know, there may be plans for the Friends to have a room all our own where we can have meetings and work together on projects.

Many thanks to Linda Schilke, Bob Kinsley and Mike Schafer who cleaned closets, cupboards, drawers, nooks and crannys. Thanks to Richard Parsons who made the door to the Harry Potter closet open and close easily. Thanks also to Mary Clement, Joan Dusenbury, Audrey Snyder, Carolyn Moore, Velvet Wildermuth and Kay Rihn who made short work of giftwrapping favors for the Greenfield Dinner. Thanks to Gladys Varga and Jacobina Trump for their work in the libraries. Thanks to Tom Dignam who transported a donated bookshelf from Venice and Jackie Parsons and Carolyn Moore who recycled worn-out Artful Lobster tablecloths into napkins. And a special thank you to new friend Becky Dexter who used her design skills to rearrange furnishings in the Hermitage House.

Please mark your calendars for a special event planned for Monday, November 2nd. Writer Tony Eprile will be in residence, and all of you are invited to take part in meeting with him to discuss his novel, “The Persistence of Memoy”. Tony is a South African now living in Vermont. His novel won the Koret Jewish Book Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. It was also listed as a Best Book of 2004 by the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Also invited to the meeting are three book discussion groups from Manasota Key. It should be a stimulating morning with Tony and a chance to meet other readers who live on the Key. You are welcome to bring family and friends and enjoy the beach afterwards. You can order “The Persistence of Memory” from Book Store1 in Sarasota. It is also available in hardcover, paperback and affordable used copies at Amazon.com. Stay tuned for more details in the fall.

Have a happy summer, and I look forward to seeing you around the time of Pioneer Days in Englewood for our annual Open House and other Labor Day weekend activities.

Marianne Schafer
Coordinator of the Friends of the Hermitage

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.

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.

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.

Art critic Jerry Saltz takes on the 40,000-headed beast

Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic for New York magazine, wants you to like him—but only if you are willing to engage in a dialogue about art. When I got the opportunity to sit down with this charming and self-effacing art critic extraordinaire, I was immediately swept up in his love of art, writing and conversation. Saltz was part of a panel of experts in a Creative Conversation on contemporary art in America during the Greenfield Prize Weekend for the Hermitage Artist Retreat. He gave the keynote address at the Greenfield Prize dinner, where artist Trenton Doyle Hancock received the 2013 award.

Post by Bonnie Silvestri

TWIS Contributor Bonnie Greenball Silvestri sat down with New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz. Photo by Cliff Roles.

Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic for New York magazine, wants you to like him—but only if you are willing to engage in a dialogue about art. When I got the opportunity to sit down with this charming and self-effacing art critic extraordinaire, I was immediately swept up in his love of art, writing and conversation. Saltz was part of a panel of experts in a Creative Conversation on contemporary art in America during the Greenfield Prize Weekend for the Hermitage Artist Retreat. He gave the keynote address at the Greenfield Prize dinner, where artist Trenton Doyle Hancock received the 2013 award.

was already a fan of Saltz from his weekly appearances on Bravo’s TV show Work of Art, a reality show seeking the next top artist. He was widely criticized for pandering to the public and derided for “destroying art” in becoming a part of the show, and I liked that he was willing to continue in spite of his detractors. But his on-screen persona was a bit edgy. What I didn’t know was that he would be so easy-going and spirited in person and that we would be so squarely on the same page that the arts need to become more accessible.

The art world, especially the gallery scene in New York City, often gets a bad rap. Outside the tiny circle of artists, gallerists, curators and collectors, contemporary art can seem like an impenetrable wall to the general public. But Saltz is dedicated to tearing down that wall. In contrast to his detractors, Saltz believes that “art will do just fine” if it becomes more democratized.

“All you good little humanists, you want art to be understood and embraced by the public,” Saltz said, but then these same folks panic the minute the process of art making and art criticism is opened up for popular consumption.

To some extent, Saltz is a one-man show who allows art criticism to “cross this divide” between art makers and art consumers. In addition to his work for the magazine, he lectures regularly for art programs of the top universities in the country. Perhaps it is his training as an educator that makes him want to go beyond the confines of the four corners of his magazine. He responded with a personal note to every person who commented on his Work of Art recap blogs, which in the end garnered over 100,000 comments. Furthermore, Saltz said he resisted the magazine’s attempt to put up a firewall between him and his audience because he doesn’t want to “dance naked” alone. He wants to be understood. His “skin is like an elephant,” and he loves communicating with the public about his writing, art criticism and the art world itself.

Saltz wants to move away from the vertical model in which the art critic tells everyone else what to think about a painting, a sculpture or an exhibit, and that goes for the artists as well. Rather, he wants to create a “more horizontal platform” in which everyone has a voice in the creative process. He calls it the “40,000 headed beast” that seeks to engage in a conversation about art through online media.

“I’m not interested in power, I’m interested in credibility and in respect,” Saltz said. As he opens himself up to public critique, he makes himself a more valid critic. By pulling back the veil on the mysteries of contemporary art, he may be dragging the whole art world with him. Much like Web MD began to level the playing field in the doctor/patient relationship, Saltz has validated our particular tastes.

“My 15 percent may not overlap with your 15 percent,” Saltz said. But without public connossieur-ship, the art world may go the way of the dinosaurs. And with a richer understanding, we can begin to rely on the vehicle of the creative arts to help us communicate more meaningfully with one another. Three cheers to Saltz for taking on the establishment and winning!

******

Bonnie Silvestri is Senior Fellow for Arts, Culture and Civic Engagement and an instructor teaching law classes in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. Prior to moving to Sarasota, she lived in New York City from 1996 to 2006. She received her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in English with a minor in Art History from Vanderbilt University and her Juris Doctor from The Michael E. Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Most importantly, she is mom to the beautiful Daphne and wife of Michael Silvestri.

Hermitage Work Touches the World

Work created at the Hermitage is being produced, performed, published, and exhibited at major venues around the world.

Gogol by Lera Auerbach

Work created at the Hermitage is being produced, performed, published, and exhibited at major venues around the world. Here are a few examples of what our Fellows are doing:

  • Lera Auerbach’s opera Gogol saw a major production at the Theatre An Du Wein in Vienna, Austria last November.
  • Christopher Merrill’s latest non-fiction book The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War was published in 2012.
  • Anna Clyne, Resident Composer for Ricardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony performed Prince Of Clouds in Chicago on December 13, 2012 (It will be performed at a total of five cities around America in 2012/2013).
  • Craig Lucas’ play The Lying Lesson will premiere at the Atlantic Theatre in New York City in March, 2013.
  • Craig’s opera, Two Boys, written with Hermitage composer Nico Muhly, premiered in London at the English National Opera and opens December 12, 2013 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.
  • Pulitzer-winning composer Bernard Rands wrote a piano concerto that will see its premiere with the Boston Symphony in April 2014.
  • The Hermitage commissioned visual artist Sanford Biggers for a installation through awarding him the 2010 Greenfield Prize. That installation was exhibited at the Ringling Museum of Art for almost seven months, seen by tens of thousands, and now we are seriously exploring a national tour where it will be seen by many thousands more.

All this work was created at the Hermitage yet this is still just a sampling of the work and level of artistry that is being created every day on our campus by artists from all over the world. It’s not only our privilege to serve these wonderful creators, it’s our work. The impact, in the end, touches audiences, viewers, readers by the thousands. Of this, we couldn’t be more proud.

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.