Theater artist Aleshea Harris wins 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize

On Monday, January 11, Aleshea Harris received the news of her win via Zoom.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in collaboration with the Greenfield Foundation, has selected OBIE-winning playwright Aleshea Harris as the winner of the 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize, given this year in the artistic discipline of theater. Harris will receive a six-week residency at the Hermitage and a $30,000 commission for a new work, which will have its first public presentation in Sarasota in 2023 in collaboration with the Hermitage’s presenting partner, Asolo Repertory Theatre.

Jury Chair Mandy Greenfield stated, “Aleshea’s stunning body of work, including Is God Is and What to Send Up When It Goes Down, already distinguishes her as one of our most exquisite and fearless American playwrights. Her brilliant imagination, vast intellect, and innate theatricality guarantees a limitless future for her work and its impact. It was an honor to serve as a juror alongside distinguished theater-makers Nataki Garrett and Robert O’Hara. The Hermitage Greenfield Prize is a rare and special award that values and supports playwrights for their unique ability to reach and transform audiences. We celebrate Aleshea Harris; finalists Donja R. Love, Nikkole Salter, and Whitney White; the Hermitage Artist Retreat; and the Greenfield Foundation for the beautiful community it brings together with this prize.” 

Aleshea Harris’s play Is God Is (directed by Taibi Magar at Soho Rep) won the 2016 Relentless Award, an OBIE Award for playwriting in 2017, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award in 2019, was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and made The Kilroys’ List of “the most recommended un and underproduced plays by trans and female authors of color” for 2017. What to Send Up When It Goes Down (directed by Whitney White, produced by The Movement Theatre Company), a play-pageant-ritual response to anti-Blackness, had its critically-acclaimed NYC premiere in 2018, was featured in the April 2019 issue of American Theatre Magazineand was nominated for a Drama Desk award. 

Harris will be celebrated at the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner, an outdoor event at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, on Sunday, April 11, 2021. For more information about this event, click here.

Read more about the 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize here.

Dates announced for 2020 Artful Lobster and 2021 Greenfield Prize Dinner

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announced the dates for the organization’s two signature fundraising events in 2020-2021. The highly popular Artful Lobster will be Saturday, November 14, 2020, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Hermitage’s historic campus on Manasota Key. The Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner, which will honor the 2021 prize recipient, is scheduled for Sunday, April 11, 2021, 6-8:30 p.m., at Michael’s On East in Sarasota. Details for both events, including ticket prices, sponsorship opportunities and entertainment, will be announced later in the summer.

Hermitage cancels upcoming public programs and Greenfield Prize Weekend

Andy Sandberg, the artistic director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, announced that the organization is canceling this year’s Greenfield Prize Weekend, which was scheduled for April 18 and 19, 2020. This year’s celebration was scheduled to begin with a world premiere reading of a new play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and 2018 recipient of the Greenfield Prize Martyna Majok (at the Asolo Rep). The weekend also included the “Artist Talk: The Work and Influences of Jennifer Packer” (at Sarasota Art Museum) with the 2020 Greenfield Prize recipient, visual artist Jennifer Packer. The organization’s signature fundraising event, the Greenfield Prize Dinner, scheduled for Sunday, April 19, is also cancelled, with plans to recognize Jennifer Packer at a future date to be determined. In addition, the organization is suspending its free community programs in April.

“In light of coronavirus concerns and in coordination with the Greenfield Foundation, we felt it was prudent to cancel all events pertaining to this year’s Greenfield Weekend, and move ahead with a scaled-back version of the award presentation in the months ahead when the situation has calmed down,” says Sandberg. “We have been in communication with this year’s Greenfield Prize winner, Jennifer Packer, who has been extremely gracious and understanding. We are also coordinating with the Asolo Rep to find a future date for Martyna Majok’s reading, and we look forward to welcoming both of these extraordinary artists back to Sarasota.”

Sandberg says that canceling one of the organization’s largest and most recognizable events could have a serious financial impact. “So many of our fellow arts leaders have had to make the same difficult decisions. In a time of crisis like this, non-profit arts organizations are often some of the hardest hit, and the support of our generous donors and patrons is more critical and meaningful than ever.”

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.

David Burnett exhibit featured in ESPN The Magazine

Who are you calling old? Age is but a number for these senior athletes

“Their hair is gray, their skin is wrinkled and they’re unlikely to defy the law of gravity for more than a moment at a time. But photographer David Burnett, who has covered 12 Olympic Games, considers them the most inspiring subjects he’s captured.” Read the article Steve Wulf here.

Photo credit: David Burnett, Runners, 2017 National Senior Games, Birmingham, AL, June 2017, ©2019 David Burnett/Contact Press Images — “Fourth Quarter,” commissioned by the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat

Helga Davis awarded Greenfield Prize in Music

Congratulations to Helga Davis, who was recently awarded the 2019 Greenfield Prize in Music. Helga is a vocalist and performance artist with feet planted on the most prestigious international stages and with firm roots in the realities and concerns of her local community whose work draws out insights that illuminate how artistic leaps for an individual can offer connection among audiences. Davis was principal actor in the 25th-anniversary international revival of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s seminal opera Einstein on the Beach. Among the collaborative and works written for her are Oceanic Verses by Paola Prestini, You Us We All by Shara Nova and Andrew Ondrejcak and Faust’s Box, by Italian contemporary music composer Andrea Liberovici.  Robert Wilson describes her as “a united whole, with spellbinding inner power and strength.” She also starred in Wilson’s The Temptation of St. Anthony, with libretto and score by Bernice Johnson Reagon; and The Blue Planet, by Peter Greenaway. She is the recipient of the 2014 BRIC Media Arts Fireworks Grant and completed her first evening-length piece,Cassandra. Current projects include Silent Voices with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus with text by Hilton Als, Jomama Jones Blacklight by Daniel Alexander Jones, Requiem for a Tuesday with bass-baritone Davóne Tines and dancer/choreographer Reggie Gray,  Yet Unheard, a tribute to Sandra Bland by Courtney Bryan, based on the poem by Sharan Strange. She has conceived and performed First Responder and Wanna as responses to Until and The Let Go by multidisciplinary artist Nick Cave. She is artist in residence at National Sawdust, host of the eponymous podcast HELGA on WQXR/New Sounds, and is the 2018-19 visiting curator for the performing arts at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

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.

Why Trenton Doyle Hancock?

Trenton Doyle Hancock was selected to receive the 2013 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. Why Trenton?

Trenton Doyle Hancock was selected to receive the 2013 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. Why Trenton?

To get to the answer, let me backtrack to the founding of the prize for a minute. The prize was created by Bob Greenfield and me over the summer of 2008. Funded by the Greenfield Foundation, now of Philadelphia, the prize was the vision of Bob, patriarch of the Foundation. I got to work with his vision, and translate it into practical terms and scale it to a level that it would meet the goals of the prize.

In going through some old emails, I came across this one from Bob about the goal of the prize.

An artist may merit our support simply on the basis of his/her ability to create a work of artistic merit, even though not socially significant, or of social significance even though short of the top in artistic merit. Our objective is impact, artistic, or social, or both.

Whether you connect with Trenton’s work or not, it’s work that is powerful in its authenticity. It’s real. And it’s really Trenton. Deeply so. And the work derives its enormous impact from this uniqueness.

While we lost Bob Greenfield this year, it’s my job to carry forward the vision along with Joni Greenfield on the Foundation board. Trenton’s work is what Bob was talking about when he wrote “Our objective is impact, artistic, or social, or both.” His work embodies the values that drove Bob to create the prize – work that pushes forward, intrepid, authentic, and fearless. And this is why Trenton is the right choice for the 2013 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

To see more of Trenton’s work follow this link:

http://www.jamescohan.com/artists/trenton-doyle-hancock/

You can see a video of Trenton speaking about his work here:

http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/trenton-doyle-hancock

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).