Five Florida arts educators chosen for STARs residency

This month, five Florida public school arts teachers are spending part of their summer breaks on Manasota Key working on their own artistic endeavors. They are the winners of the 2020 State Teacher/Artist Residency program (STARs), presented by the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE). This year’s recipients include three visual arts instructors, a library media specialist, and a creative writing and English teacher. The five receive a residency at the Hermitage on Manasota Key, where they have the opportunity to leave their classroom responsibilities behind and focus on their work as creative artists.

“These brilliant teachers are also talented artists in their own right,” says Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage. “During the academic year, their attention is devoted to their students, and this past semester has been particularly challenging for educators throughout our nation. The STARs program gives five distinguished teachers the opportunity to experience what leading artists from around the world have come to the Hermitage for – to focus on their craft, their art, and their creative process. Over the years, the STARs have created some truly stunning works of art and literature during their time at the Hermitage. Many teaching artist alumni have shared that this program enables them to return to their students with a new fire and passion for arts education.”

The chosen five are Daniela Drazan, a library specialist at Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks in Ocala; Gláucia Mir, a visual art, drawing and sculpture instructor at Liberty High School in Kissimmee; Joy Williams, a drawing, painting and ceramics instructor at North Fort Myers High (Center for the Arts) in Fort Myers; Tara Salovitz, an English and creative writing instructor at Port Charlotte High School in Port Charlotte; and Lucia Morales, a visual art instructor at Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy in North Miami Beach.

Florida arts educators apply for the Hermitage summer residencies through FAAE. Applications are open to all Florida music, theater, visual art, and creative writing teachers. Since the start of the program in 2011, 48 teachers have represented 21 Florida counties. Residencies culminate with a free community program; due to coronavirus, this year’s programs will be captured virtually and presented at a future date.

A Czech immigrant, Daniela Drazan has worked at the Library of Congress, taught English in Japan, conducted market research in the Czech Republic, and sang in a nightclub. She says that these experiences infuse and inspire her literary work. She hoped to write more and achieve publication but “like for many of us, work and family pushed aside the dream.” During her residency at the Hermitage, she hopes to continue work on a novel she’s started. “At five pages a day at the minimum, it might just be possible to complete the first draft, especially with a residency that provides the time and space for contemplation as well as productivity,” says Drazan.

Brazilian-born mixed media artist Gláucia Mir spent her childhood in São Paulo and her teens and 20s in New York City. Later she lived in the bucolic Bucks County, in Pennsylvania and now she calls Central Florida home. Her background in illustration and her gusto for adventure means her artwork often tells a story. Mir says she “thrives in the knowledge that my art can bring joy, questions or even disturb the viewer.” During her residency at the Hermitage, she plans on “delving into a set of works inspired by the ‘Mapping Vulnerability’ works that I began during my final graduate capstone project. My first set of works consisted of ink wash and mixed-media paintings which together made one large body of work. I would like to continue experimenting by using white on black to create a second set.” She adds that she would also like to read and listen to audiobooks and podcasts—something she rarely has time for. Finally, she says “I am my own worst enemy in settling down to work, because I let interruptions become my excuses. This time alone will let me focus and get to work.”

Joy Williams says that her art is inspired by Robert Rauschenberg, who told her that his mission is to “ennoble the ordinary.” “Our conversation inspired me to crystalize the message of my own work,” says Williams. “My objective is to offer an aesthetic of flowing ‘waves of joy’ in contrast to the angst of modern life.” The artist and teacher says she hopes to continue creating “art that concerns our worldwide need for clean water and clean oceans. I would like to continue this theme but expand mediums to work with printmaking and sculpture, incorporating objects found on location at the Hermitage. While I will take a stroll on the beach or a kayak in the mangroves, I will also be able to work well into the wee hours of the night as my muse calls.”

Tara Salovitz has already self-publisheda novel and says she will spend her time at the Hermitage to work on a young adult novel that she’s already begun. “It’s the story of two extraordinary sisters who are on a treacherous journey across the country in order to fulfill their destiny. The book is to be the first in a trilogy. I would strive to write or work on some aspect of my writing for at least eight hours a day.” Salovitz says that she also hopes to spend her time at the Hermitage reading books about her craft. “As a novice writer, I try to learn as much as I can from experts,” she says. “As for the rest of my time, I would like to take a walk and perhaps go for a swim every day; hopefully, the fresh ocean air and physical activity would stimulate my imagination as well as sustain me through long hours of work.”

Originally from Lima, Peru, Lucia Morales says she derives great inspiration from her heritage. Leaving her home and family in Peru has also shaped her art in ways she’s still discovering. “Through dance and painting I feel that I can maintain the connection to my heritage and explore new pathways of the relationships that those who leave home come to form with their new one,” she says. During her residency, she hopes to “use the time and location as a catalyst for my creative process. A place and time to continue the introspection that I simply cannot continue as a busy art educator during the school year, and the perfect scenery to continue studying nature, light and composition through plein-air painting.”

“We look forward to seeing what this latest group of STARs will create,” says Sandberg. “It is an honor to celebrate Florida’s top arts educators, and we are grateful to the Florida Alliance for Arts Education for their continued collaboration.”

Pictured left to right, the 2020 Hermitage Artist Retreat STARs: Daniela Drazan, Lucia Morales, Tara Salovitz, Gláucia Mir, and Joy Williams.

Hermitage meets $150,000 matching challenge, achieves first million-dollar fiscal year

Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, today announced that the Hermitage has exceeded its $150,000 matching challenge, raising a total of $302,000 through this campaign in response to COVID-19. This spring fundraising initiative launched with a generous $100,000 pledge from the Manasota Key-based Cook family on April 7th to match every gift dollar-to-dollar through June 30th. The original $100,000 challenge was met in just four weeks, and an additional group of Hermitage supporters contributed $50,000 to extend the match. On Tuesday, June 30th, the Hermitage surpassed its goal.

“We cannot express our gratitude enough to everyone who helped us reach this milestone,” Sandberg stated. “I must recognize that this campaign was supported generously by all members of our community: our Hermitage Fellows and artists, our audiences, our longtime supporters, our artistic colleagues, the community foundations, our board of trustees, our staff, our volunteers, and many new champions of the Hermitage.”

In addition, the funds raised through this campaign enabled the organization to achieve its first million-dollar fiscal year, which concluded on June 30th.

“The generosity of our artists, our donors, and our community has helped to ensure the future of this truly vital institution. Without this essential support for artists and the creative process, without this space and freedom to shape and develop great works of the future, we would be staring down empty stages and empty pages long past the ramifications of any virus. No doubt, there are still many question marks and challenges ahead, but together, we can continue to support bold, impactful, and diverse works of art, theater, music, literature, and more that feed our souls and shape our cultural landscape.”

Watch Sandberg’s video thank you message here.

The Hermitage resumes its core residency operations this week, commencing with the STARS teaching artist program, in partnership with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education. The organization has implemented a number of social-distancing practices and policies to ensure the safety of artists, staff, and guests. Invitations have recently been issued by the Hermitage Curatorial Council for the 2020-2021 season. Hermitage Fellows will continue to engage in free community programs, and a number of these will be made available digitally until live programs resume.

Artists returning to Hermitage Artist Retreat

by Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 3, 2020

Like so many other arts organizations and businesses across the country, the Hermitage Artist Retreat essentially shut down in March as the coronavirus began to spread. But staff and work crews have been busy making adjustments to allow a variety of writers, visual artists, musicians and others to start returning this month.

The retreat, a collection of buildings and historic cottages on Manasota Key, provides a temporary home for artists to develop new projects or just to get away from the everyday work and life issues that get in the way of the creative process.

Hermitage fellows, who are selected by a curatorial council of experts in the performing, visual and literary arts, stay in historic but private cottages on the beach. They have sleeping and studio space and areas where they can talk or share meals with other artists also staying there.

“We are fortunate in the way the campus is set up in that it is naturally built for social distancing,” said Andy Sandberg, who took over last fall as the organization’s artistic director and CEO.

During the downtime, the cottages were enhanced to include individual refrigerator freezers, microwaves and toaster ovens to make it possible for artists to work and eat without having to share a communal kitchen for meals.

They will still be able to meet with other artists in outdoor settings, which health officials say is generally a safer environment and reduces the risk of spreading the virus.

“Unfortunately, they can’t have that kitchen huddle experience at the moment, but we’re finding ways to get our artists together socially,” Sandberg said. Typically, new groups of artists are treated to a welcome beach dinner and Sandberg said the staff is working out safe seating arrangements for such events.

The schedule of artists slated to visit Englewood had to be reset because of the closure. Artists are generally offered up to six weeks over a two-year period for their residencies. They also are required to take part in at least two public programs during their residency, sometimes done in conjunction with other area arts organizations.

Sandberg said that part of the program also is being reevaluated and may temporarily incorporate more online events, conversations and discussions, or presentations outdoors on the beach.

“Audiences have indicated their comfort in doing things outdoors as something they might do sooner rather than huddling inside,” he said.

Helga Davis, the 2019 winner of the Greenfield Prize, which is administered by the Hermitage, and curator Eric Booth, one of the curatorial council members, recently spent time on site “to tell us what’s working and how to best exercise these practices,” Sandberg said.

Residencies resume this week with the annual visit of Florida arts educators selected through the State Teacher/Artist Residency program. “They are sort of the beginning of our new season,” Sandberg said.

The Hermitage Curatorial Council, made up of 14 distinguished arts leaders from across the country, is compiling updated lists of people they recommend for residencies. Artists do not apply for stays at the Hermitage.

Among the council artists are Booth, a leader in arts education in the nation; Valerie Cassel Oliver [pictured], the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; flutist Claire Chase; Christopher Burney, artistic director of New York Stage and Film at Vassar; Emily Mann, the playwright and director who recently ended a long tenure as artistic director of the McCarter Theatre Centre in Princeton, N.J.; and Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

“They shape everything we do here” by selecting new lists of fellows, said Sandberg. “They are experts in their field and they have a commitment to identifying artists who are creating bold, dynamic and diverse work.”

The Hermitage has increased its budget to more than $1 million annually (from about $750,000), and the organization received some significant contributions toward meeting that goal, including $300,000 through a couple of matching gift challenges.

That money helped to make up some of the revenue the organization lost from the cancellation of its annual Greenfield Prize weekend dinner and related events in the spring. It has announced that its yearly Artful Lobster picnic will be held Nov. 14 on the Hermitage grounds, and the next Greenfield Prize Dinner is scheduled for April 11 at Michael’s On East.

Sandberg said the budget was increased because the Hermitage plans to expand its programming staff while providing more opportunities for collaborations with area arts organizations and for the public to meet visiting fellows and better understand how the organization works.

One of those new collaborations was announced last week. “UNSCRIPTED: Arts from the Inside Out,” a partnership with the Van Wezel Foundation, will give audiences an inside look at the creative process as shared by Hermitage fellows from around the world.

Sandberg said the audience will never know “exactly what to expect or what they will experience, creating a sense of mystery and anticipation for each gathering.”

The series is expected to begin this summer with initial programs offered as a bonus to Hermitage and Foundation supporters. Some performances will be made available for streaming online to the public.

Hermitage featured in WEDU Arts Plus season premiere

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is featured in WEDU’s season nine premiere of “Arts Plus.” Click here to watch the episode – we’re the first segment.

Interviews include artistic director/CEO Andy Sandberg, co-founder/program director Patricia Caswell, and artists-in residence Claire Chase, Christopher Merrill, and Sid Richardson.

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.

Leslie Dignam Edwards appointed board president

Bruce Rodgers, the executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, recently announced that the organization has appointed Leslie Dignam Edwards as the new president of its board of trustees. It has also elected four board members to a three-year term: Ellen Berman, Robyn Citrin, Carole Crosby, and Peggy Hunt.

Leslie was born and raised in Englewood. She was appointed vice president of the Hermitage’s board of trustees and moved into the position of president upon the death of co-founder Syd Adler in 2004. Leslie is a real estate broker and president of Key Realty, Inc., a firm her grandfather started in 1952. She serves on the board of Kids Needs of Greater Englewood and is an honorary board member of the Suncoast Humane Society, where she has been a key player in implementing a $10 million capital campaign.

“Leslie led the organization through a critical period in its nascent years as it sought to recover from the loss of its co-founder, Syd Adler,” says Bruce Rodgers, executive director. “She created the Artful Lobster fundraising event, which has become one of the Hermitage’s signature events. And now she returns to the board at yet another transitional moment, as the Hermitage undergoes a planned change in executive directors,” says Rodgers, referring to the fact that he’s retiring at the end of December.

Leslie says she’s looking forward to the next chapter of the Hermitage. “Bruce has been a dynamic leader for nearly 15 years,” she says. “We’re all sorry to see him go—and thrilled to see him continue his artistic journey.” As to the artistic journey of the Hermitage? “I’m looking forward to what comes next,” says Edwards. “Bruce worked hard to make our future a bright one. He achieved great things during his time at the Hermitage. Our next director will build on that legacy and carry it forward. Our next chapter is about to begin—and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

The Hermitage Artist Retreat’s board of trustees includes Leslie Edwards, president; Steve Adler, vice president; David B. Green, vice president; Larry Bold, treasurer; Michéle Des Verney Redwine, secretary; and Ellen Berman, Susan Brainerd, Robyn Citrin, Carole Crosby, Marletta Darnall, Peggy Hunt, Laura Kaminsky, R. Andrew (Andy) Maass, Joy P. Norwood, Charlotte Perret, Karen Solem, and Nelda Thompson.

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

Welcome Linda Mansperger

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and its Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has added a Development Director to its staff. Beginning Monday, June 10, 2013, Linda Mansperger will be the first to hold this newly created position.

The Hermitage welcomes its first development director, Linda Mansperger

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and its Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has added a Development Director to its staff. Beginning Monday, June 10, 2013, Linda Mansperger will be the first to hold this newly created position.

In this capacity, Mansperger will assist in all aspects of fund raising for the organization, including grant writing and reporting, special events and donor relations. “Since it officially began bringing in artists in 2005, the Hermitage Artist Retreat has been growing by leaps and bounds,” explained Board President Larry Bold. “Our local, state and national impact has gone beyond what any of us could have anticipated, with more on the horizon. With that in mind, the board is pleased to add Linda Mansperger as our first Development Director. Her experience in not-for-profit is extensive and we know she will be a great addition to our staff.”

Linda Mansperger has had only two consecutive positions in her 37-year career. From 1976 to 1985, she was the Assistant Director of the Historical Museum of Southern Florida in Miami. In 1985 she moved to Sarasota and was hired as the Executive Director/CEO of Gulf Coast Heritage Association, Inc., more commonly known as Historic Spanish Point. She held that position through February, 2013. Over the years, Mansperger has been a successful grant writer and reviewer, fundraiser, published author, public speaker and collaborator.

Linda is joining us at the perfect time. The Hermitage is poised to continue its growth and impact. To go to the next level we also needed to grow our professional staff . Linda will be a terrific addition to the team and we welcome her and her invaluable experience as we strive to reach all of our objectives.

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!

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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.