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!

******

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.

Tony-award winning theater director Oskar Eustis discusses his film “Theater of War”

In partnership with New College, the Asolo Repertory Theatre, and The Gulf Coast Foundation, the Hermitage presents a screening of “The Theater of War,” a documentary about the making of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, as produced by NYC’s Public Theater in Central Park. Oskar Eustis, Tony-award winning artistic director for NYC’s Public Theater, will be at the screening to talk about the making of the play, and enter dialogue with the audience.

In partnership with New College, the Asolo Repertory Theatre, and The Gulf Coast Foundation, the Hermitage presents a screening of “The Theater of War,” a documentary about the making of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, as produced by NYC’s Public Theater in Central Park. Oskar Eustis, Tony-award winning artistic director for NYC’s Public Theater, will be at the screening to talk about the making of the play, and enter dialogue with the audience.

Event date: Sunday, March 27 at 1:00 pm

Price: FREE, but reservations are required. Seating is limited. Call the Asolo Theatre reservation line 941-351-9010 x 4710.

Location: The Sainer Pavilion at New College, 5313 Bay Shore Road Sarasota, Florida 34243

Romulus Linney – Losing One Of Our Own

Playwright Romulus Linney passed away yesterday. Like Tennessee Williams, he too was a writer’s writer. Romulus wrote every day. And for 42 of those days he wrote at the Hermitage. One of the plays he worked on while with us was Love Drunk, mentioned in today’s New York Times obituary to which we have a link below.

Romulus Linney listens to playwright Dennis Green read from his work in the Hermitage House

When playwright Tennessee Williams died at age 71 in 1983 reporter Mike Wallace delivered a most moving tribute to him in a radio eulogy. In this essay, Wallace described a writer (Williams) whose greatest gifts had long ago been exhausted but in spite of all that had happened to him, in spite of repeated public failure and public rejection, he described a writer who got up every morning, and wrote. Every morning. He was a writer’s writer. Writing wasn’t what Tennessee Williams did, it was who he was.

Playwright Romulus Linney died yesterday. Like Tennessee Williams, he too was a writer’s writer. Romulus wrote every day. And for 42 of those days he wrote at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. One of the plays he worked on while with us was Love Drunk, mentioned in today’s New York Times obituary to which we have a link below.

In the spring of 1990, Romulus Linney gave me one of my seminal theatrical experiences – one of the three or four experiences in the theatre, which I will never forget. It was at the Humana Festival of New Plays, produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, KY. The play was simply named “2.” It was the story of Hermann Goering, Hitler’s number 2 man, and it was set during the Nuremburg Trials. Florida Studio Theater subsequently produced the play in 1997.

My experience seeing “2” was transformational – I had never seen a play affect an audience, and felt a play affect me in quite the same way. At the end of the play, the audience finds itself in a very different place, from the place it expected to be. The play transforms from an artifact of history – the tale of what happened to a certain (monstrous) person at a certain time in history, to a visceral connection between the audience and the monster we have seen on stage. And the connection is made in a stunning, theatrical moment at play’s end. Breathtaking. When I asked him about the play during his Hermitage residency, he gave the credit to his Louisville actor, William Duff-Griffin. He said something like “When you have someone like Bill Griffin in the role, you just get out of the way.”

Generosity of spirit was characteristic of this southern gentleman. He was a committed believer in artist communities, and a former board member of Yaddo, where he often went to write. “Artist communities, writer’s colonies, save lives,” he told more than one Sarasota County audience, “they saved mine.” At a low point in his young career, he went to Yaddo, an artist community in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he found the encouragement of fellow writers restored his confidence and resolve. It fed him what he needed to go on. So he did.

Romulus was an unpretentious man with unlimited intellectual gifts, and down-to-earth tastes. He loved diner food. While at the Hermitage, he was a regular at the Hungry Hound Café, a hole-in-the-wall hidden in a strip mall in Englewood, Fl. As far as I know, once he found it, he took every evening meal there. He took everyone else he could get to go with him, too. When he left the Hermitage for the last time, we gave him a Hungry Hound T-shirt.

The generosity, which defined Romulus at the Hermitage, was most evident with how he interacted with some of the younger artists who shared their time with him. Both composers and painters sat at his feet, anxiously seeking his opinion and advice, which he gave honestly but with care.

When asked about his creative process, we would say with the twinge of a southern lilt, “I tell my subconscious that I plan to be at my desk at 8am, and I invite it to meet me there.”

As his New York Times obituary observes, Romulus never achieved the household recognition of a Neil Simon or a David Mamet. His one Broadway play closed in five days. But he was universally admired by his peers for his craftsmanship, scholarship, and his prodigious ability to mine the deep humanity of his characters. He loved history and used it often to write about his time.

“When this is all over, my writing will add up to the sum total of me,” he said in an interview quoted in the Times. “The choices I make with my writing have a lot to do with myself as an unfolding personality, so that in the end your writing is really your destiny. It’s a question of finding that central thing that’s yours to say and yours alone.”

Like Tennessee Williams, writing wasn’t what he did, it was who he was. He was a talent of our time, and his loss is shared by us all.

The full New York Times obituary can be found at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/arts/16linney.html?ref=arts

Hermitage Artist Shows in New Jersey

We are proud that Hermitage Fellow Barbara Ellmann, an artist who worked at the Hermitage in Encaustics (pigment infused wax) has opened a show featuring work she completed during her Hermitage residency.

We are proud that Hermitage Fellow Barbara Ellmann, an artist who worked this past year at the Hermitage has opened an exhibition featuring work she completed during her Hermitage residency. Entitled “WHAT I SAW: Paintings from the Hermitage, Gulf Coast, Florida” the show opened on November 12, and will continue to December 18th in the Tomasulo Gallery in the MacKay Library of the Cranford campus of Union County College, New Jersey.

Read all about the exhibition in New Jersey Today

Ringling Museum/Hermitage Partnership

The Hermitage is proud of a new partnership with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. This extensive agreement will bring Hermitage artists to the grounds of the Museum as resident artists staying in the newly restored Ringling Cottage new the Ca d’ Zan mansion. The residency will be known as the Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Hermitage Residency at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce a partnership with The John and
Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which will establish a residency for a Hermitage Fellow
on the museum grounds. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Hermitage Residency at
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is named to commemorate the Gulf Coast
Community Foundation’s financial support in the renovation of the Ringling Cottage
wherein the residency will be housed. As with all Hermitage Fellows, the artist or artists
will have up to six weeks time to work in this prestigious location. Also, as with all
Hermitage Fellows, the artist(s) will present two community “give-back” programs.
“When The Ringling Museum contacted us about this possibility, we were very
excited,” remarked Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers. “Our campus on Manasota Key
has five buildings and about the same number of work spaces. This gives us the
opportunity to expand our live/work space without any capital investment. It also allows
us to accommodate another world-class artist who we will be able to share with the
community.”

Unlike the artists invited to the Manasota campus that may or may not be working
on a specific project, it is expected that the Gulf Coast Community
Foundation/Hermitage Residency at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art will
be offered to artists working on projects that can benefit by living and working on the
Museum grounds. Those projects might be directly related to Ringling collections,
exhibitions, and programs, or there may be a tangential connection as to studies in
history, social sciences, architecture, etc. There are many reasons to be inspired by the
setting of The Ringling Museum campus.

“This is a remarkable situation between three organizations that collectively
understand the important contribution that art makes to our lives,” commented Dwight
Currie, Interim Deputy Director of Collections, Exhibitions and Programs for The
Ringling Museum. “While it is our mission to preserve and enhance an appreciation of
art, we are not often actively involved in its creation. The new partnership with the
Hermitage affords us that role. And it goes without saying how much we appreciate the
generous support of our donors and organizations like the Gulf Coast Community
Foundation who make it possible for us to provide our services to the community. The
Museum is proud to join these two outstanding organizations in creating this
opportunity.”

The first Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Hermitage Resident will be the
writer Steve Kuusisto. Kuusisto is a past Hermitage Fellow. He is a writer who writes
about experiencing life as someone with a disability; he has been blind since birth.
During his residency from January 17 to February 27, 2011, he will be adding to his ongoing
research into the relationship between the circus and people with disabilities. As
part of the residency program, the public is invited to attend a presentation to be given by
Kuusisto on Saturday, February 19, 2011 in the Circus Museum.

“The museum and all of its resources are very unique assets which we can now
offer to our renowned group of artists,” Rodgers continued. “Our selection committee has
been charged with submitting names of artists who will benefit from this type of
experience, which will be quite different from being on the Manasota Key campus. We
are very excited to be adding this unique artistic experience to our program.”

Executive Director on RIAF Panel

t was great fun to sit on a panel with four really smart people talking about art and its making. Many common themes criss-crossed among the many different points of view and experiences the panel brought to the program. The discussion took place in the Historic Asolo Theatre on the campus of the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota.

Photo: Jay Handelman
It was great fun to sit on a panel with four really smart people talking about art and its making. Many common themes criss-crossed among the many different points of view and experiences the panel brought to the program. The discussion took place in the Historic Asolo Theatre on the campus of the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota. The museum is in the middle of the Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF) this weekend with over 100 international artists in theater, dance, music as well as performances in strange and wonderful combinations of those disciplines. The Festival is produced in collaboration with the Baryshnikov Center in New York City who curates the programming with the Museum. Congratulations to the Ringling Museum for creating this wonderful festival – yet another reason why Sarasota is such a great place to live, work, and visit.

By the way, in this picture did you notice how everyone is looking one direction and and I’m looking the other? For some reason this is not unusual for me. I can’t explain it. Thanks to Jay Handelman, critic for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, for the picture. I stole if from his blog about the event which can be read at: Handelman Blog