Laura Kaminsky – Meet Our Board

The Hermitage is thrilled to welcome Laura Kaminsky, Artistic Director of Symphony Space in New York City and an accomplished and award-winning composer, to our Board of Trustees. Laura is the first Hermitage Fellow to serve on our Board. “No one can better represent the insider’s point of view – that of the Hermitage fellow – than someone who has that title. And no one can represent the national point of view from outside this community better than someone living in a distant cultural center. As a Hermitage fellow in music, living in New York City, Laura meets both those qualifications,” said Executive Director Bruce Rodgers.

The Hermitage is thrilled to welcome Laura Kaminsky, Artistic Director of Symphony Space in New York City and an accomplished and award-winning composer, to our Board of Trustees. Laura is the first Hermitage Fellow to serve on our Board. “No one can better represent the insider’s point of view – that of the Hermitage fellow – than someone who has that title. And no one can represent the national point of view from outside this community better than someone living in a distant cultural center. As a Hermitage fellow in music, living in New York City, Laura meets both those qualifications,” said Executive Director Bruce Rodgers.

It took less than a minute for the Hermitage to cast a spell on Kaminsky, who came for her first residency with her partner Rebecca Allan, a painter. The two were collaborating on Horizon Lines, a multi-media work. “Driving up the narrow road and seeing the wooden structures and the dunes glowing under the midday sun was confirmation before ever stepping foot on the ground that this was a special place to nurture one’s creativity,” writes Kaminsky. “I could tell that there was going to be the space to be reflective and therefore productive.”

Kaminsky says that the Hermitage meant “everything” to her as an artist. “Time. Quiet. The stimulating conversation among the artist fellows. The closeness to nature. The sound of the waves. The light. All of this created a perfect environment in which to let loose and to reel in, both of which are necessary to making art.”

And she hasn’t wasted any time in making a difference. Inspired by a conversation with Rodgers, Kaminsky conceived the idea for NOVEMBER 21, 1963: THE DAY BEFORE, a multi-media one-night-only performance that will feature contributions from more than 60 Hermitage composers, writers, filmmakers, and visual artists to contribute original work around the theme of life on the eve of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. “Laura’s deep commitment to the Hermitage was obvious from the beginning. The exciting partnership the Hermitage has with Symphony Space, for whom she is artistic director, is an obvious example of this commitment,” said Rodgers.

The performance, taking place at Symphony Space on November 8, 2013, has already attracted tremendous media attention, has sold out and will be a highpoint of the upcoming Hermitage Artist Tour of New York City. “The outpouring of interesting responses to the challenge from the hermitage fellows has been exceptional and I know we have a great evening in store”, said Kaminsky.

As an artist and Fellow, Kaminsky believes she can bring a unique perspective to the Hermitage Board. “Having lived the artist’s life there I hope I can speak directly to the board from the perspective of one who has benefited from a residency in ways that can lead and inspire the board to continue its good work.”

Laura Kaminsky’s works are frequently performed across the U.S. and abroad; Kaminsky has received numerous commissions, fellowships, and awards. She has received four ASCAP- Chamber Music America Awards for Adventuresome. She currently serves as a member of the board of directors of Chamber Music America and has been a board member of the American Music Center and a member of the Artistic Advisory Council of the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is Artistic Director of Symphony Space in New York City. From 2004-2008, she served as dean of the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College/SUNY, where she is currently professor of music and faculty-at-large for the School of the Arts

After 10 Days of Hard Work at the Hermitage, Suddenly, the Play Wrote Itself!

In February 2011, the directors of the theater production company Phantom Limb, Jessica Grindstaff and husband Erik Sanko, came to the Hermitage exhausted after their successful run of 69° South at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Their work has been described as a series of dynamic tableaux vivants, narrative installations in motion that meld theatrical performance, puppetry, photography and film with unconventional original music. 69° South was a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition.

Jessica and Freya at the Hermitage

In February 2011, the directors of the theater production company Phantom Limb, Jessica Grindstaff and husband Erik Sanko, came to the Hermitage exhausted after their successful run of 69° South at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Their work has been described as a series of dynamic tableaux vivants, narrative installations in motion that meld theatrical performance, puppetry, photography and film with unconventional original music. 69° South was a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition.

Three months later at a sunset dinner on the beach to welcome them back for the second part of their residency, they surprised us with a bottle of champagne and an announcement. We had the privilege to be the first to hear their news (even before they told their own parents). Jessica was three months pregnant. Now they are back again with their daughter Freya, a true daughter of the Hermitage, as part of the Hermitage’s new family residency program.

While here for the third time they are writing the second of a trilogy that started with 69° South. The piece, Memory Rings, uses the oldest living tree in the world as the center of its narrative.

“The trilogy is united by the theme of ecology and the human relationship with nature through poetry and image. We are exploring the psychology of a collective future using history, legacy, and cultural memory,” said Erik.

They returned to the Hermitage following a residence at Harvard with global warming expert Dan Schrag, head of the Harvard Center for the Environment. Dr. Schrag had been impressed by their work because it moves people into the topic in a way they aren’t used to. Their plays touch audiences at an emotional level with a refreshing absence of the usual didactic lecturing.

Erik described audience reactions as unconscious at first. Then the slow burn of realization sets in. He and Jessica see attitudes change when they tour places like the Midwest where people are not yet convinced to take action on global warming. “Art has the ability to help people see the long arc of 40 to 80 years it may take to recover from climate change,” he explained.

They each have beautiful studios in New York City but they say their work benefits from the open mindedness and wide horizons that come with a place like the Hermitage where there are no expectations, no obligations, and the only distractions are the sea and nature (which is what their play is about).

Jessica said “After 10 days of hard work on Memory Rings at the Hermitage, suddenly, the play wrote itself!”

69° South

Learn more about PhantomLimbCompany.com

First the Storm then the Shells

Tropical Storm Andrea hit Manasota Key last week, and as named storms go, she was noisy and a bit persistent, but aside from tearing a screen and relocating a couple of deck chairs, Andrea mainly served as nature’s entertainment for our artists in residence.

Tropical Storm Andrea hit Manasota Key last week, and as named storms go, she was noisy and a bit persistent, but aside from tearing a screen and relocating a couple of deck chairs, Andrea mainly served as nature’s entertainment for our artists in residence.

For us, Andrea served another purpose. This is the time of year when our National Advisory Committee chooses the artists they want to invite for a residency. They give us the names and we send the invitations, which the artists aren’t expecting, always with a single, perfect shell from our beach, which they really aren’t expecting.

Part of my job is to scour the beach for those shells. I know, life is tough.

Lately the shells have been scarce, and the perfect ones that fit into our clear round box, even more so. But the day after Andrea hit – Shellapalooza!! Right in front of the Hermitage. At lunch time I threw off my sandals, grabbed my beach pail and hit the beach. Then I got to “work” (Hey it’s an assignment) and started sifting through the layers to find as many perfect shells as I could.

After a few years, I’ve gotten pretty good at sizing up the shells but I bring a sample box with me to make sure they fit. From the looks I get, I can tell my fellow shell seekers think it’s a bit odd that I make my finds pass a test before I toss them in my pail.

I left the beach after, well I’m not sure how long I was there, with about 60 “artist shells” and one extra cool, “I should keep it for myself but I won’t” shell.

Usually I decide where the shells end up since I put the mailing together. In order to make the process more entertaining, I’ll say, choose a more interesting shell to send to a writer in the Midwest because, I figure they don’t get to see that many (until they come here of course). If I notice on an artist’s website that they use a lot of color, I’ll pop them a more colorful shell. And sometimes I just shut my eyes and leave it up to shell destiny.

So, if you’re reading this and you get a shell in the mail in the next, let’s say 2-4 weeks, or if you are a Hermitage Fellow and still have your perfect shell in the box (and I hope you do), now you know how it got there. And if you are on this year’s list of Fellows and your name happens to be Andrea, have I got a shell for you!

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.

September is for R&R (Repair and Renovation) or (Rust and Rot)

Maintaining historic structures in southwestern Florida and mere feet from the Gulf of Mexico is a challenge. Mother Nature wants this property back, and she uses all her tools of wind, rain, salt, and sun to deteriorate man-made structures. To top it off, she sends her best, most powerful storms in to complete the job. Since September/October is the most active part of the hurricane season, September seems to be the very best time to schedule maintenance and repair and to keep artists from far-flung destinations away from Manasota Key.

Pump House Music Studio
Pump House Music Studio

Maintaining historic structures in southwestern Florida and mere feet from the Gulf of Mexico is a challenge. Mother Nature wants this property back, and she uses all her tools of wind, rain, salt, and sun to deteriorate man-made structures. To top it off, she sends her best, most powerful storms in to complete the job. Since September/October is the most active part of the hurricane season, September seems to be the very best time to schedule maintenance and repair and to keep artists from far-flung destinations away from Manasota Key.

In addition to maintenance, September is the time when we look at the feedback from our artists (each resident completes an evaluation including suggested facility improvements) and decide what facility-related projects to undertake that would improve the artist experience.

We are guided in this work by our wonderful volunteer facilities committee chaired by architect Doug Driscoll and including architect Jonathan Parks, contractor Pat Ball, builder Hitch Baer, volunteer and donor Tom Dignam, and trustees Larry Bold and Caroline Andrus.

This year we received a generous grant of $60,000 from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation targeted to repairs and renovations. The priorities this year will be to significantly improve the acoustical separation between the two Whitney studios, repair and paint the Whitney House exterior, install a Gulf-side picture window in the composer’s studio (Pump House), and repair windows in the Hermitage. Thanks to the generosity of the patrons of last year’s Artful Lobster, we raised enough money to start making screens (and they have to be made individually) for the Hermitage House. And thanks to the generosity of our supporter, Margaret Pennington, we will be installing a new air conditioning unit in the upstairs suite in the Hermitage House, and a new outdoor shower as well.

All of this work has had to pass through an approval process including the County Historic Preservation Board, and the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Department. Sarasota County has been and continues to be wonderful partners in this incredible venture that we call the Hermitage Artist Retreat, and we are very grateful for all their cooperation.

We will be reserving this time of year, every year, for challenge of keeping ahead of mother nature. As you can imagine, it’s no easy task. After all she has all the time in the world and we only have 4-6 weeks.

Whitney Front Writer's Studio
Whitney Front Writer's Studio

Meet The Hermitage STARs

The Hermitage Artist Retreat will hold open studios on Friday, August 12 to present the work of its first STAR (State Teachers Artist Residency) artists-in-residence. The event takes place from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on the Retreat campus which is located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. The five STARS will participate in open studios, readings and a musical performance. The event is free and open to the public.



The Hermitage Artist Retreat will hold open studios on Friday, August 12 to present the work of its first STAR (State Teachers Artist Residency) artists-in-residence. The event takes place from 6:00 pm to9:00 pm on the Retreat campus which is located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. The five STARS will participate in open studios, readings and a musical performance. The event is free and open to the public.

This open studio event marks the culmination of our first residencies for Florida arts teachers. When we devised this program, we suspected that with all the demands placed on artists who choose a careerin public education, there is hardly time left over for pursuing their own artistry. We are pleased to be able to offer this gift of time and space and we now know that our inclination was correct. These teachers leave us fulfilled, enthused and excited about what has happened here and what’s to come.

The evening’s schedule is as follows:

6:00-7:15 – Open studios of Andrea Huffman, Broward County and Patricia Cummins, Miami-Dade County

7:15-8:00 – Beach readings by Alan Sincic, Osceola County and Melissa Pranke, Orange County. Musical performance by Tim Ostrow and accompanying musician, Charlotte County

8:09 – Sunset

The Artists Speak:

“My fellowship at the Hermitage has been a most generous gift of time to create and rejuvenate in a spectacular environment. I have been inspired to fill stacks of notebooks with words and stories; but tomy surprise, I have realized my greatest gain from this experience has been a rekindling of respect and passion for myself, as an artist and a teacher. The Hermitage, where creativity and compassion are paramount, is a rare gift and should be protected and cherished.”
– Melissa Pranke, writer, Winter Park High School, Orange County

(Read comments from all of the year’s STAR artists by clicking here)

This is the first group of STARs. Open to all Florida arts teachers, the STAR program is a partnership with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE). Each spring, Florida arts teachers can apply forthe residency through FAAE, which also selects the winners. Five are selected: one in music, two in visual arts and two in creative writing.

We look forward to sharing the work of these artists/educators with you. True they won the competition but another win is for the children of Florida who will now benefit by teachers who have been renewed and valued for their artistic talent. We hope this program grows over time to include more opportunities for educators with a passion and talent for the arts.

The Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE) is a statewide service organization that works to ensure that all Florida students have a complete education that includes the arts. For more information on the application process or the organization, contact Susan Burke, at the Florida Alliance for Arts Education by calling 407-488-9951 or online at www.faae.org.

Hermitage Artists Premiering New Opera at ENO and the Met

One measure of a great artist retreat is the work that gets created there. And having work published, performed, and exhibited around the world certainly represents one of the great joys of working at an artist community.

One measure of a great artist retreat is the work that gets created there. And having work published, performed, and exhibited around the world certainly represents one of the great joys of working at an artist community. The following link connects to an article in Guardian.co.uk about Two Boys, a new opera commissioned by the English National Opera in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The music for Two Boys is composed by Nico Muhly and the libretto is written by Craig Lucas. The talented collaborators were in residence at the Hermitage in the spring of 2010 when they worked on the piece together.

View a 6-minute clip of composer Nico Muhly playing his composition, Skip Town during his interview on the stage of the Historic Asolo Theater in Sarasota, FL.

Award-Winning Writer Joseph Novakovich Presents Free Discussions of Creative Writing

Hermitage writer in residence Josip Novakovich, award-winning writer and creative writing professor will present two literary talks. At each, he will read from his work, as well as speak on creative writing from two different directions.

Hermitage writer in residence Josip Novakovich, award-winning writer and creative writing professor will present two literary talks. At each, he will read from his work, as well as speak on creative writing from two different directions.

The readings and talks will take place on Friday, April 22, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Four Winds Café on the New College Campus and on Saturday, April 23, at Bookstore 1, 1359 Main Street in Sarasota beginning at 6:00 pm. Both events are free and open to the public.

On Friday at New College, Novakovich will speak about writing in English when it is not your first language. A significant fraction of contemporary writing in the United States is done in English by writers whose native language is not English–Ha Jin, Julia Alvarez, Andre Codrescu, Gary Shteyngart, and hundreds of others. He will talk about his own experience, writing in English rather than his native Croatian, and about editing an anthology by linguistic immigrants, and the issues involved in the phenomenon of linguistic migration in literature.

On Saturday, at Bookstore 1, the title of his talk is the DeConstruction of Construction.” Novakovich explains “Some stories grow spontaneously out of an idea or impression or a sentence, and some stories require deliberate architectural planning, to be assembled from ideas, research, and materials from various sources, such as old journals, newspapers, letters, interviews. In addition, to transcend the linear and obvious plot line, one might resort to a variety of permutations of what’s possible, as though playing a chess game. Permutation is the mother of invention.”

Josip Novakovich lived in Croatia until he was twenty. He is the author of the novel April Fool’s Day, which was translated into ten languages, three essay collections, three story collections, and two writing textbooks, including Fiction Writer’s Workshop, a Quality Paperback and Book of the Month Club selection. His work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. A recipient of the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Ingram Merrill Award, and an American Book Award, he has been a writing fellow of the New York Library and of the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas. Novakovich teaches in the creative writing program at Concordia University in Montreal. He has a new collection of essays, The Art
of Coughing, coming out later this year, and he has just completed a satirical novel, Russian Doubles.

“Josip plans to read a story set in the Yugoslav wars in November 1991, during the siege of Vukovar,” added Bruce Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat. “These evening presentations will be of interest not only to students of creative writing and literature, but also to those interested in current and recent history of the Balkans, political science and international relations. These are two opportunities to experience a fascinating evening with a recognized author and scholar.”

Josip Novakovich lived in Croatia until he was twenty. He is the author of the novel April Fool’s Day, which appeared in ten languages, three essay collections, three story collections, and two writing textbooks, such as Fiction Writer’s Workshop, a Quality Paperback and Book of the Month Club selection. His work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. A recipient of the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Ingram Merrill Award, and an American Book Award, he has been a writing fellow of the New York Library and of the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas. Novakovich teaches in the creative writing program at Concordia University in Montreal. He has a new collection of essays, The Art of Coughing, coming out later this year, and he has just completed a satirical novel, Russian Doubles.

The Hermitage is a not-for-profit artist retreat located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. It brings mid-career painters, sculptors, writers, playwrights, poets, composers and other artists from all over the world for extended stays on its 8.5-acre campus. Each artist is asked to contribute two services to the community during their stay. So far, Hermitage artists have touched over 7,500 Gulf Coast community children and adults with their unique and inspiring programs. For more information about the literary workshops and readings, or to learn more about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098 or visit the website at www.HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

One Beautiful Evening – Three Open Studios

It’s no April fools, three incredible artists are in residence at the Hermitage and they’re throwing open the doors of their studios for you to see their work.

Bradley Wester
Bradley Wester in the Hermitage Studio

Bradley Wester
is a New York visual artist working in a hybrid medium that combines painting, sculpture, digital imaging and installation. For the past ten years Wester has worked on a project where he lives and creates in three disparate but geographically symmetrical cultures, ultimately resulting in three connected bodies of work: Rome (West) and Kyoto (East). And at the Hermitage, Wester is completing the third and last body of work; Istanbul, the geographic gateway between East And West. He has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions across the U.S. and in Europe including most recently at Margalef & Gipponi Gallery in Antwerp, Belgium. Awards include: Specialist Fulbright Fellowship to Kyoto, Japan, two MacDowell Fellowships, Pollock-Krasner Grantee, and twice-published in “New American Paintings.” Wester has also designed theater sets for Off-Broadway, television and film.

Laurie Olinder
is a painter and an award-winning theatrical designer based in New York City. She has been commissioned to create multimedia visuals for many composers including John Adams, Philip Glass, David Lang and Julia Worlfe. She is founding member of Ridge Theater and has been recognized with two Obie awards, a Bessie award , and an Eliot Norton Award.

Hobey Ford
is winner of puppetry’s highest honor, the UNIMA Citation of Excellence, and recipient of three Jim Henson Foundation grants. He is known for excellence in puppetry performance and craft. Adapting folk tales from various cultures for many of his performances, he is considered both an innovator in puppetry craft and a master storyteller. Ford uses his own voice to create characters and sound effects, tell stories and sing throughout his performances In conjunction with The Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program, Ford provides teacher workshops in puppetry. 


Date: Friday, April 1, 2011

Time: 6:00 to 8:00 pm

Location: The Beach at the Hermitage Artist Retreat
6660 Manasota Key Rd., Englewood, FL
VIEW MAP

Price: FREE!

Reservations: None Required

Missy Mazzoli Making Music

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in partnership with New College of Florida, invite the public to meet one of America’s most talented composers, Missy Mazzoli, on Wednesday, March 16, 2001, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at the Mildred F. Sainer Art & Music Pavilion in Sarasota. There is no charge for this program.

Missy Mazzoli

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in partnership with New College of Florida, invite the public to meet one of America’s most talented composers, Missy Mazzoli, on Wednesday, March 16, 2001, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at the Mildred F. Sainer Art & Music Pavilion in Sarasota. There is no charge for this program.

Mazzoli will perform “Orizzonte,” an original piece for piano and electronics and will play recordings of her orchestra music “Victoire,” and the opera she is working on at the Hermitage, “Song From The Uproar.” The audience will have the opportunity to dialogue with the award-winning composer as she discusses the many different but related musical projects on which she is working.

“Blithly ignoring boundaries of genre and style, Missy Mazzoli composes music that speaks to a wide and discerning audience. Her musical vision is bold, large and inclusive,” states Stephen Miles, Director of New Music at New College and the moderator for the event.

Mazzoli’s music has been heard throughout the world in performances by many of the leading orchestras. She has been a featured composer at several prominent music venues and was commissioned to create new pieces by such organizations as the Whitney Museum and Carnegie Hall. Mazzoli studied music composition at the Yale School of Music, the Royal Conservatory of the Hague and Boston University. She is a recipient of a Fulbright Grant to the Netherlands and has won the 2007 and 2008 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award and a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is currently the Executive Director of the MATA festival of New Music in New York City, which is dedicated to promoting new works by young composers. An active pianist, Mazzoli performs with her quartet that is dedicated exclusively to her own compositions. According to Bruce E. Rodgers, Hermitage’s Executive Director, “Missy is one of America’s newest music superstars. Her talent is extraordinary as her compositions range from complex symphonies to those that were performed at the Bang-On-A-Can New Music Marathon. The Hermitage is pleased to offer this artist-in-residence a quiet place to compose her newest piece – an opera.”