Hermitage appoints development director

Bruce Rodgers, the executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, recently announced that the organization has welcomed Sara Krusenstjerna as its new development director. He notes that Krusenstjerna “brings extensive, executive-level experience in all areas of development.” In her new role, Krusenstjerna will oversee all aspects of the Hermitage’s development operation, including fundraising initiatives, corporate and foundation relations, community outreach, major gifts, and planned giving.

Krusenstjerna served as director of philanthropic planning for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra where she was responsible for developing the legacy giving program and fostering partnerships with regional estate planning professionals. Before the BSO, Krusenstjerna worked for 10 years in academic fundraising: She was director of development at the University of Arizona, and vice president of philanthropy at New College Foundation in Sarasota. In the Sarasota region, Krusenstjerna also served as a consultant with numerous social services and arts organizations, including the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County Arts Council, Asolo Rep, Coastal Behavioral Healthcare, and Child Protection Center. Before that, she was executive director of Young Audiences of Rochester, then the largest arts learning organization in upstate New York. Krusenstjerna holds a BA in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester, and a JD from Columbia University School of Law. She also pursued post-graduate research in sociology at the University of Edinburgh as a Rotary scholar.

“I am delighted to return to Sarasota and deeply honored to join the Hermitage staff,” says Krusenstjerna. “I look forward to working with colleagues, friends and community partners on behalf of this extraordinary organization. What a wonderful homecoming!”

Kaminsky’s opera reaches #3 on Billboard list

Congratulations to composer Laura Kaminsky, a Hermitage Fellow and board member! Since its premiere in 2014 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, her acclaimed “As One” has not only become the most-produced modern opera in America, but it’s also risen to #3 on the Billboard Classical list. Operawire calls it “one of the major works of American opera in the 21st century.” Brava!

We also want to be sure to recognize Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed as co-librettists and creative partners with Laura in the creation of this work. The three of them make one powerhouse team that is changing the nature of opera in our time.

Artful Lobster Nov. 9

The highly popular Artful Lobster is our signature fundraising event, and the only one to take place on our Manasota Key Gulf-front campus. With luscious lobster, a complete gourmet buffet, live entertainment by Hermitage artists, and an anticipated auction, the Artful Lobster kicks off the season for many in our community.

NEW THIS YEAR – There will be an air conditioned trolley bringing Artful Lobster attendees to the Hermitage from Sarasota.

Learn more here.

Co-chaired by Susan Brainerd and Susan McLeod, all proceeds go toward the Hermitage mission: inspiring the artists of our time.  

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

Felix de la Concha exhibit in the Palm House

On exhibit in the Hermitage Palm House is “Hermitage Artist Intrigue,” a collection of twelve oil-on-linen paintings by Spanish painter Felix de la Concha, who was a resident Fellow in 2015. The paintings are of the historic Hermitage structures.

“I became absorbed by my surroundings at the Hermitage,” says de la Concha. “My creativity was fueled by the natural beauty and serenity of the Hermitage grounds – the ‘old Florida’ structures, the trees, the water and the waves.”

These paintings are a gift of the artist and of Alfstad& Editions. The paintings can be viewed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, and during all Palm House public programs.

Bruce Rodgers to retire in December

Debbi Benedict, president of the Hermitage Artist Retreat’s board of trustees, announced today the pending retirement of Hermitage founding executive director Bruce E. Rodgers as of December 31, 2019.  Rodgers served on the original steering committee organized by the Sarasota County Arts Council and co-founders Patricia Caswell and Syd Adler to restore and adapt the five historic buildings into an artist community.  After the organization received its not-for-profit status in 2002, Rodgers became a founding trustee. He stepped down from the board to become the acting director in 2004 and was appointed the first Hermitage executive director in 2005.

“Since our beginning, Bruce has been our guiding light and a remarkable visionary, taking the Hermitage further than we could imagine,” said Benedict. “Our entire board, past and present, wish him great happiness in his retirement and thank him for leading us on this incredible journey.”

As the founding director, Rodgers set the operating policies and procedures for the organization and grew its annual operating budget from $80,000 to its current $700,000-plus level. He oversaw the completion of the historic campus restoration that was begun by the Sarasota County Arts Council; established the first endowment program; and created many local, regional, and national partnerships. In 2008, in partnership with Bob Greenfield, then president of the Greenfield Foundation, Rodgers created the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat—a $30,000 prize in the form of a commission for a new work—which raised the organization’s profile to national status.

In addition to his many achievements as executive director, Rodgers has given back to the local community and to the field of artist communities. He served on the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County’s board of directors; Sarasota Film Commission Community Advisory Board; on panels for the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs; and nationally, for 10 years, on the board of the Alliance of Artists Communities.

“In 2004, I was given both the honor and challenge of leading this new kind of cultural organization in our community—an organization that serves writers, painters, poets, composers, playwrights, and visual artists who are creating the art of our time,” says Rodgers. “This challenge could only have been met with the steadfast partnership of our dedicated trustees, our staff, our National Curatorial Council, our volunteers, and our community.  With the solid platform we have established, it’s a perfect time to pass the leadership to the next generation who will continue to use this platform to dream and to create future possibilities for the Hermitage. The blessing of this position has been the incredible talented and generous people I’ve had the privilege to work with and to know.  They are my friends, and I will always keep them in my heart.” 

A search committee, chaired by Englewood businessman David Dignam of Key Agency and comprised of both trustees and community members, has been formed to oversee the national search for the next leader to build on the foundation that has been created.  An email address has been established for interested candidates to send their resume along with a cover letter for the executive director role to HermitageEDSearch@gmail.com.

Hermitage launches search for executive director

The trustees of the Hermitage Artist Retreat seek an executive director to lead the organization into its future. Founded in 2002 as a project of the Sarasota County Arts Council, the Hermitage has grown to become a significant national artist community serving mid-career artists in all disciplines.  The mission of the Hermitage Artist Retreat is to “inspire the artists of today” and it expresses its values of excellence, access, and exemplary service to both artists and community at every opportunity.

The successful candidate will have a significant and effective history of broad engagement in the arts community, a passion for the arts and artists, and a proven track record of inspiring philanthropy with superior interpersonal and speaking skills. Work experience in an artist community is a plus but not a necessity. As a visionary leader of a small staff, he or she should enthusiastically enjoy “doing what it takes” to reinforce the Hermitage brand and experience on an everyday basis.

For complete details about the position, its requirements, and application information, click here.

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.

Works by Regina Scully on display through December

Small paintings and works on paper by New Orleans visual artist Regina Scully are on view in the Hermitage Palm House from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, through December. Admission is free.

Regina lives and paints in the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the recipient of the 2017 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant Award. Scully’s artwork is showcased in a host of private and public collections, including the Microsoft Art Collection, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation Collection, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.