Artists of all disciplines are invited to come to the Hermitage to stay and work at our historic campus nestled among the sea grapes and mangroves of Manasota Key.
Writers, composers, and painters connect with artistic passions within while strolling along our shoreline, transforming the time away from normal routines into what most
claim to be their best productive time for creating.
“My Story” by Ellen Dore Watson,
Once darkness fell, I walked out onto the beach as if by gravitational pull. No moon. No
people. Pound and glow of surf. Slightly scary, but energizing. I felt myself opening up, anticipatory.
I don’t think I ever before felt so primed. Back at the house, a new poem
poured out, mysterious and different—a piece I hadn’t realized the manuscript needed.
The first evening of my first stay at the Hermitage. What was it about this place?
The Hermitage is a magic kingdom. The dolphins, mangroves, iguanas, egrets, sharks’
teeth found their way into my work and my psyche. In two weeks, I had intense and
inspiring conversations with four playwrights, a choreographer, a novelist, and a
composer, whose work I will follow and with whom I remain in contact. This amazing
cross-fertilization, and everyone’s single-mindedness about pressing forward, reaching
to new places in their work, was electrifying.
And then there’s the sense of time outside time: permission to read, think, walk,
uninterrupted. I’d been feeling empty, uneasy, stressed about what direction to go with
new pieces and how to re-enter earlier problematic ones. But the perfect balance of
solitariness and fellowship, external and internal immersion, and the fact of having
been invited here—invited!—conspired to produce ease, courage, even joy. When I hit
a snag in a poem, I went kayaking, let my brain stew while I glided, wondering how
those mullets can hurl themselves skyward, and why. But then I thought—that’s what
artists do: thrust themselves out of the familiar, then plop back in to see it anew. We do
what we do because we are who we are, and we are most ourselves when doing it.
I wrote eleven new pieces and re-imagined half a dozen thorny others.
It’s amazing every time. It’s not just driving blind, but finding I’ve taken my hands off
the wheel. Let something seep up from deep underneath—or maybe it’s drizzling down
from somewhere. From outside, from inside. Or just something coming. Forming.
Something we enter, or that enters us. It’s thrilling! Hours fly by, and then here is this
new thing that didn’t exist before, and now I get to play with it—add intention,
discipline, attitude, form—nudge it toward the best it can be. Which is what the
Hermitage does for the artists they gather there: that great a gift.
This is just one story of how a stay at the Hermitage made a difference in the
creative life of an artist, but it is why we are here. We provide a special place where
artists can strive for success, and through their successes, our lives can also be
transformed. The Hermitage Gift for artists – more than 80 last year alone – is only possible
because friends like you make it possible!
Please visit www.hermitageartistretreat.org and click on the Donate Now Button. Or mark your calendar
for the 24-hour Giving Challenge beginning at 12 noon on Tuesday September 20.
The Patterson Foundation will provide a 2:1 match of donations up to $100 from
new donors (those who did not contribute to the Hermitage during last year’s Giving
Challenge), and will provide a 1:1 match of donations up to $100 from returning
The 2016 Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with
giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation, as well as support from Manatee Community
Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, and the
Herald-Tribune Media Group.