by Kim Cool, Venice Gondolier (read full article here)
January 20, 2021
In my 25 years at this newspaper, I have received the equivalent of a few more college degrees, especially in history and the arts.
And as the Gondolier moves toward its 75th anniversary in March, it has been fun to look back at stories I have covered, places I have visited and sadly, even a few that have gone.
At least part of the old Cypress Gardens remains at Legoland, which even replicated its ladies in hoop-skirted gowns but made entirely of Legos. The old Banyan Theatre Company and MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry in Sarasota have both come and gone. While I wasn’t here for its arrival, the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre dropped its curtain for the last time after about 40 years but with the title of longest-running dinner theater in the country.
But nothing has captured my interest as much the creation of the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Manasota Key.
It was created from a collection of buildings on a 3.5-acre site in 2000, when the Sarasota County Arts Council spearheaded the move with other cultural institutions, area residents and county officials who had plans to seek grants from the Venice Foundation (now the Gulf Coast Community Foundation) and the state.
When my first article about the site on Manasota Key appeared … on July 8, 2000, the founders hoped for a 2002 opening and the arrival of their first resident artist.
While the site is not open to daily visitors there are many opportunities throughout the year to visit the site for concerts at the beach, readings in the former garage or other events. Hermitage artists also have gone out into the community to present programs such as the late playwright Romulus Linney (father of actress Laura Linney) who, with Venice Theatre executive producing director Murray Chase, spoke about playwriting and theater some years ago when he was a Hermitage Fellow.
For those of us lucky enough to live in this area, the Hermitage is more proof of the kind of neighbors we have.