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Theater Icon Oskar Eustis to Speak at Greenfield Prize Celebration 2011

Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for the next Greenfield Prize Celebration will be Oskar Eustis, Tony Award-winning artistic director of The Public Theater, NYC.



Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for the next Greenfield Prize Celebration will be Oskar Eustis, Tony Award-winning artistic director of The Public Theater, NYC. This year’s presentation of the $30,000 Greenfield Prize will be in drama and be awarded to an American playwright on Sunday, March 27, at 6:00 pm at Michael’s on East, Sarasota, FL. It has become the tradition of the Greenfield Prize Celebration that a major national arts figure give the keynote address at the event. Past speakers have been Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang and renowned American painter James Rosenquist.

“I can’t think of a better person to represent the field of drama than Oskar Eustis,” commented Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of Hermitage Artist Retreat, which administers the prize. “Throughout his impressive career, Oskar has worked at some of the most respected regional theaters with some of the best playwrights and actors in the business. He has also been dedicated to the development of new plays as both a director and a producer. He was on our inaugural jury for the first Greenfield Prize in drama, given to Craig Lucas. The work premiered in 2010 at the Asolo Rep. Having accomplished artists such as Oskar Eustis involved with the Greenfield Prize and the Hermitage Artist Retreat is what helps us gain national respect and recognition for what we do. We couldn’t be more pleased to have Oskar back with us when we present the second Greenfield Prize in drama.”

Oskar Eustis has worked as a director, dramaturg, and artistic director for theaters around the country. From 1981 through 1986 he was resident director and dramaturg at the Eureka Theatre Company in San Francisco, and Artistic Director until 1989, when he moved to the L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum as Associate Artistic Director until 1994. Mr. Eustis then served as Artistic Director at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, for 11 years. In 2005 he took the helm at New York’s Public Theater. Among the most famous of his produced works was the commission and world premieres of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches (Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director) and Angels in America, Part II: Perestroika. In 2009, Oskar Eustis was the lead producer on the Tony award-winning revival of Hair on Broadway.

According to Eustis, “The Greenfield Prize has, in a very short time, established itself as an important badge of excellence in the American arts. I am honored to speak at the 2011 award celebration, and delighted to participate in supporting the vision and courage of American artists.”

For more information on the Greenfield Prize or to place your reservation for the March 27th event, visit the website at www.greenfieldprize.org.

Thank You from a Grateful Artful Lobster

While we’re not through balancing the books on the Artful Lobster, it’s clear that many thousands of dollars were raised that will allow us to continue supporting world-class, mid-career writers, painters, poets, playwrights, and other primary creators.

Mother Nature set the quality standard; the temperate Gulf breezes, the azure water, miles of pristine beach, and wheeling gulls and osprey fishing for their meal. Michael’s on East stepped up with mounds of delicious lobster, ribs, chicken, chowder, corn and all the trimmings. Hermitage artists Christopher Still, Andrew McKenna Lee, Robert Blake and Fellows Sabrina Small and Meg Pierce shared their work and made it clear why they were Hermitage artists. Scott Blum and Los Rumberos provided just the right music, MC and auctioneer Cliff Roless kept the program rolling, and event chair Debbi Benedict and her committee had it all well organized. None of these events happen without a team of volunteers and our Friends of the Hermitage led by Connie Ellis are the very best. The Lemon Bay Garden Club came out before the event to help us spruce up out campus. And our media sponsors, Sarasota Magazine and Scene Magazine helped make sure that everyone knew about it in the first place. We thank them as well.

In the end, the event was a great success. While we’re not through balancing the books on the Artful Lobster, it’s clear that many thousands of dollars were raised that will allow us to continue supporting world-class, mid-career writers, painters, poets, playwrights, and other primary creators, and then sharing them with our Gulf Coast communities in free programs for children, adults, and seniors. These funds will also help us preserve these magnificent historic buildings and protect the native ecology that we all love and enjoy so much.

The support we enjoy for our work is humbling, and it inspires us to make certain the investment in the Hermitage Artist Retreat made by individuals, foundations, corporations, and County and national government is leveraged and returned to the community in the unique benefits only we can provide.

Thank you.

Honoree Lesley Edwards and her mother, Annette Dignam Photo by Cliff Roles, courtesy of Scene Magazine


Event Chair Debbi Benedict with Hermitage President Caroline Andrus
Photo by Cliff Roles, courtesy of Scene Magazine

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

Greenfield Prize winner Sanford Biggers from Brazil to Switzerland

If you are in NYC, see Sanford’s art at the Rubin Museum of Art in Grains of Emptiness: Buddhism-Inspired Contemporary Art.

After two months of filming a new project in Salvador da Bahia, Greenfield Prize winner Sanford Biggers went to Lucern, Switzerland to install Creation/Dissipation at the Kunstmuseum Luzern. Soon after, he had the honor of presenting the keynote speech/performance at the 5th Annual Buddhist Film Festival.

Tom Sleigh at Historic Asolo on Thursday

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in partnership with the Historic Asolo Theater of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art are bringing you the chance to meet an extraordinary American poet and writer. Tom Sleigh will read from his work and talk about his incredible life as a writer at the Historic Asolo on Thursday, November 11 at 7:30 pm.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in partnership with the Historic Asolo Theater of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art are bringing you the chance to meet an extraordinary American poet and writer. Tom Sleigh will read from his work and talk about his incredible life as a writer at the Historic Asolo on Thursday, November 11 at 7:30 pm. Call the Historic Asolo Theater at 941.360.7399 for reservations.

Tom wrote us this note about his life:
You could say that my life has resembled a double feature, plus the newsreel.

When I was a kid, the first feature was of me going to the movies every night because my parents owned a drive-in movie theater out in east Texas, red clay and piney woods country. My mother worked the snackbar, my father the projector. That was my first experience of poetry: enormous shadows on a screen, voices coming from the grille of the metal speaker like voices from other worlds.

The second feature was about a man who travelled to some of those worlds—like San Cristobal de Las Casas in southern Mexico, where I worked with the anthropologist and photographer, Gertrude Blom. At Na Balom—which means in Mayan the House of the Jaguar—I worked with the Lacandon Indians, the tribe most like the ancient Maya. And let’s not forget the newsreel: in the last few years, I’ve been to Lebanon and Syria, as well as to Kenya, where I’ve seen the lives of Palestinian and Somali refugees up close.

Throughout both features and “the newsy” as we used to call it, I’ve tried to write as closely to the bone as I could: Marilyn Monroe getting a massage, the greenish haze of teargas, cats lounging on tanks, a Somali poet singing a song for me. And more ordinary moments: the experience of finding my father’s Army records when he went to flight school, the way my mother’s dog looks at her sometimes, the sound of kids yelling their heads off as they splash naked in a pond.

Tom is the author of more than half a dozen volumes of poetry. Space Walk (2007) won the 2008 Kingsley Tufts Award, a prize worth $100,000, and earned Sleigh considerable critical acclaim. Referring to this collection, poet Philip Levine noted, “Sleigh’s reviewers use words such as ‘adept,’ ‘elegant,’ and ‘classical.’ Reading his new book, I find all those terms beside the point, even though not one is inaccurate. I am struck by the human dramas that are enacted in these poems, the deep encounters that often shatter the participants and occasionally restore them. What delights me most is seeing a poet of his accomplishments and his large and well-earned reputation suddenly veer into a new arena of both our daily and our mythical lives. For the writer, such daring may be its own reward; for the reader, it is thrilling to overhear a writer pushing into greatness.” Sleigh has also received the Shelley Award from the Poetry Society of America, an Individual Writer’s Award from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, a Guggenheim grant, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and an Academy Award from the Academy of American Poets.

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.”

Justice Served for Playwright

Catherine Filloux: Seeking justice, she finds it.

Playwright Catherine Filloux seeks justice in her plays while she deeply explores distress and ugliness in her literary realm of human rights and female genocide. As deeply as she sees and feels those horrors, she saw and felt the beauty of the Hermitage Artist Retreat. While at the Hermitage, it was clear in her eyes, her voice, and her whole expression, that she emotionally absorbs nature’s contrasting serenity and marvel, just as fully as she takes in the cruelty of the lifescapes of Cambodia and Bosnia.

“Justice” is Catherine losing herself in a well-deserved beach run, a luxurious swim, and a breathtaking sunset.

Catherine Filloux at her beach reading
The Sunset after Catherine's beach reading

Photos by Kathye Faries

The Privilege of our Work

We at the Hermitage are blessed to have this work. Not only do we have what may be the best offices in Florida – at least if you’re a beach person, but we get to spend time with the smartest, most talented people on the planet. We get to chat with them about their work, we get to have dinner or go out for a drink with them, and sometimes, like today, we get to see them in rehearsal.

Eve Beglarian in rehearsalWe at the Hermitage are blessed to have this work. Not only do we have what may be the best offices in Florida – at least if you’re a beach person, but we get to spend time with the smartest, most talented people on the planet. We get to chat with them about their work, we get to have dinner or go out for a drink with them, and sometimes, like today, we get to see them in rehearsal.

Composer Eve Beglarian has been with us this past week. Eve won the 2009 Greenfield Prize in Music which resulted in a $30,000 commission for a new work, a Hermitage residency, and a partnership with a regional arts organization to help develop the work. In this case, Eve is working with the Sarasota Orchestra. Today we got to attend some of her rehearsal with her musicians. While at the Hermitage last week, she composed a new piece that she got to try today.

Last year Eve had an adventure. She decided to paddle a red kayak from the headwaters of the Mississippi River, to New Orleans. Occasionally artists have to do these kinds of things – it’s “filling the well.” The New York Times wrote a wonderful story of her trip. And now she’s writing music influenced by music she heard, people she spoke with, and sounds she encountered paddling and camping her way down the river.

Today we got to hear her rehearse some of it, and talk about it. What a treat. And what a treat the Sarasota audience is in for on March 26th when the Sarasota Orchestra premieres the piece, one of two works that will be the result of the Greenfield Prize commission. Then, on March 26th, it will be your privilege to meet Eve, to discover for yourself what an exceptional human being and inspired composer and musician she is. And you will join with us in thanking Bob and Louise Greenfield and the Greenfield Foundation for the gift of the Greenfield Prize which has brought us Eve and which will continue to bring extraordinary people and the work they create to our community.

Sarasota Friends – Have a sailboat?

The Hermitage is looking for a Sarasota-based sailor to offer sailboat rides to artists. From a sunfish to a 64 footer, if you’ve got one, let’s talk. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with a Hermitage Artist.

While artists and writers are in residence at the Hermitage, we want to let them experience all that Florida has to offer. Many times these side trips turn into scenes in a book, or steps in a dance. If you are willing to offer sailboat rides, please let us know. We have several powerboat volunteers, but no sailboats. This week, we have a special request for a sail. If you can help, please call 475-2098 to make the arrangements. If you can’t do it by Sunday, talk to us anyway. This particular artist will return in March, and there may be similar requests by others.

Sanford Biggers’ Billboard

Sanford Biggers, winner of the 2010 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, was commissioned for this billboard currently up on La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles. What do you think?

Sanford Biggers, winner of the 2010 Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, was commissioned for this billboard currently up on La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles. What do you think?