Sixteen Geniuses in January

During January, sixteen creative geniuses from twelve states and a province continuously awakened us from our conventional ideas.

During January, sixteen creative geniuses from twelve states and a province continuously awakened us from our conventional ideas.

As a boy, novelist and essayist Tony Eprile was forced to flee South Africa with his family to protect his father, a publisher of a black newspaper. His book, The Persistence of Memory recounts a boy’s coming of age during apartheid. When Tony returns in the fall, he’s agreed to join our informal Hermitage book club in conversation about his story. Everyone is welcome. You can contact Sharyn at for information.

River barges, waterwheels and water itself become instruments in the hands of Chinese-American composer Byron Au Yong from Seattle. He is engaged with long-term musical creations that often have to do with the environment and the ecosystem. He is working on a commission to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Fairmount Water Works in Philadelphia using chorus, dancers – and water of course.

Nebraskan Anthony Hawley’s paintings aren’t hanging on a wall. You are turned into a voyeur to peek through a painting to see another painting in a set of four forming a cube. Abstract color and texture meet your view.

Nearly 200 people visited open studios to see the work in progress of Barbara Parmet’s photography, Rebecca Allan’s paintings, and slides of monumental scale, extremely creative participatory artwork by Zoe Strecker. Also participatory is Barbara’s work, which featured several Hermitage volunteers floating underwater modeling for her camera among shafts of wet sunlight.

Wind and grey skies forced the beach reading inside, making for an intimate exchange. The crowds were so fascinated that the artists had to repeat their talks three times each so everyone could squeeze in to hear. Lisa Schlesinger read her essay published in the New York Times about her husband fathering a child for a lesbian couple. Composer Laura Kaminsky showed scenes and told the story of her Opera As One, dealing gracefully and lovingly with the two people inside one transgender body.

Off campus, Sarasota playwrights and Florida Studio Theatre interns were the first to hear Colorado playwright Carter Lewis’ new work. They then got to write for themselves as Carter lead them through a creative writing workshop.

In January the Hermitage is brimming with genius: Writer, and National Artist Advisory Committee member Christopher Merrill from the University of Iowa; Greenfield Prize winner Trenton Doyle Hancock from Houston; writer Jonathan Garfinkel from Montreal; novelist Carin Clevidence from Northampton; composers Patrick Harlin from Seattle and Christine Southworth and Evan Ziporyn from MA and MIT are all in residence this month, creating and shaping their work, at our idyllic and inspiring campus.