The Hermitage Artist Retreat raised more than $225,000 at the 2021 Artful Lobster luncheon on November 13. Now in its thirteenth year, the Artful Lobster raises valuable funds for the Hermitage’s renowned artist residency program and community programming initiatives. Amidst limited capacity and added safety precautions, 200 guests attended the sold-out event, which took place outdoors beneath a large tent on the Hermitage’s historic beachfront campus and was co-chaired by Charlie Huisking and Charlotte Perret, with Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg as master of ceremonies. Michael’s On East served a plentiful barbecue and much-heralded lobster feast.
Dorothy Lawson, a Hermitage Fellow and founding cellist and artistic director of the genre-bending string quartet ETHEL, headlined the event and riveted the audience with her virtuosic cello performance and tales of her time at the Hermitage. She was introduced by popular radio personality Terrance McKnight, evening host of WQXR New York Public Radio and a member of the Hermitage National Curatorial Council. Lawson played an original song from a full-length musical experience that she and her fellow ETHEL musicians created during their Hermitage residency. To celebrate the Hermitage’s free community programs and collaborations, Raleigh Mosely II, a friend of the Hermitage and frequent performer with the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, powerfully delivered an original song written by musical theater composer and Hermitage Fellow Rona Siddiqui. Following lunch, Lawson returned to the stage to perform her interpretation of a piece by Bach, which she dedicated to the memory of the late Susan Brainerd, a recent Hermitage trustee who sponsored Lawson’s last visit to the Hermitage earlier this year.
“When Bach composed his cello suites, nobody was writing that kind of music – it was brand new,” said Terrance McKnight as he introduced Lawson and shared his perspective on the role of the Hermitage. “Legendary artists like Bach composed some of the music we have today because of a benefactor. This is such an important conversation to have today because the work that you all are doing by supporting the Hermitage is inspiring these artists.”
“Great music, great art, great theater, great literature, great television – none of this happens without great artists,” added Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Sandberg. “We are thankful to all who attended or supported this year’s festivities. The generous outpouring of support for the work we are doing at the Hermitage is a demonstration of our community’s extraordinary commitment to the arts and the creative process.”
Sponsors and partners for the 2021 Artful Lobster include Gulf Coast Community Foundation, CHUBB, Key Agency, Herald-Tribune/LOCALiQ, and Sarasota Magazine. A full list of this year’s sponsors, benefactors, and partners can be found at HermitageArtistRetreat.org/ArtfulLobster2021.