Hermitage Artist Retreat 2016

The year 2016 was a year we will never forget. It was a year dominated by the presidential election, which was the topic of conversation for the entire year. But while it was a year when little in the world seemed to be going smoothly, or peacefully, it was a banner year for the Hermitage Artist Retreat. We provided "safe haven" for our artists to leave the national and international discomfort behind, feed off the environment we create for them, and do their work. They made art, and a lot of it. And they shared themselves and their work throughout our community in free programs. Here is a glance back as a reminder of the many wonderful things that shaped our Hermitage year.

Regina Scully works in the new Palm House visual art studio


In calendar year 2016 we hosted 91 separate residencies for a total of 1108 "artist days." (Five artists in residence for one day equals five artist days.) These residencies included 28 visual artists, 23 composers, 17 writers, 11 playwrights, 6 poets, 3 filmmakers, and 2 librettists.

Natasha Trethewey

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey arrived in January to hold the Annette Dignam / State College of Florida Residency in Literature, an annual residency endowed by Tom and David Dignam. Natasha read from her work in a program at the State College of Florida Venice campus.

Natasha (left), SCF and Hermitage staff, and Annette

The Palm House

And we continued to learn about our new building, the Palm House, and how best to use it, including for lectures, parties, and concerts - both upstairs in the Great Room, and in the downstairs "White Box Theater."


In March, the contemporary string quartet ETHEL returned to the Hermitage for another week of creating new material. And at the end of the week, they thrilled us all with another free concert on our beach. These are the evenings we pinch ourselves at our good fortune!

The Greenfield Prize

Every spring brings the Greenfield Prize activities. This year we commissioned visual artist Coco Fusco for a film set in Cuba. Artist Hank Willis Thomas was the keynote speaker at the lovely Greenfield Prize dinner chaired by Beverly Bartner and Renee Hamad.

Coco Fusco with Hermitage Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers and with Keynote speaker Hank Willis Thomas
Coco lecturing at the Ringling Museum, our Producing Partner for the 2016 prize.

Hermitage New York City Reunion

A highlight was our bi-annual reunion in New York City. Hermitage fellow Anne Patterson graciously opened up her Tribeca loft to approximately 70 fellows who renewed Hermitage connections or made new Hermitage friends.


The summer of 2016 saw a major restoration project in the Hermitage House. Under the guidance of our facilities committee including architect Sam Holladay and contractor Pat Ball of Ball Construction, and with generous funding from the Florida Division of Historical Resources as well as individual donors, we were able to:

  • Completely replace the flooring for the entire first floor
  • Paint the entire first floor (Thank you Tom Dignam)
  • Shore-up the fireplace foundation
  • Re-face the fireplace
  • Repaint and re-screen the screened-in porch

Tom Lawton

In 2016 we bid "hello" and "good bye" to our intern, Tom Lawton from the State University of New York at Potsdam. We still miss him!

Family Weeks

Early summer brings artist families to the Hermitage. This special program, in high demand, invites artists to work at the Hermitage along with their families, allowing artists who might not otherwise benefit from a Hermitage residency to come and work along with spouses and children. The Hermitage provides childcare services giving artists work time knowing their families are cared-for. Then non-work time provides opportunities for family time on the beach and interacting with other artists families in residence.

Family Weeks

STAR Program

Blame it on hurricane Charlie. When he swept through Florida just south of the Hermitage in 2004, Manasota Key was under mandatory evacuation. Since we had a Chinese poet from Bejing we had to worry about, we learned we needed a new way to deal with residencies during the height of hurricane season. And thus was born the State Teacher/Artist (STAR) Program that made late summer residencies available for Florida public school teachers in visual art, theater, music, and creative writing. The STAR program was created in partnership with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education in Tampa, FL. Selected solely on the merit of artistic quality, this program has brought teacher/artists from 17 different Florida counties to the Hermitage for residencies. This year was our sixth STAR program, nourishing the artistic side of these educators, and returning them to their communities different - artistically fulfilled and renewed.

Joy Hawkins, Erin Bess, Elizabeth Vitale, Jeff Byers, and (center) A.J. Yanes


But hurricanes did come through - or "by" actually and left us with a lot of water, but no damage, fortunately. Another bullet dodged!

Goings and Comings

"Change is good." Okay, it's not always easy, but it can be good. This fall we said "goodbye" to longtime staff, Campus Coordinator Sharyn Lonsdale who left the Hermitage to become Director of Marketing at the Venice Symphony and Linda Mansperger who couldn't resist the call of the golf course and retirement. Fortunately, Linda has stayed on contract as our Grants Manager so we still get to see her.

Linda Mansperger
Sharyn Lonsdale

Coming into the organization as we restructured, we welcomed Craig Badinger, Development Director; Holly Pisaturo, Office Manager; and Jacobina Trump as Facilities Manager.

Holly Pisaturo, Craig Badinger, Jacobina Trump

Work In The World

Artists come to the Hermitage to complete work and send it out into the world. This fall we had the privilege of having author Ann Hood return to the Hermitage beach to read from the novel she wrote at the Hermitage.

Ann Hood reads on the Hermitage beach

And some of us journeyed to Princeton, NJ for the opening of Bathing In Moonlight the Greenfield Prize-winning play by Nilo Cruz in September.

The Artful Lobster

November means the Artful Lobster and this year delivered perfect weather; the beautiful Carla Dirlikov Canales and her beautiful voice; and Michael's On East delicious food. Chaired by Beth Cannata, everyone had a great time while raising significant funds to support the Hermitage mission.

Scenes from Artful Lobster 2016

Artists and Nature

As we close out 2016, we remember our artists, our beach dinners and programs, sunsets and an awesome Mother Nature.

All set for dinner...

Nature, Nature, Nature

Good Bye 2016 - Hello 2017

Created By
Bruce Rodgers

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