The Hermitage Artist Retreat invites all to a playwright reading, open studios and beach demonstration on Friday, January 5th on their Manasota Key campus

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 The Hermitage Artist Retreat invites all to a playwright reading, open studios and beach demonstration on Friday, January 5th on their Manasota Key campus. The evening will start at 4:00 pm with drama in the Palm House, 6630 Manasota Key Road, Englewood, when award-winning playwright Craig Lucas will present some scenes from his latest work to catch us up on what he’s doing now, almost ten years since winning the 2009 Greenfield Prize. Following Craig, will be visual artists Danial Nord, and Juana Valdes who will present a “show and tell” about about their work. At 5:00 we will go to the beach and/or open studios. Danial Nord will be demonstrating how he uses sand in creating his sculptures. Juana and returning Hermitage fellow Fran Siegel will open their studios to show their latest works in progress. All will end with Mother Nature’s sunset at 5:50 pm which guests are invited to stay and enjoy. Artist programs are free but reservations are required when programming is planned at the Palm House, due to limited space. To reserve your place, simply call 941-475-2098, ext. 8 or email [email protected]. Studios will close at 6:00 pm.

  “What a great way to start the new year,” remarked Hermitage Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers. “We’ve a full house of exceptional artists, who will inspire us with their work when they share their latest ideas and projects. Whatever your favorite art form might be, being exposed to new art in different disciplines offers exciting information with something interesting for everyone. Seeing, hearing, meeting and talking to these artists is so special. Please call soon before reservations fill up.”

Playwright Craig Lucas will read excerpts from recent work, including I Was Most Alive With You (premiering at Playwrights Horizons in the fall of 2018) and Death of the Republic (written in response to last year’s election). We might also hear something from All Will Be Known, a new commission, set in the 1960s about research Timothy Leary & his fellow Harvard scientists were doing on the beneficial use of psychedelics, while the CIA was researching the same substances for very different purposes. 

  Danial Nord is an interdisciplinary artist who uses a special high-powered torch and sheets of polycarbonate plastic to capture the shapes of sculptures that he creates from sand on the beach. Back in his California studio, he builds them into luminous electrified sculptures that incorporate video, flowing water, sound and light, creating a completely new hybrid experience. One of these sculptures was recently commissioned for the Beall Center for Art and Technology at UC Irvine, and he is currently developing a large-scale project for the Torrance Art Museum in Los Angeles. Danial will talk about the process and show examples of several of his installations, and then do a live demonstration of his unique fiery process on our beach.

Juana Valdes will show her work at the Palm House, and then invite you into her studio. 

 Her artwork is grounded in a multi-disciplinary practice that combines the processes of photography, sculpture, performance, ceramic, and printmaking. Her work elicits migration as a complex process, constructing history through a continuum that involves both the Cuban diasporic community and her new homeland. In her current work, Valdes joins many contemporaries in creating artwork by using, collecting, hoarding and recycle objects in search of locating her own identity.

Returning visual artist Fran Siegel’s studio will show daily documentation of the Hermitage natural surroundings in the form of tiles and drawings she is creating of the sea and sky. 

“Last year while in residence at the Hermitage, Danial Nord was inspired to create a new way of making sculpture, using our beach sand. This isn’t your grandma’s sand sculpture” said Co-Founder and Program Director Patricia Caswell.  “Likewise, it is easy to fall in love with Juana’s work because it reminds you of your grandmother’s china dishes, or a dish rag hanging on a kitchen hook.  But behind these homey images is immense scholarship, research and reflection. The inspiring work of all four of these artists, be it in written or in visual form, will provide an artistic experience unlike any other. Please join us.”

The Hermitage is a not-for-profit artist retreat which invites accomplished painters, sculptors, writers, playwrights, poets, composers and other artists from all over the world for residencies on its beachfront historic campus. Many of these artists are Pulitzer Prize, Tony, Emmy, Grammy and MacArthur “Genius” Award winners. Artists are asked to interact with the community during their stay and as a result, Hermitage artists touch thousands of Gulf Coast community residents with unique and inspiring programs each year. These programs are partially sponsored by the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture and the State of Florida (Section 286.25, Florida Statutes). For more information about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098, ext. 5, or visit the website at

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