The Hermitage Artist Retreat invites the public to a FREE open studio, and musical performance and talk on Friday, May 11 beginning at 6:00 pm at the Manasota Key campus, 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood

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The Hermitage Artist Retreat invites the public to a FREE open studio, and musical performance and talk on Friday, May 11 beginning at 6:00 pm at the Manasota Key campus, 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood. It starts with an open studio to explore work by Vitus Shell, a Louisiana painter whose pictures deal with the black experience in America, often using “mainstream” white culture as a critical foil to convey meaning. The three concepts that drive his current practice are irony, activism, and his notion of black coolness. Depending on the piece, he calls attention to socio-economic issues that face Black America. At 7:00 pm, we move to the Palm House where world-renowned Composer Missy Mazzoli will talk about and perform her work.  She’ll be presenting excerpts from three of her recent operas, all of which have been critically acclaimed. With limited space in the Palm House, reservations are required and can be made online through email to [email protected].

“This will be a spectacular evening,” remarked Bruce E. Rodgers, Hermitage executive director. “Missy Mazzoli is one of the most significant composers on the music scene today. Vitus Shell is an outstanding painter, whose work is very powerful and dramatic. We are very excited to introduce these artists in a free program to the community.”

Vitus Shell describes himself as a mixed-media collage painter from Monroe, LA. Shell has been in residence at Mass MoCA, Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans, Skowhegan School of Art, Tougaloo Art Colony, and Masur Museum of Art, Monroe, LA. To date, he has participated in exhibits at universities, museums, and private galleries across the country including The McKenna Museum of African American Art, New Orleans, LA, Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ, New Orleans Museum of Art, University of Louisiana at Monroe, LA, Philander Smith College, Little Rock, AR, Cue Art Foundation, NYC, to name a few. He has painted murals for the National Civil Rights Museum’s NBA Pioneers exhibit, Union Parish Elementary School in Farmerville, LA; and is being commissioned to do public art by the Memphis UrbanArt Commission. Currently, he is an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Missy Mazzoli’s music has been performed all over the world by the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, Opera Philadelphia, LA Opera, Cincinnati Opera, New York City Opera, Chicago Fringe Opera, the Detroit Symphony, the LA Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, Dublin’s Crash Ensemble, the Sydney Symphony and many others. Her opera, Breaking the Waves, commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Beth Morrison Projects, premiered as part of New York’s Prototype Festival and was described as “among the best 21st-century operas yet” (Opera News). Her opera Proving Up premiered in January 2018 at the Kennedy Center. Her multimedia chamber opera Song from the Uproar played this year at LA Opera and Chicago Fringe Opera. The premiere of Ecstatic Science, a new work for chamber sextet yMusic played at Carnegie Hall. She writes for Grammy-winning vocal group Roomful of Teeth and the Kronos Quartet.  Missy is an active pianist and keyboardist, and often performs with Victoire, a band she founded in 2008. Their debut CD, Cathedral City, was named one of 2010′s best classical albums by Time Out New York, NPR, the New Yorker and the New York Times. Time Out New York called Missy “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart.” Ironically, she wrote and performed several pieces for the hit Amazon TV series Mozart in the JungleMissy’s community program is brought to you in part by EnsembleNewSRQ.

The Hermitage is a not-for-profit artist retreat located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood, FL. It 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. Hermitage community programs are sponsored in part 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), and the Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues. In addition, the Hermitage awards and administers the prestigious Greenfield Prize, an annual $30,000 commission for a new work of art, rotating among visual art, music and drama. The Hermitage also partners with the Aspen Music Festival and School to award the annual Hermitage Prize to a composition student during the Festival. For more information about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098, ext. 5, or visit the website at

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