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February 17, 2015


The Hermitage Artist Retreat, located at 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood, is holding its next free, beach event on Friday, February 27th, beginning at 5:00 pm. First visit the historic homes now used by artists from around the world. An open studio will feature paintings in progress by Felix de La Concha. His subject has been the The Whitney House, used by Hermitage writers, in various hours of the day with sunlight changing the colors. Program Director Patricia Caswell, describes these in one word, “Exquisite!” Never the same, the beach portion of this event begins at 6:00 and will feature solo show actor and Kennedy Center Master Story teller Jon Spelman who will captivate the audience with his stories. Playwright Rich Orloff will present a scene read by actress Kate Alexander, Florida Studio Theatre’s (FST) Associate Director, followed by sunset at 6:30. But that does not end the program. Poet and Statesman Chris Merrill, will share his experiences around the world through his poetry and prose. At approximately 6:40, Grammy-nominee and Chicago Symphony Orchestra Resident Composer Anna Clyne will talk about and play a video of her work “Violin” with poetry and animated images. The program is expected to end by 7:00 pm. Simply bring a beach chair and any refreshments. In case of inclement weather, check the Hermitage Facebook page or call 941-475-2098. All 2015 Hermitage programs are sponsored by Gerri Aaron. The Feb. 27 event is also sponsored in part by Robin Radin.

“What an amazing lineup,” remarked Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage. “Many of the artists are here for the second time so visitors might have enjoyed their work before. It is always exciting to see and hear what’s new from these amazing people, who are creating new art and cultural experiences that we get to sample first, right on our beach.”

Felix de la Concha was born in Spain and divides his time between Madrid and Iowa City. His paintings have been shown in many countries, including the US, Europe and South America. His work focuses on portraiture, usually done in a single session with his subject. His work at the Hermitage has concentrated on our Florida landscapes.

Jon Spelman is no stranger to Florida and Sarasota. For five years, he was an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Florida State University and Associate Artistic Director of The Asolo State Theatre. Spelman also founded FST, and was its Artistic Director for the first seven years until he began full time as a solo performer. Spelman has been called “World-Class” (Los Angeles TIMES), and “a stunning wordsmith and a riveting performer” (Washington POST). He has performed on NPR, at the Smithsonian Institution, The Round House Theatre at Lincoln Center, and around the world. Spelman has received three EMMYS, presented by the Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He has been honored with a Children’s Radio Award, an Achievement in Children’s Television Award, has been admitted into The Circle of Excellence of the National Storytelling Network, and is listed in WHO’S WHO IN AMERICA.

Christopher Merrill is a poet and writer who is also the director of the International Writing Program at University of Iowa and a cultural envoy for the state department. He is a current member of the National Council of the Humanities, an appointment by President Obama. Christopher’s work takes him all over the world and his experiences are reflected in his writing. As first recipient of the Annette Dignam Hermitage/SCF Residency in Literature, he is also teaching at SCF throughout February.  

Rich Orloff’s plays have been presented across the country in many regional theaters. He has authored over a dozen one-acts and 75 short comedies and dramas. Orloff’s short plays have had over 900 productions on six of the seven continents (and a staged reading in Antarctica). His short comedies have been published six times in the annual Best American Short Plays series, three times in the annual Best Ten-Minute Plays series, in the bilingual collection An Anthology of Contemporary American Plays (published in China), in The Bedford Guide to Literature, and in anthologies published by Random House and Western Michigan University Press. 

London-born Anna Clyne is a composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music, Her work has been described as “dazzlingly inventive” by Time Out New York, and often includes collaborations with cutting edge choreographers, visual artists, film-makers, and musicians worldwide. This year, Anna Clyne was nominated for two Grammy Awards, one for best engineered classical album and one for best contemporary classical composition for Prince of Clouds, which was composed at the Hermitage Artist Retreat

For more information on the Hermitage, please visit the website www.HermitageArtistRetreat.org or call 941-373-3803.

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