"The most amazing, life-altering, eye-opening, practice-evolving, friendliest
and generous of gifts"
- Margaret Stewart, Photographer

Every symphony you hear, every play you see, every dance you experience every painting and sculpture you see, and every book you read, begins its life with a person in a room with an idea and a passion. The Hermitage provides the room for accomplished creators in a spectacular, inspiring environment. Our artists bring their brilliant ideas. Together, with nature, we feed the passion, and we share it all with our community. This is the work of the Hermitage.


The Hermitage Artist Retreat, along with its partner the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE), is pleased to announce this summer’s recipients of the State Teacher Artist Residencies (STARs). From July 11 through July 31, five artists, whose “day” job is to teach the arts to Florida students, will live and work at the Hermitage. They are Composer Adalberto Yanes, Visual Artists Jeff Byers and Elizabeth Vitale, Photographer Erin Bess and Writer Joy Hawkins. FAAE selects the STARs, after reviewing all applicants. The application process is open to all Florida public school arts teachers. Like all Hermitage artists, these fellows work and stay for free, in exchange for sharing their art with the community. This year’s STARs community program will be on Thursday, July 28. Details will be available on the Hermitage website and Facebook page closer to the program date. The STARs program is funded in part by a grant from the Allyn Foundation.

"It’s always a special time when we open our facility to the dedicated arts teachers who seldom have the time to work on their own artistic pursuits,” remarked Hermitage Executive Director Bruce E. Rodgers. “We’ve found it to be a time of inspiration, rejuvenation and personal growth for these amazing artists who nine months a year put their own projects on hold to inspire children around the state. We are very proud of this partnership with FAAE, as it lets us play a role in the development of the next generation of artists. When these teachers work on their art, and are appreciated as artists, they tend to bring back a renewed commitment to sharing their gifts in their classrooms."

This year’s STARs represent schools in five different Florida counties. From the east coast are Adalberto Yanes who teaches Music at Doral Academy Preparatory Charter School in Dade County and Elizabeth Vitale who teaches two-dimensional design at Nova High School in Broward County. Florida’s west coast is represented by Erin Bess who teaches art at Turner/Bartels K-8 School in Hillsborough County and Joy Hawkins, a reading and literature teacher at Buffalo Creek Middle School in Manatee County. North Florida artist Jeff Byers teaches art at Taylor County High School in Taylor County. All are devoted to their craft and their students, and will be taking their residencies seriously.

Adalberto Yanes is looking forward to being inspired, as stated in his application. “To work in an environment that promotes creativity surrounded by nature and other artists would be a wonderful opportunity and an honor.”

Joy Hawkins plans to work on a poetry blog and on an historic novel started years ago about Jenny Wiley, a pioneer woman to whom Hawkins’ is a 7th generation descendent. Elizabeth Vitale is a mixed media artist looking forward to exploring depth perception and free-form shapes, patterns and colors in her work. Jeff Byers wants to explore photography, painting, drawing and ceramics without interruption or distractions and hopes to come away with a renewed energy to create and inspire his students.

Photographer Erin Bess expressed it this way, "By participating in the summer residency program, I hope to create more work as a professional artist, renew my energy and inspiration, and bring both aspects back to the classroom."

According to Rodgers, "Every year we are inspired when we meet these amazing teachers who work with our children. Arts education opens the door to creative thinking, a skill recognized as important in our face-paced, technology-driven world. Playing just a small part in that development by our STARs program is something of which the Hermitage is very proud."

If you will be near the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Thursday, July 28, please come meet the STARs and enjoy the free community program. Planned are open studios and a beach program with music and a reading. Check the website calendar for times. To reserve call 941-475-2098, extension 8 or go online www.reservations@HermitageArtistRetreat.org.


We are proud to share our talented people with those in the region through our community programs. Check our calendar and blog for up-to-date information on Hermitage news and events. Interested in volunteering? Our Friends of the Hermitage organization offers many excellent opportunities.