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Myra Roberts releases new book of artwork

By Staff | Dec 17, 2009

To go into Myra Roberts home on Sanibel is to almost enter a museum of history.

Across from the comfy pastel colored kitchen chairs hangs original oil paintings of legendary island characters, and places such as Gramma Dot and the Schoolhouse Theater.

If you look at the vintage paintings of ladies and gentlemen dressed in long gowns, fedoras and long bathing suits you can almost picture yourself there – walking with Thomas Edison as his mind swam with new ideas for inventions or waiting on the dock with a misty-eyed local waiting for a boat to come and pick her up.

History seems to live and breathe on the canvases.

But this is the point of Roberts who has for 30 years painted her sensitivity, acuity, intellect, research and talent into creating and recreating lives and by-gone time periods through art.

And after about a year of additional work, a collection is available of these pieces in the form of a book.

Roberts whose work graces the Art in the Tree Tops Gallery on Sanibel, BIG ARTS on Sanibel, Lily’s Jewelers and Arts for ACT in Fort Myers, has just released a book “Retro Images From The Florida Coast”.

Roberts will sign copies of her book, at The Sanibel Public Library on Thursday, Jan. 21 from 4-6 p.m. Brian Johnson is the author of the book and will join Roberts at the book-signing. Johnson and Roberts collaborated on the book during a series of interviews in 2009.

“Residents and visitors who love Sanibel and Captiva will really enjoy her portraits of island life,” said Johnson. “Myra is exceptionally talented, and I hope this book will bring her art to an even wider audience.”

There will also be a book signing at Lily’s Jewelers on Sanibel Feb. 18th from 5 to 9 p.m. and two signings on Captiva in March, Johnson said.

This book introduces Roberts detailed work and research of landmarks, places and famous personalities who came to Sanibel & Captiva, such as Anne Morrow Linbergh, J.N. “Ding” Darling and Thomas Edison. Historic places such as ‘Tween Waters Inn, Jensen’s Marina and Casa Ybel Resort can be found in the book.

“We’re all excited about it,” said Duane Shaffer, head of collection development and adult programs. “She stopped by the library and we saw some of her newest paintings. There’s something compelling about her art. Her whole technique is so attractive, people instantly like it.”

The book provides an inside look at the life and creative process of one of Southwest Florida’s most critically-acclaimed artists, said Johnson.

“Myra’s original, vintage-style art portrays the things people love about Florida: palm-fringed beaches, blue-green water, sea turtles, bathing beauties, and other tropical scenes,” Johnson said. “Her paintings, like those of Norman Rockwell, tell a story that appeals to people of all ages and interests.”

For Roberts, the making of the book took her down the path many of her subjects went. Her work did not just involve painstaking, defined strokes of color and precision. That came later. But first, endless amounts of research into subjects like Anne Morrow Linbergh who is famed for being a pioneering aviator as well a poet. Linbergh is known to have visited and spent time on the islands. She also studied the lives J.N. “Ding” Darling and local island notables such as Gramma Dot whom a restaurant is named.

“We have such a rich history here on our islands,” Roberts said. “The more I learned the more I wanted to paint.”

Roberts pieces are painted like vintage posters and ads from the turn of the century through the 1950s’. Roberts has made vintage art from this era a life-long study that is reflected in much of her work.

Her pieces have garnered accolades, awards and the attention of the late art icon Robert Rauschenberg whose collection includes her work. Roberts work has also been chosen for book covers and magazines. She has helped organizations such as the Lee Memorial Hospital, CROW and Sanibel Cares raise thousands of dollars.

But this latest collection fulfills a legacy that Roberts hopes to leave for present and future island residents.

“I have captured a time period,” she said.

To order a copy of her new book, visit www.MyraRoberts.com or write to IslandScene1@comcast.net.

There will be 1,000 limited edition hard copies signed by Roberts. Books will cost $65 per copy, Johnson said.

(A press report contributed to this story.)