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Hillary Clinton accepts painting from local artist

By Staff | Sep 9, 2016

Myra Roberts with her portrait of Hillary Clinton. ASHLEY GOODMAN

Last Wednesday night, local artist Myra Roberts received a phone call from a collector friend telling her that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton officially accepted a portrait of her that she recently painted.

“I hope that she loves it and I’d love to have the opportunity to go there in person,” Roberts said.

The portrait came into fruition after Robert’s saw many images on the internet negatively depicting Clinton. Her idea was to paint the opposite: Roberts portrait portrays a young and seemingly innocent Clinton.

“Everyone who has seen this portrait has said I captured that sweet little girl positivity and I believe she still has that,” she said. “She inspires me as a woman, she inspires me for my daughters and for our future.”

According to Roberts, the “I like Ike” slogan on the pin Clinton is wearing in the portrait signifies a point in time when Democrats and Republicans got along.

Roberts initially made the connection with Clinton back in 2012. Roberts traveled to Boca Raton to hear Hannah Rosenthal speak about anti-Semitism. At the end of the forum, Roberts handed Rosenthal a copy of her “Project Tolerance” book which features a series of paintings of Anne Frank.

Rosenthal asked if she could have a second copy for Clinton herself. Shortly after, she received a letter from Clinton saying she was moved by her artwork and was grateful for her undertaking to promote love and tolerance through her art.

Aside from Clinton, Roberts has also presented her work to John Scott, Democratic candidate who is running for Florida State House District 79. On Aug. 27, Roberts presented Scott with a print of one of her latest paintings called “Big Sugar.” The image shows a manatee with an oxygen tank strapped on its back, a pot of sugar and a dead fish below him. She plans on donating prints of the painting to different organizations.

“John Scott impressed me as a man who will work hard to get things done. I gave it to him because he was doing so many wonderful things for awareness,” she said.

Although her politically charged paintings are quite eye-catching, She has a softer side as well. What Roberts is most known for are her quirky vintage paintings. Her father owned a clothing store up north which caused her to become infatuated with fashion and that old Hollywood look.

“As a little girl, he would take me to fashion shows in New York. You can’t help but be interested in fashion if your father has magazines all around. Also, I love that era. I study the pin-up artists from that time. It’s a way to take my figurative art, my love of old Florida and put it together,” Roberts said.

Roberts has been painting for as long as she can remember. She credits her mother for encouraging to become an artist.

“It started very early as a little girl. In kindergarten, I started loving art and my mother saw that and she introduced me to an artist who lived on our block,” Roberts said.

After graduating from Arizona State University with a degree in painting and drawing and art education, She taught art at public schools in Chicago for 25 years before moving to Sanibel.

Roberts and her husband Wes, made the move to Sanibel in 1999. The couple are environmentalists and avid bikers. While staying with a friend in Fort Myers, Roberts decided to go on a bike ride and as soon as she hit Sanibel, she knew it was where she wanted to live.

“We’ve always loved living in unique places. Even when we lived in Chicago, we lived in the outskirts on a farm. I wanted to live in a community that respected the natural environment and kept it the way it was and that’s Sanibel. It’s a very unique place and what’s around me inspires me,” Roberts said.

To honor her art and social activism, she was presented with the the 2016 MAKERS award earlier this year. The award is put together by WGCU Public Media, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida. The award recognizes women who have made a mark in the arts, business, education, environment, health/wellness, politics or social justice in Southwest Florida.

Currently, Roberts is working on getting some art together for a big show called “Dream Peace” which will take place in 2018 at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in Fort Myers.