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Roberts ‘Dream Peace’ exhibition to be displayed at Fort Myers art center

By Staff | Dec 20, 2017

Roberts stands with her piece “When they go low, we go high,” a quote that helped her personally. PHOTO PROVIDED

For the last four years, artist Myra Roberts has worked on 60 pieces of multimedia works that will be on exhibit for the entire month of February at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in Fort Myers.

“I feel lucky that I have the energy to do this and that I do have an audience that appreciates it,” she said.

On Jan. 21, all of WGCU’s biggest sponsors are invited to a cocktail party at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, which is just prior to her next exhibit, “Dream Peace” at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center from Friday, Feb. 2, through Saturday, Feb. 24.

“They are bringing their sponsors, their television segment and their radio interview. I can’t be happier. They asked me if I would do a special piece and auction it off,” Roberts said.

The opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2. The reception will include music performed by pianist and teacher Roxane Olevsky, classical piano pieces, as well as a 20-minute play by Megan Shindler and her theatrical collective S(he) Will Fade.

“I think people are uniting and staying strong and speaking up about unspeakable things,” Roberts said. “The theater group is called S(he) Will Fade. They are all graduates of FGCU. Someone told me about them and I called them and asked them to be apart of my show. They connected with my standup art about women.”

The last four years, Roberts has disciplined herself to do something in the direction of her show “Dream Peace” every day, which will feature 60 new pieces.

“This show, I consider to be an extremely educational show. I’m involving people in our community,” she said.

One of the pieces that will be on exhibit is dedicated to a man who lives on Sanibel, Robert Hilliard, in her talking suitcase series.

“I really love this man. He lives in our community and he inspires me to do what I do because he thinks it’s valuable. He has been my mentor. He continues to do his work as a social activist on many levels,” Roberts said.

He’s just one of the talking suitcase, which showcases the individual’s story.

“People will have earphones and the suitcases will be on a stand,” she said.

Roberts was also asked to do a memorial piece for Laura and Steve Lavakian, residents of Sanibel. She said Steve worked for John Glen as his campaign manager.

“They asked me to do a memorial piece because their ancestors, his grandparents, were sent out to the desert. They lost many family members in this genocide. I’m reading everything I can get my hands on, doing hours of research,” Roberts said. “I’m finding it’s a great connection to what I’m doing with the Holocaust. That piece, that I’m doing for them, will be a premier piece at my Berne Davis show, which is a combination of social justice, current political times compared to the 1940s and then my fun 1940s fun pieces.”

Roberts said she is very excited about the Armenian genocide piece because it’s important to know history.

“Basically, Aurora Mardiganian . . . she was 19 and sent out into the desert with 17 girls age 5 to 19. What happened in the desert changed her entire life. All of the girls were raped and impaled on a cross. The cruelty of this war is beyond words. When they asked me to do this I googled heroins of the war and she popped up. She escapes and the 16 girls die. Somehow she ends up in New York. She does a film, a book and a play about what happens. She earns millions of dollars and sends it all back to the few survivors.”

The piece, she said is a memorial for his mother and all the other people sent to the desert.

In an effort to have a positive twist on wars, Roberts created two paintings, one on Adolfo Kaminski and the other on Sousa Mendes. Kaminski saved 14,000 people by foraging passports and Mendes saved 30,000 people by writing passports.

Roberts hired an editor, Elizabeth Grimm, because she wanted everything on display during her show to be fact based. Grimm helped Roberts put a full length book together of all 60 new pieces that will be on display.

“The book is a catalogue of these stories,” Roberts said.

Her fun, colorful Florida paintings will also be among the pieces in the show.

“Flamingle at Traders” is one of them.

“Traders is opening a new restaurant and they have a little section of my art, so I thought it would be fun to do something for the new restaurant,” Roberts said.

Another part of Roberts show stems around “Your voice can change the world,” a quote from Barack Obama, and “When they go low, we go high,” from Michelle Obama.

“When they go low, we go high, helped me personally during the election because I felt so low. I think that saying continues to uplift people. I think that when people see these two, these are my friends, they will be very happy to see them again,” she said.

Last week, the Southwest Florida Collier and Lee County Planned Parenthood asked Roberts to be a featured artist. She designed a piece, “Never Again” supporting women’s health, which will be featured in the show.

“I made copies of the original and I’m selling posters of it. All proceeds, 100 percent, will go to Planned Parenthood,” she said, adding that the invitation was a real honor.

She is very thankful she has support from so many different people, as well as her yoga teacher Patricia Gennity, help her spiritually and physically.

“I don’t think at my age, quite frankly, that I could keep up this work, the mental stress involved with hearing these stories without my yoga and meditation, which I try to do every day,” Roberts said. “The reason the sponsors are so vital to me is because I could not continue to financially do this because it is on such a huge level of production from the recording, videographer, editing and the book . . . everything that goes with being a museum level artist. I could just cry thinking about how grateful I am to these people.”

She is also grateful for the Sydney & Berne Davis Center for doing something out of the box because her work is social commentary art.

“It is an art that connects political times, past and present and it’s an art that is very much for human rights. That’s what I do. I am a human rights activist. At the end of my life I hope I am remembered for at least giving people some thought about how we can do something different. To make the world a better place for our grandchildren. The direction we are going in, I feel, can be so gratefully improved by learning our history and not denying it.”

Private tours of the show are available by appointment. They can be made by calling (239) 395-5370, or by emailing myralynn51@msn.com. Her work can be viewed at www.myraroberts.com.