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Artist Myra Roberts’ next show is in Naples

January 4, 2017
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

A conversation that sparked during the preview of 2016 WGCU MAKERS video, turned into a gallery opening in Naples for one Sanibel artist.

Myra Roberts said she met Barbara Hawkes, director of the Frances Pew Hayes Center for Lifelong Learning, located on the Naples campus of Hodges University, during the 2016 WGCU MAKERS presentation.

"She said I loved what you had to say, would you consider a small exhibit and lecture for our series of lifelong learning at the center in Naples," Roberts said. "That same night Myra Janco Daniels came up to me and said she loved the direction I was going in with the Holocaust education programs I give and to keep in touch."

Article Photos

Myra Roberts and Myra Janco Daniels.


That initial conversation led to Daniels visiting Roberts' studio on Sanibel.

"She is a fantastic art collector. Immediately we struck up a great conversation about her art collection," Roberts said.

After Daniels visited Roberts' studio and saw her painting series, "Hidden in the Trees," she asked Roberts to paint a family tree for her.

"She took this tree trunk that I saw in her studio and reproduced it. Where the branches are trimmed there are murals in the wood. There is a different member of my family. It's quite exciting. It is just stunning," Daniels said. "I sent it to my brother who is very hard to please. He called me up long distance and said, 'I never had a better gift in my life.'"

Roberts used Daniels' original black and white photographs for the painting, which included many enchanting stories about her childhood.

"Dream Peace: Images of Holocaust Horrors and Heroes" will be held at the Hodges University Naples Campus from 3-4:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 26.

The art gallery opening will also feature the painting Roberts did for Daniels.

"It's a preview of Dream Peace, which is my newest show," she said. "I'll be giving a guided artist tour. I'll be walking around taking questions and talking about each piece."

One of the pieces to be featured shares the story of Ann Jaffe, who was 10 months old. She and her brother, who was 1 1/2 months old, escaped with their parents and other family members into the woods of Belarus where they lived for two years.

"I am so connected to there because that is exactly where my father lived and all of his relatives, of which I lost some during the Holocaust," Roberts said. "They lost everyone except their immediate family. She saved these photographs that are now 75 years old."

The reception will feature "riveting and exciting" stories of the will to survive and the people that helped them.

One of the pieces to be featured illustrates a cape torn in half.

"When they were escaping for their very lives, the little girl, Ann, grabbed a cape to wrap her 1 1/2-month-old brother in," Roberts said. "This cape has a lot of significance to their survival."

The second part of the show will take place from 1-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, also at Hodges. Roberts began working with a filmmaker who took the rough recordings done on her phone and incorporated images and music to go along with the interviews.

Because Roberts is a social activist and she thinks now more than ever, "We've got to help the people who right now are hurting so bad in Aleppo, I'm trying to get donations" to enter the show. All money collected will go towards The White Helmets, an organization that puts boots on the ground and provides instant first aid. With just $10, she said it can provide a lifesaving first aid kit.

"I wanted to know what I could do as a citizen of the United States to help people that are now stranded and being killed in Aleppo. The reason that is so close to me is I see so many similarities of what's happening in the world today and what happened in the Holocaust starting in the 1920s with the propaganda campaign," she said. "Part of my program is studying propaganda and how it lead to World War II and the Holocaust."

Daniels said Roberts is a remarkable woman and a great find for the area.

"Myra has something to offer to the public. Myra is a newcomer, so to speak, and she gives it her all. It's not how she feels. It's how she wants the picture to unfold and it unfolds beautifully," Daniels said.

Daniels moved to Florida after her husband decided to retire. She said they sold their advertising firm and moved to Marco Island because the fishing was good. Unfortunately her husband became sick and died of cancer.

The island, she explained, was very sterile in 1980 with no art and only a little music.

"I went up to thank the president of the firm that put it on," Daniels said of a concert. "He said this is our last performance because we don't have the money."

Her friend, Mary Ellen Hawkins, a former state representative, told the president that Daniels would help him.

"I wanted to kick her in the shins," Daniels said.

That conversation later led to the beginning of the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts.

"Mary Ellen egged me on and said you have to find something to do. I couldn't vegetate. I built the Center of the Arts," Daniels said. "I think that was a good thing for a friend to do for someone."



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