SEBRING — The Highlands Art League is pleased to announce that its new exhibit “‘American Pickers” is now open to the public for viewing at MoTA (Museum of the Arts). MoTA is located next to Highlands Lakeside Theatre in downtown Sebring on Lakeview Drive.

On Friday, Jan. 7, they hosted a reception where guests could meet and greet the featured artist, Tony Rosa. Rosa’s main exhibit, which consists of 12 paintings that capture the working spirit of a Florida orange grove, was inspired by a visit to such a grove back in 2019.

“The grove was so close to where I lived and the subject matter was so interesting, that it just couldn’t be ignored here in Central Florida. I asked permission to walk around and take pictures. The workers, both young and old, were very welcoming and receptive. They were all smiles, even though I don’t speak their language.

“From that short visit, something extraordinary happened,” said Rosa. “I was inspired and energized and worked like a mad man for 10 straight weeks. I’m convinced the whole process was a magical moment with the proof being in the effort and motivation that moved me to tell the story.”

He says he chose the title “American Picker” because he felt it was the best description for what he experienced. He asks people to pause and think about what is portrayed and how accurate and appropriate the title is.

“I was greeted with smiling faces and the greeting ‘muchas naranjas’ (many oranges) as I wandered the grove. It was only fitting that I used it as the title for a number of the paintings. I really respect what they do and how hard they work and just had to tell their story.”

Rosa said that these men worked very hard every day, bringing their radios, lunch and drink coolers. They were so focused. This is what they do.

“While some stopped and gave me a quick pose, I really tried to stay out of their way and just observe what they did.”

Rosa’s paintings took the “Juror’s Choice” award for three consecutive years at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Annual Celebration of the Arts. His work “Bayonets and Bougainvillea” hangs in the A.E Backus Museum and Gallery in Ft. Pierce.

“I had some success with the Tampa Bay Lightning Celebration of the Arts. I’ve had hockey pictures accepted into the exhibit. It’s a great event with tickets for the game and a private reception. The chosen works are on exhibit for the entire season.

“Right now I have ‘Puck Drop’ (located in the downstairs gallery of MoTA) entered. It’s pending right now as things were halted due to COVID. I am so motivated as I’ve been accepted three times out of over 500 entries.”

“I love ‘Puck Drop’!” said Deb Klipper. “It’s the whole perspective and energy that plays off the hockey players. It’s energizing with the feeling of anticipation at the time the puck drops.”

You can visit Rosa’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TonyRosaPainter/.

“American Pickers” will be on display at MOTA through Feb. 19. There is no cost to view the exhibit. Please check HAL’s website for hours of operation at www.highlandsartleague.org.

MoTa is located at 351 West Center Avenue in downtown Sebring, off of Lakeview Drive.

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