Calendar sales to benefit Community Center
SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND From left, Community Center
Executive Director Pierrette Kelly meets with calendar
artist Robert Harper and his wife, Amy. Harper's
calendar features Florida sunsets and sunrises, and
seven of the 14 months are Anna Maria scenes.
ANNA MARIA – Robert Harper captures the beauty of Florida sunrise and sunsets and is using this beauty to benefit the Island Community Center.
"A few weeks ago, I read an article in the newspaper that said the Community Center needed donations, and I thought about making a calendar of my oils and donating it to the Community Center,” Harper explained. “It came about really quickly.”
Harper and his wife, Amy, called the Center’s Executive Director Pierrette Kelly and the three met and made Harper’s gift a reality. All proceeds from the sale of the calendar will be donated to the Center.
Harper, who is from Lakeland, has a long history with the Island. From the age of eight, his family made it their annual vacation spot.
‘We came across the old wooden bridge in Bradenton Beach and it scared me to death,” he recalled. “There were mosquitoes by the billions and no air conditioning. We had to haul old milk jugs full of water because the water was sulphur.”
When he was 17, his visits to the Island ended and he began a career in the building industry. He is currently owner and president of Harper Realty and Development Company in Lakeland. He served as president of the Florida Home Builder’s Association in 1996, was named Builder of the Year in 1998 and was inducted into the Florida Housing Hall of Fame in 2004.
“Fifteen years ago, we began coming back to Anna Maria,” he said, and in 2001, we bought a home in Holmes Beach. We divide our time between Lakeland and the Island.”
About 10 years ago, Harper began painting after Amy hosted a wine glass painting party for her friends and he claimed, “I can do that.” Thirty minutes later, he had four wine glasses baking in the oven.
“I started filling the cabinets and shelves with wine glasses, and Amy said I need to start painting on canvas. I painted in acrylics for four years, and they looked like elementary school paintings.
“Someone said I shouldn’t try oils, and I took that as a challenge. I’ve worked in oils ever since. I paint mostly nature and have about 80 originals.”
In 2005, his painting “Wetland Sanctuary” was selected for display in the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Center in Washington, D.C. Prints of his work are displayed in various locations in Lakeland and at The Studio at Gulf and Pine in Anna Maria.
The 14-month calendar is available for $12 at the Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Calendars purchased by Dec. 31 will count toward the Lester Challenge. Harper will be signing calendars at Lester Family Fun Day at the Center on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To view Harper’s art go to his Web site at RFHarper.com.