The new year brings a fresh schedule of new art exhibits to the Peter Powell Roberts Museum of Art and Culture in Avon Park. The Heartland Cultural Alliance (HCA) hosts a monthly artist reception at its museum gallery.

The featured artist for January is Melissa Platt with her nature photography and digital art. Refreshments were offered to guests as they browsed the gallery. Kenny Summers played soft guitar music. As always, the monthly artist reception was free and open to the public.

“I have always loved photography and was never without a camera,” said Platt. She has also experimented in different art mediums from water colors to drawing and even painting on canvas.

With her children grown, Platt joined a photography group and her passion was instantly rekindled. She was inspired to spend her leisure time in nature photographing wildlife.

Platt later became interested in the artistry of digital imagery. Creating beautiful and unique images by mixing photography and digital technology with a splash of imagination, got her hooked on this new form of expression.

“I love to do composites, where I cut out a photo and add it with a different background. I want my work to be different, interesting and exciting.”

Platt traveled with a group to Bok Tower, where she took some beautiful photos. “The works of Thomas Kincaid, who is called the ‘painter of light,’ inspired my work there.”

One of her pieces titled ‘The Laughing Owl’, was purchased by Susan Baker. “We loved the expression on the owl. It’s hard to get that and it’s really cute,” said Debbie Snavely, Baker’s sister.

The owl is a digital print on canvas. “I saw the owls while I was in Cape Coral. I laid on the ground and looked up while I took the photo so I could block out the background,” said Platt.

Rev. John Grodzinski, of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Avon Park, was another art lover who purchased some of Platt’s work.

“A young lady told me about this “best kept secret” while attending my church. I was told the program was about ‘nature photography’. Since nature photography is my passion, I was drawn to purchase four pieces of her work.”

If you missed the reception, be sure to attend the HCA Festival of the Arts on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Platt’s work will be on display on in the gallery while downstairs there will be a showcase of the works of 24 talented local artists.

In addition there are festivities at the Depot Museum, which is right next door. The Avon Park Library will also be having a book sale.

The HCA Gallery is located in the Peter Powell Roberts Museum of Art and Culture at 310 W. Main Street in Avon Park.

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