NEWBERRY, Fla. – One Newberry man wants to show you his art. But if you’re going to see it as intended, you’ll have to turn off the lights.
Robert Roberg, founder of the 3-D Fluorescent Art Museum located at 25310 W. Newberry Road, said he has created the first collective display of its kind in the United States and possibly the world. The gallery and cultural center, which will be open to the public starting Feb. 21, will feature his own black-light and multidimensional work alongside other local artists’ contributions.
There will be no charge for museum admission, but optional $3 holographic glasses will be available to enhance the experience.
When guests arrive, they will see how the paintings are naturally fluoresce on their own. But once the light switch is flipped, simple brushstrokes and rigid shapes will transform into iridescent images. With holographic lenses, the paintings are further altered to become 3-D — light is broken into prisms, giving the art its surreal effect.
“It’s like a dream come true for me,” he said.
Roberg has been painting since the 1970s, but said he first became interested in black-light and fluorescent art in Peru in 1985.
He was instantly hooked on this painting method when he discovered it three decades ago. Since then, he has been working to open a museum that will showcase his art, and similar works.
Once the museum opens, Roberg said he and his wife, Monique, who often works with crafts and kids at First Methodist Church, will teach classes to children and provide interactive activities to get the local community involved in this type of art. Although the museum is not for profit, the classes, which will last about two hours per session, will cost an estimated $25 to cover the cost of materials and rent.
People of all ages are encouraged to visit the museum, Roberg said. But the targeted audience is children. They tend to be more attracted to the vibrant colors.
Ali Spechler, a 24-year-old artist and educator at Young At Art Children’s Museum in Davie, Fla., agreed the style is appealing to youngsters.
“I personally do not use neon paint in my work, but see on a daily basis how much the kids love the Kenny Scharf Closet at Young At Art Museum,” she said.
Spechler said the Young At Art Children’s Museum has a similar permanent exhibit called Kenny Scharf’s Closet, which is the 18th installment of a NYC-based artist’s disco black-light project that utilizes neon colors and avant-garde design comparable to Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.
“The black light brings them [children] into an alternative universe with Kenny’s prints, and sculptural collages create a new world of exploration,” Spechler said.
Wanting to inspire youth in a similar way, Roberg said he hopes his museum can continue developing and become a national museum.
With the popularity of paint-dance parties, often called Dayglow, among youth and the general neon trend, he said it has potential to become widespread.
“It’s really the story of paint,” he said in regards to art history. “Paint has evolved over the years – I think it’s our generation and our age – and I would love to see this become a movement.”
Spechler said the theme of this new museum’s style reminds her of trippy ‘70s posters and the works of artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Lynda Benglis, but neon already belongs in the “Hippie Generation,” while black-light art and the like can be categorized more into the current digital age.
A spokeswoman for The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art said the museum has pop art, light sculptures and mixed media pieces in its contemporary section and in storage, but nothing definitively similar to what will be displayed at the 3-D Fluorescent Art Museum.
So far, Roberg said the museum will showcase his own pieces, select paintings with a phosphorus glow by Tallahassee artist Perdita Ross and works by Turkish artist Coskun Gezer. However, he said he is still in the process of obtaining more artwork before and after the opening.
The grand opening weekend, which will have live music, takes place Feb. 21 from 7-9:30 p.m., Feb. 22 from 2-8 p.m. and Feb. 23 from 2-5 p.m.
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