AVON PARK — The Peter Powell Roberts Museum in Avon Park celebrated their first anniversary on May 18, which was also “International Museum Day.” The celebration was a full-day event as the venue also hosted the Tri-Chamber Mixer in the evening.
Guests were welcomed by Fred and Gail Leavitt and Norma Evans with the Heartland Cultural Alliance (HCA). Soft and relaxing guitar music was provided by Kenny Summers.
There are frequent additions to the artwork on display as sales have been good and displays need to be replenished. The featured artist on Museum Day was John Claytor, a master diver and sawyer with water wood originals. His work has been very popular and has sold well.
Under Dead Head Logging, Claytor dives for river salvaged pine and cypress logs. It’s an underwater salvage of preharvested timber. The material was left over from early loggers and saw millers, who logged and lost the timber from the early days.
“Some of the lumber is from as far back as the late 1700s. Spain was sending their ships here to get their share of the prized wood to make more ships. The wood was called ‘prized logs’ for their value and high quality,” Claytor said.
He started diving for treasures just looking around for leftover stuff in the water. Claytor kept seeing a lot of lumber. By the 1970s he started developing equipment to do the actual salvaging. It’s a dangerous task with alligators to possibly encounter and water variances including depth, temperature and darkness to consider.
Claytor only uses underwater wood from selected Florida rivers. He has gathered Heart Cypress from Live Oak, Branford and Sanford and Pecky Cypress from Dunnellon and Palatka.
“We are celebrating International Museum Day today at the Peter Powell Roberts Museum of Art and Culture,” said Norma Evans with HCA. “Many museums have events to mark the occasion. This is very special for us as it’s our first anniversary. Many pieces have already been sold and we have artists regularly bringing new items for the gallery.”
Megan Stepe, curator of MOFAC at South Florida State College and Mary Beth Isaacson, librarian at the Avon Pak Library, were browsing the gallery exhibits on Museum Day. Many people were there after work to attend the Tri-Chamber Mixer.
Pastries, cakes, fruit, sandwiches, crackers, cheese and beverages graced two large tables for guests to enjoy. Highlands Little Theater Director Vanessa Logsdon was there with actress Rose Marie Tippins Beringer.
The Peter Powell Roberts Museum of Art and Cultural Center is at 310 W. Main St. in Avon Park. Summer hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit their website at peterpowellroberts.org/Museum.html.