Highlands Museum of the Arts

Highlands Museum of the Arts


The mission of Highlands MoTA is to enrich lives in our diverse community by fostering essential conversations and encouraging creativity through exhibitions and educational activities that explore various types of art in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas.

MoTA is open for this exhibit Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am – 3 pm. and 1.5 hours before Highlands Little Theatre performances. Admission is free. Donations are gratefully accepted.

CURRENT EXHIBIT: 

The Spirit of Beads: from religious banners to art

Generations of Haitian flag makers have combined their religious beliefs, symbols of Europe and the Americas, and African histories to create beautifully hand-beaded and sequined designs in flags used  for rituals and celebration. Artist and collector Betty Ford-Smith has lent her expertise in African and Haitian art to Highlands natives and visitors in the past, showing in museums, presenting in schools, and sharing knowledge that is rare. The Spirit of Beads: from religious banners to art represents an amazing collection of more than fifty flags, collected over a span of more than three decades.

Today, Ford-Smith is most known for her Pine-Cone quilts, which have hung in the National Quilt Museum and have taken her as close as the Steven Foster State Park in White Springs, Florida and as far away as a village in France where she teaches others the art of Pine-Cone quilt-making, which she learned from Miss Sue, a Sebring native. While Ford-Smith has been a gifted fashion designer, educator, and administrator, it is her collections and sharing her knowledge of their cultural significance and artistry that are her passion. She and her husband reside in Sebring.

Before Haitian flags were art, they were sacred objects.  Saint-Domingue, a French colony in the 1600s and 1700s now known as Haiti, is one of many places where Africans were brought as slaves. Like African slaves in the Americas, diversity of language and belief was common. Made of satin, velvet, or rayon, and adorned with sequins, beads, or appliqué, the flags began as religious symbols. A common symbol of Haitian flags is the Catholic Saint Jacques Majeur, recognized as a leader in the Haitian Revolution. Majeur is shown on these highly elaborate flags riding horseback, carrying a sword and banners. It was revolution that brought the enslaved together, religious belief and shared culture that has since bridged generations and distance.

Ford-Smith’s collection is an impressive exhibit that allows visitors to experience the beauty, intricate design and skill represented in each of the 52 flags on display. The flags, for the most part, measure 3’ x 3’, feature a geometric-designed border, and are fringed.

The museum is open Tuesdays – Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. for this exhibit (and 1 ½ hours before performances at the Highlands Lakeside Theatre, November 8 – 24), through December 28.  The museum is free and open to the public.

Please join us for the November 8, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Exhibit Opening Reception. 

Note: The museum will be closed November 28 and December 23 – 26 for holiday time with family.

PAST  EXHIBITS:

“Into the Wild” with Tom Sadler and Dave Kelly

Out of the heat and humidity of early autumn and “Into The Wild” oil painter Tom Sadler and folk artist Dave Kelly take us into nature through different approaches to the same subject. Whether your preference is for fine arts or craftsmanship, you’ll find something to love in this exhibit on display through November 2, 2019.  Sadler’s talent for capturing the light, color, and mood of the Central Florida Landscape has taken his talents to a new level. Previously showing in Luxembourg, the State Capitol in Tallahassee, and galleries throughout the South, Sadler’s stunning realism brings his audience into the scene – appreciating the serene beauty that is Florida.

Folk Artist Dave Kelly reminds us that art and craft sometimes come together to not only make ordinary individuals artists, but teachers as well as raw talent inspires and teaching takes place naturally. Kelly, originally from Georgia, brought his folk art to Florida a few years ago, transplanting his family and talents to the Central part of the Sunshine State. His work has appeared in museums, galleries, festivals, and at the Georgia State Capitol. Viewing himself not as an artist, but as a folk artist, Kelly’s self-taught discipline goes beyond the wood and canvas to showing children how to make their own mark on wood and on the art world.

Tom’s Bio

Dave Kelly’s Bio

“Common Connections”

Friday, August 2 – Saturday, September 15

What connects us as people, often connects artists as well. People. Places. Memories. Honoring the past. Recreating ourselves in the present. Viewing the future through new eyes. Join several of Highlands County’s talented artists in this rare juried MoTA show where those connections are revealed, on painting, one sketch, one photograph and sculpture at a time. The Highlands Art League artist-member exhibit brings to one gallery the talents of current local year ’round artists and photographers Kayla Chaput, Kevin Collier, Jean Cormier, Ellen Dixon, Cindy Rose Eaton, Norma Evans, Alice Hansen, Mary Lou Herald, Karisa Jessiman, Pam Jessiman, Marty Layne, Donald Lipps Jr., Ingrid Strope, and Michelle Weidner.  Also in the exhibit, posthumously, is Sebring artist Selene Spence, a life-long supporter and artist with the Highlands Art League. Spence is well-known for her watercolors and graphite drawings, just as she is for the kindness shown to others in and outside of the Arts community in Highlands County.

“Art From the Eyes of Love”: SHARYN LIGHTFOOT EXHIBIT

Wednesday, June 5th – Monday, July, 1st.   Artist Reception: Friday, June 7th 6-8pm.

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Back Water Delight

Born in Scranton Pennsylvania, Sharyn Lightfoot had a love for art and nature. She moved to Florida after graduating from high school. She is a self-taught artist, with a passion for pastel. Her first show, “Rambling: The Art of Sharyn Lightfoot,” was held in April 2014 at the Deltona Arts Center in Deltona, Florida.  She has received five Best In Show awards, a number of first, second, and third places, and numerous Merit awards. “I can’t stop looking!” To me, that is the most flattering compliment to hear from my artistic audience said, Sharyn.” We are honored to have Sharyn show her work this summer.

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Click here to view other Past Exhibitions


Highlands MOTA is located at the Allen C. Altvater Cultural Center, 351 West Center Ave., in Sebring, and is operated by the Highlands Art
League. 

Our July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018 Curator position was paid for by a generous grant from the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and National Endowment for the Arts

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