Award-winning artist’s eclectic works on display for Black History Month
Rose Jefferson found the inspiration to seriously pursue art in her mother’s dying words.
Jefferson, who had dabbled in art all her life, was having trouble adjusting to life in Florida after having moved from San Francisco with her husband, Carl, and son, Mike, in 1993. When her mother fell ill in 1999, Jefferson became her caregiver. Her mother, a former schoolteacher, sensed her daughter’s unhappiness.
“In our last conversation before she slipped into a coma, my mother told me, ‘You have such a beautiful gift and I think if you picked up a brush and started painting, you would find your happiness,’ ” said Jefferson, a Suntree resident. “When she did pass away with her family by her side, I actually sketched her in my journal because she looked so peaceful. And from then on, I did exactly what she had suggested. I picked up that paint brush.”
Jefferson’s talents as an artist have led to her works being displayed in the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee and in art galleries throughout South and Central Florida and in Georgia. In honor of Black History Month, about 25 of the Louisiana native’s works will be on display at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne in a solo exhibition called “Eclectic Me.” Visitors with tickets to King Center events can view her artwork from Feb. 2 through March 1.
“Eclectic Me” will feature the self-taught artist’s colorful, expressive portraits and figures in a variety of media, from oil to mixed media to acrylic to watercolor.
“I do it all,” she said. “I guess I’m trying to make up for lost time.”
Jefferson got her first taste of artistic success after enduring a difficult time in her life. While her son was deployed in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, Jefferson would paint portraits of him to relieve her stress and anxiety. A friend urged her to enter one of those portraits, “Flight of the Capoeira,” in the Orlando Museum of Art’s First Thursday Art Exhibition, with a solo exhibition in the museum’s gift gallery as a prize for the winner.
“I couldn’t believe it. I won first place,” she said. “And it went on from there. I got my courage up, my confidence up. I realized I may have something here, and that I should try to do this.”
In February 2014, Jefferson’s painting “Flowers in the Garden” was chosen to hang in the Governor’s Mansion to celebrate Black History Month. Jefferson met Gov. Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott at a reception.
“It was an awesome, honorable experience,” she said. “The governor and his wife were very personable, very warm.”
That honor led to this month’s King Center exhibition for Jefferson, whose most recent award came in November when she won honorable mention at the Artists Registry Members’ annual exhibition at City Arts Factory in Orlando, an event that featured the works of about 70 artists.
In March, “Eclectic Me” will be on display at downtown Eau Gallie’s Off Center Art Gallery, where Jefferson is a member.
“The art district is really growing,” said Jefferson, who is also a member of the Brevard Cultural Alliance. “I’m looking forward to being a part of Brevard’s art community.”
For more information and to view more of Jefferson’s artwork, go to rosejeffersonart.com.