Florida Keys News
Saturday, March 23, 2013
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Movie stars Reynolds, Dickinson, Hedren help open gallery

In the days before reality television and Twitter dictated star status, there was a fellow who played Gator McClusky on the big screen before he was The Bandit, and a lady who brought to life a police officer named Pepper Anderson.

But to Key West gallery owner and painter Adam Scott Rote, these screen legends are just Burt and Angie, friends and patrons of his "hyper realistic" work who arrived Friday night to help him christen his new gallery at 608 Duval St.

On Friday evening, Burt Reynolds, 77, and Angie Dickinson, 81, arrived by Rolls-Royce to Rote's gallery for an invitation-only party to honor the grand opening of Adam Scott Rote Galleries, which actually opened about two-and-a-half months ago.

Inside were paintings memorializing Reynolds' star turn in "Smokey and the Bandit," and Dickinson's in "Rio Bravo." Those had already been signed by the respective movie stars.

On Friday, both were whisked upstairs to an even more private party to sign Rote's painting that memorializes their work on 1969's Western-comedy "Sam Whiskey."

"What we'll be unveiling at the show is first time Angie and Burt have been together in years," said Rote in an interview earlier this week. "A rejoining of them. Angie will be signing 'Ocean's 11."

She was in the original 1960 heist movie that starred "Rat Pack" heavies Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.

But first, Reynolds and Dickinson met the first-floor attendees.

"She is really gorgeous; she took my breath away," said a 22-year-old woman from Fort Worth, Texas, who admitted she had called her mother earlier for a briefing on who exactly the two stars were.

Tippi Hedren, immortalized in Rote's paintings that depict her in the Hitchcock thrillers "The Birds" and "Marnie," also appeared at the Duval Street gallery.

The paintings are printed on "high definition" white gloss aluminum and then framed in brushed aluminum.

Rote sells them as hand-signed by the glamorous actor in the picture, and provides a "certificate of authenticity."

It's a very modern medium used to pay tribute to an almost golden era of celebrity, with Stella Stevens, Joan Fontaine, Esther Williams, Ernest Borgnine and Barbara Eden, among others.

One admirer described Rote's work as taking the past and presenting it through the eyes of the present.

"He's bringing us into the 'new,'" said Marti Peterson, a friend of Rote's who came from her home in Buffalo, N.Y., for the grand opening. Moments before, she had greeted the celebrity pair.

"You are so beautiful!" she told Dickinson, who won the Emmy for best actress in a drama for her "Police Woman" series that ran from 1974-1978.

Reynolds turned to Peterson and said, "Thank you."

"You're handsome," Peterson clarified.

"You are my Warhol," Dickinson has told Rote, she said Friday as she graciously stopped to pose with several star-struck party guests.

Reynolds did the same after Rote gave both a tour of his gallery's first floor. Seven artists total have work on display.

"Nancy," Reynolds greeted one fan as she excitedly went in for the close pose. "Nancy was my sister."

Reynolds said he admires Rote's paintings and was honored to be a guest of honor.

"I love Key West," said the Florida native, who wore a striking blue jacket and walked with a dapper black cane.

As Rote talked about lighting to Dickinson, she noted, "I was told by a cameraman that I absorbed the light."

Rote dismissed that as if it were an insult.

The painter, who first started a gallery on Duval Street in 1989, openly loves capturing such stars in their famous movie roles and bemoans the present day Kardashian-style celebrities as beyond disappointing.

"We literally have horrible representation," Rote said.

Rote credits the long-gone local drive-in movie theater on Stock Island as his inspiration for the series of paintings that include Dickinson and Reynolds.

"Drive-In Daze," includes screen shots of Reynolds' Bandit character, grinning and holding the CB radio receiver, as the bodies of classic cars sit as an audience. Another has a similar parking lot but the screen shot is "Rio Bravo."

"The Islander Drive-In on Stock Island," said Rote. "All this stems from me wanting to paint the famous drive-in."

Opened in 1953 and closed by the late 1980s, the Islander at one time boasted the largest movie screen in all of Florida.

Next for Rote is a series celebrating "The American Pin-up," he said, with plans to include Dickinson, Loni Anderson and Joan Collins.

His cinematic painting style reflects a passion for, without apology, searching for glamour and excitement, he said.

"We're on this earth for such a short period of time," said Rote. "I'm almost 50. My artists, we paint with a passion of what we want to do.

"We think it's a winning formula."

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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