Nashville artist creates 'Mister Rogers' portrait with items from the Fred Rogers archive and wife

Posted at 7:24 AM, May 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-08 13:26:46-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A portrait of America's beloved public television figure, Mister Rogers, is touring the country. And the artist lives right here in our own Nashville neighborhood!

Wayne Brezinka is a Nashville artist and a fan of Fred Rogers. Like so many fans, he saw the documentary, 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?'

"And I was so taken with how Mister Rogers posed the question to a young child and that is, 'Would you like to tell me about this?'"

Brezinka works with mixed media.

"Acrylic, cardboard," he said.

Cutting, pasting and painting he creates eclectic portraits. On a whim, he reached out to the Fred Rogers Company and was shocked and overjoyed when they gave him the green light to create an original portrait.

"They said, 'We would be glad to grant your permission to create this portrait,'" he said.

Not only permission, but a box of old cassettes, records and pictures, news-clipping, even a pair of Fred's glasses.

Using the vintage items and artifacts from the archives of Fred Rogers he pieced together a work of art.

Then he got an unexpected call, from Joanne Rogers, who had been married to Fred for 50-years.

"It was a number I didn't recognize so I picked it up and the voice on the other end was, 'Hi, this is Joanne Rogers' and my heart skipped a beat. I was extremely excited and she was so pleasant and kind and warm. She's 91-years-old," he said.

Joanne Rogers sent him two additional bow ties, a handwritten note and several pictures of Fred as a young boy - now also a part of the work.

Currently, the portrait is hanging at PBS's corporate headquarters, but soon it will make its way to Nashville.

He hopes people look at the work the way Mister Rogers looked at us.

"So it's how we see one another but more importantly how we see ourselves," Brezinka said.

The piece will be on tour through 2020. To see it in-person you can stop by the Omni Hotel in Nashville on May 30th from 6:00 to 8:30pm. The event is free and open to the public. The portrait will only be on-display for only one day before it moves on. Click here for more information.

PBS - The Shops Level / Arlington, VA
2100 Crystal Dr, Arlington, VA 22202
On display until MAY 31, 2019

The Fred Rogers Center / Latrobe, PA
Saint Vincent College, Monastery Rd, Latrobe, PA 15650
JUNE to AUGUST, 2019

WQED PBS Affiliate / Pittsburgh, PA
WQED Multimedia 4802 5th Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA
616 N Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Crayola Experience, Easton, PA
30 Centre Square, Easton, PA 18042
JUNE to AUGUST, 2020