Rex Art’s Matriarch, Rita Morris, Passes Away

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce Rita Morris’s passing on November 11, 2015.

Rita was a cornerstone in Rex Art’s history. Rita began working at Rex Art as a young woman with her husband Mel Morris in the 1950’s after her father, Joseph “Pop” Platt, started the fledgling business in 1950. Rita and Mel’s dedication to Rex were unparalleled. They lived, breathed, and were totally committed to their family’s business. In 1960, “Pop” retired and Mel and Rita took over the reins of the young company. Together they worked extremely hard, building Rex Art into one of the largest independently owned art suppliers in the United States. Rita and Mel were so successful that other art suppliers would regularly visit Rex Art to meet with Mel and Rita to see what they did, and how they did it in an effort to emulate their formula for success. They were pioneers in the art supply industry, and highly respected by their peers.

Rita’s personality was well suited to handle the day to day grind of accounting, billing, and office oversight, while Mel oversaw the “floor,” helping customers, working with employees, and finding the right mix of products for a young and growing Miami artistic environment. Together they were a dynamic duo, each person supporting the other with their unique mix of skills that ultimately forged a family business that would stand the test of time. Rita specifically had an amazing eye for the future and growth, but was always rooted with a conservative approach that kept Rex Art on a solid foundation. No doubt that Rita and Mel saw their share of good times, and enjoyed the fruits of their labor. However, all businesses are regularly challenged, and it was during the tougher times that Rita’s stewardship and skill really shined. Over the course of our history, many of the decisions she made and principals on which she based them, kept Rex Art alive and our family thriving.

In 1977, at the age of 9, I began coming into work at “the store” with my Dad, Aaron Morris. Aaron was Mel and Rita’s only child, and naturally, they wanted him to be a part of their other passion, Rex Art. My dad spent his youth and all his working years with his family at Rex. So it was only natural that his son would of course do the same. I spent every Saturday, and most of my summers from the age of 9 to 16 working at Rex Art. It was during these years of working at Rex that I really saw and understood the value of hard work. It was while working at Rex Art that I really got to know my whole family and Rita. Even though it was tough sometimes, I will always remember those moments fondly.

After returning from the University of Florida in 1993 I began working at Rex again. Things had changed a lot, and many of those changes had impacted our family. The advent of the computer had changed the landscape of art suppliers forever. Gone were the architectural, drafting, advertising, and design customers. All the materials they used to use were no longer required, and instead were replaced by personal computers and printers. By this time Rita and Mel, now in their 60s, were still there working everyday even though they had handed over the reins to my father many years before. Their love and passion for Rex was still as vibrant, and retirement was not something either of them ever entertained. It was also at this time that it was discovered that Mel had entered the early stages of Alzheimer’s. They call Alzheimer’s disease the long goodbye, and this was a very sad time for my family and Rex Art. Mel was a giant of a man. He stood 6′ 4″, and he had this booming voice and loved to laugh. If you didn’t see him, you certainly heard him coming. People loved him and his personality was infectious. To this day I still have people that ask about him. It was tough to watch him slowly disappear every day in the store he loved so much. All the while Rita and Aaron still worked, but took care of Mel personally to the highest degree. They never turned over his care to strangers. Rita was an amazing caregiver to Mel, and never left his side until he met his end in 1999.

After Mel’s passing, Rita once again re-focused herself on Rex Art. While my dad enjoyed running the store, he wanted to help foster the arts in a more direct way. While still at Rex Art, he formed the non-profit Cultural Development Group with his wife, Anna. CDG focuses on supporting the arts and in the early 2000s, he handed the business over to me to carry on for the next generation.

There were lots of changes through the years at Rex. Family, people and business came and went, but there was Rita – steady, constant, dedicated, and always there. It was during these years, that I forged the closest bond to Rita. By 2005 we had moved, and transitioned to just internet business and a custom framing shop run by my sister, Lisa. Rita came with us during the move and worked with me very closely. She was always there for us, and in the same role as she had – looking over the books, keeping a cautious eye, and sharing her wisdom with me and my sister. Of all the years I knew her, I really enjoyed the years I spent with her during 2005 – 2012 the most because I really valued her wisdom, guidance and help the most. By this time she was well into her 70s, and I was always impressed that she was there for me, my sister, and Rex Art. Her dedication to her family never wavered, nor did her dedication to Rex Art. I know there were days where she might not have felt well, or probably didn’t necessarily want to do what she was doing, but she always arrived with a smile and ready to help.

In 2006, Dylan Morris, my sister’s son and the 5th generation, started following in the family footsteps, and began coming to “the store.” Dylan and Rita formed an immediate bond, and I think that it was a very special time for both of them to enjoy each other’s company. One of the best things about a family business are the moments we get to share with each other that normally would not occur in our busy lives. Rita loved to see Dylan, and to be with him during his most formative years. It was certainly a blessing for our family, and I know that Dylan will always remember the wonderful times he spent with his “Nana” at Rex Art.

It was not until 2012, when Rita was in her 80s, that she came to me and told me that she had decided it was time to stop coming into Rex. She let me know that she would always be available to talk about business, but that it was too much for her to focus on it any longer. Now that she is gone, I know that she will be with us every day; that she and Mel are watching us, and the family business they spent their lives building, fostering, and supporting.

It is natural when someone you are close to passes, for you to spend a lot of time reflecting on the moments you shared with them. When I think about Rita, what comes to the forefront is her unwavering dedication, principled decision making, and persistence. I have no doubt that her influence helped shape me into the man I am. I am sure that many of my decisions are based in large part to the advice she provided me, or my observations of her, over the course of many years. I wish that I could thank her one more time for her years of sacrifice, dedication, hard work and guidance that she provided to all of us. Rita and Mel’s legacy have helped many of our family members and thousands of people that have shared in the history of Rex Art.

Of all the wonderful people and family members that I had the pleasure of working with over the course of close to the last 40 years, no one was more dedicated than Rita, and we will miss her greatly. I will always have the utmost respect for her. She was, and always will be, remembered for everything she gave, and everything she did for our family. Her spirit will forever be a part of our company and family. We are all better people for having been fortunate enough to have had her in our lives. Thank you Rita, you will never be forgotten….

Rex Art Sponsors Just My Height Art Shows

Rex Art Sponsors Just My Height Art Show

Rex Art Sponsors Just My Height Art Show

Rex Art was a proud sponsor of the Just My Height Art Show inaugural show, “The Writing On The Wall”. Just My Height Art Shows brings professional-quality, fine art to young children’s eye level by displaying it at just 36 inches high (or lower).

Rex Art Sponsors Just My Height Art Show

Rex Art Sponsors Just My Height Art Show

“The Writing on the Wall,” where all of the artwork is centered around the theme of letters and numbers, and to show your support for literacy in Miami-Dade County. Proceeds from the sale of artwork in the show and the raffle tickets will be donated to the Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Library, in support of Miami-Dade Public Library’s Project L.E.A.D. (Literacy for Every Adult in Dade).

Rex Art Sponsors Just My Height Art Show

Rex Art Sponsors Just My Height Art Show

The show will run at Pyramid Studios, 8890 SW 129th Terrace, Miami, FL, 33176, until Friday, February 27, 2015. There will be a closing party Friday, February 27, 2015 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you get the chance, go out and support this great show!

The Blank Canvas | Betsy Schoettlin, Guest Blogger

“It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”
Paul Cezanne

I’ve been buying art supplies for 30 years. Canvasses, canvas pads, tracing paper, acrylics, oils, mediums, brushes, pencils, pastels, graphite paper, smudge sticks, big easels, small easels, table easels, outdoor easels, the list goes on and on. I can’t even imagine how much money I have spent on my passion for painting.


And, up until now, I’d never touched a canvas with a brush. Or with anything else. For 30 years I have been buying and storing and then giving away, or otherwise disposing of, my art supplies without a single drawing or painting to show for it. One time I managed to get a sketch onto a canvas but was so dissatisfied with it that I erased it.

I’m not normally a fearful person. I regularly do things that are outside of my comfort zone, that stretch me beyond what I think I am truly capable of both physically and emotionally. Except painting. And yet, I keep buying art supplies.


In my mind, I have all sorts of reasons why I haven’t been able to paint. But the real reason is because I am afraid. Not that other people would see what I painted and be unimpressed. I am afraid that, if I actually put brush to canvas, I will know, finally, whether or not I can paint. So much better to not have tried, to be ready to try, to have the option to try, to not know.

And then I found a few painting apps and a real hold-in-your-hand-with-a-brush-end “paintbrush” for my iPad. In the digital world I could “paint” right on top of a photo or a drawing. The iPad felt like sort of like a canvas. I could hold it in my lap. And I could “undo” my mistakes. It was nearly free, no wasted oils or embarrassing failed canvasses. No struggling to get a sketch onto the canvas. I started painting on my iPad and it was amazing and fabulous. I experimented and played, and erased and deleted and started again. And again, and again. And every now and then, something came out pretty well. SO exciting. And there was no pressure, it was just playing. But I still didn’t paint.

Last spring I placed a big order at Rex Art for more art supplies. Again. Gorgeous, silky oils in beautiful little wooden boxes, luscious hand rolled pastels and some new paintbrushes (you can never have too many). I arranged them in a stately old bookcase, with the brushes artfully placed in a vintage pitcher. They looked fabulous. But I still didn’t paint.


Art supplies arranged on shelf. So pretty & pristine.

Have you ever jumped into a freezing cold lake or off of a high dive or cliff? You stand there, looking down, knowing you can do it, watching your 10 year old niece do it over and over, and yet every fiber of your being is focused on preventing you from jumping. So, for just a second, the blink of an eye, you shut down your brain, create a blank space, stop thinking, grab hold of a bit of faith, and step into the abyss. And when you hit the water you sink and it’s cold and you’re not sure if you can get back to the surface in time to breathe and then you do. And the water is viciously cold, but it’s a different kind of cold than you thought, bracing, exhilarating, survivable. And you did it.

A few weeks ago, I got a postcard from our local art center. I went to the website and I stood there on the cliff, staring down into the icy water as I had so very many times before. And I stepped off. I signed up for “Dare to Try: A Painting Workshop for the Complete Novice”. That was Monday, September 16th. The class started on Tuesday, the 17th. Which really wasn’t a problem because, hey, I already had a crap load of art supplies, beautifully arranged in my bookcase.

To be continued……

Rex Art Sponsors the SWAN Community Program

Happy artists

Everyone’s happy with a brush in her hand!

Rex Art was proud to supply the Spoken Soul Festival with paints and materials on March 22 for their annual SWAN Community Program.

Kids Painting

Everyone was completely absorbed in their artwork.

The SWAN Community Program gives the production team, sponsors and featured artists of the Spoken Soul Festival, a 3 day festival celebrating and supporting women artists, an opportunity to give back to the community by demonstrating to young girls and women empowerment through the arts. This year’s beneficiary was the Little Haiti Cultural Center’s Arts Afterschool program. The young artists (k-8), and participating SWAN artists created inspiring and encouraging poetry art to be donated to children affected by cancer throughout the South Florida’s community. Little Haiti Cultural Center’s mission is to provide a space that brings together people and ideas to promote, showcase and support Afro-Caribbean culture in South Florida.

Girls painting

Fun was had by all and creativity was flowing.

Everyone was thrilled to be creating beautiful pieces of art to bring a smile to a sick child, and hopefully contribute to that child’s health and wellness. Several SWAN artists volunteered before the event to sketch drawings on 5″ x 8″ canvas boards – the perfect size for a child to carry around for inspiration. Then the children and artists painted them in vibrant, cheery colors. Here are the results!

All the Paintings

Here are all the paintings. There was a lot of art going on that day!


Some great paintings going to children affected with cancer. Hope they bring some cheer!

Some great paintings going to children affected with cancer. Hope they bring some cheer!

Rex Artist, Alex Vidales, Shares His Latest Artwork

Alex Vidales’s Marilyn

Another fantastic Rex Artist, Alex Vidales, wanted to share how he uses our creative products. It makes our day when we get to see how our products are used, and our customer’s beautiful artwork. You can see Alex’s most recent artwork by visiting his website. Alex, great work! Please keep us up to date with your newest pieces!

Rex Artist, Elena Kariyannis, Shares Her Latest Artwork



We love it when our customers share their creative visions with us, and we get to see how they use the products we sell. Check out Rex Art customer Elena Kariyannis, aka “Erocksny” site, and her wonderful artwork!



Interesting Question from a Rex Art Customer

Here is an interesting customer inquiry we received recently….

Lee asked us:

I came across your website and it seems like you might know what I need. I am a teacher and one of my students was the class valedictorian this year. I am making her a “book plaque“. It is basically a leather bound book, opened to the center and her speech is pasted on the two center pages. The rest of the book has been glued together with the corners bent and it has been painted with tea and coffee to make it look really old. I would now like to paint the entire book with something to seal it so it becomes “hard“ without damaging the book. Do you know what I would need to do that. Thank you for your help.

Our Reply:

Hi Lee,

Thank you for your inquiry. Great project, and it sounds very interesting.

From your description your first option would be to use a decoupage sealer like the Mod Podge shown here:
Mod Podge

Plaid Mod Podge

Plaid Mod Podge

Now, one of your problems might be that the tea or coffee could react with a liquid sealer because they are water soluble. You might need to apply several light coats of a spray fixative to the surface first to create a barrier, and then apply the sealer once a few coats of a fixative has been applied. Suggested fixatives would be the following:

Also, Mod Podge is designed to be used in a single coat or can be coated several times to create a thicker or harder surface. However, another alternative might be to use a Gel Medium like the following in either a matte or gloss sheen. The gel medium is thicker from the get go and would result in a thicker or harder surface once applied.
Liquitex Matte Medium
Liquitex Gloss Medium

Liquitex Matte Gel Medium

Liquitex Matte Gel Medium

Lastly, since your application is a bit experimental with the use of coffee and tea you should test the application first before proceeding to do the book as I am sure you do not wish to ruin all the work you have done so far.

We hope this information helps! Please do share a picture with us once you have finished your project!

Please let us know how we can assist you further.

Thank you,

Syfys FACE OFF | Now Casting!!!

Here is some cool information to apply for Syfy’s sfx competition:

Face Off, Syfy’s critically acclaimed sfx competition show, is bringing much deserved attention to the special effects community and the amazing work performed by these very talented individuals.

We are, once again, looking for sfx artists to be a part of the show. Please help us spread the word. The application and additional casting info is below. We are accepting video submissions until Wednesday, February 22nd.

I would like to thank you in advance for getting this information to the next potential contestant for the show.

If you are a sfx artists, I would like to take this opportunity to personally invite you to be a contestant on Face Off. As you may know, FO is designed for sfx artists of ALL skill levels. From the seasoned veteran to the green newbie, we want everyone to apply for the show. This is your opportunity to be a part of an amazing show designed especially for you.

You can download the application and see previous episode of season 2 on the link below.

Syfy’s Face Off / Casting Info

Thanks and GOOD LUCK!

1. Completed applications and online video submission materials must be received by Wednesday,
February 22, 2012 at 6:00pm ET – 3:00pm PST to be considered. Remember, the earlier the better.

2. If you are selected as a Semi-Finalist for the show you must be available to fly to Los Angeles for
final interviews from approximately March 4, 2012 to March 9, 2012. (We will cover your food,
hotel and travel) (Dates are subject to change)

3. If selected as a final cast member you must be available to tape the show from approximately April
24, 2012 through June 22, 2012 (Dates are subject to change)

Stan Lees WORLD OF HEROES T-Shirt Design Challenge

Here is some cool news we just received, but hurry the deadline is quickly approaching! Happy T-Day everybody.

Stan Lee's "WORLD OF HEROES" T-Shirt Design Challenge

Stan Lee's "WORLD OF HEROES" T-Shirt Design Challenge

The formal President of Marvel Comics is teaming up with online community MASScanvas, encouraging fans to design and illustrate “HERO-themed” T-shirts. Anyone can enter! The prize is a total of $5000 and a portion of the sale of winning T-shirts will benefit the John Wayne Cancer Institute.

Through Sunday, November 27th, anybody can submit designs for the ‘WORLD OF HEROES’ challenge at ALL entries will be featured on, the only requirement being they reflect the theme of “WORLD OF HEROES.” Entrants and fans can comment on designs throughout the challenge and VOTE for the top 20 designs. On December 8, Stan Lee will choose 5 winning tees (each receiving a $1,000 cash prize), from the top 20, that he feels best represent the theme. The 5 winning tees will be custom printed in limited quantity, individually hand-numbered, and sold in support of the charitable cause.

Here’s a video with a bit more info about the contest:
YouTube Preview Image

A Call to Artists from the Social Butterfly Foundation

Here is a call to artists we just received from the Social Butterfly Foundation:

Call to Artists:

We are currently accepting resumes for artists in visual, literary, performing and media arts for participation in 4 exciting Saturday Art workshops sponsored by UBS. Mentors will be instrumental in each child’s artistic development as they work together to increase their awareness and understanding of art, the processes of creativity, and community involvement. Art Showcase opportunity surrounding UBS Miami Art Basel Events in December.

Program Duration: September – December 2011
Applicants must have: an arts centered education and training, experience with exhibitions and performances, experience working with Youth-at Risk, and excellent communication skills.

Send inquires and resumes to:

About the Social Butterfly Foundation:

Social Butterfly Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization established to enrich the lives of children in foster care with a Cultural Arts youth mentoring. Our 5 Step Enrichment Program fosters relationships that create stability and caring relationships with mentees using cultural arts appreciation and social skills development as our platform. These are areas that we feel are instrumental to each child’s success and social metamorphosis by building Self development, teaching Social Etiquette, and infusing cultural arts awareness. Our partnerships with our cultural arts community provides a vehicle to allow mentees to experience and appreciate our wonderful world of cultural arts, allow them to use the Arts as a canvas for expression, become enriched and have the confidence of belonging, interacting, and demonstrating Social Skills developed within our program and most important addressing the fundamental need for close and caring relationships.