Artist Welcomes Newcomers to Wilkes-Barre in a Way You’d Never Expect

WILKES-BARRE -- In a dimly lit basement in Wilkes-Barre, artist Rob Hoyt is making something truly remarkable.

"This machine has been a godsend," Rob said.

Using a digital magnifier called an Esenbach Visolux, he has the power to paint the mountain scene he sees in his imagination.

It's something that some people might take for granted.

"I was officially declared legally blind in 2012," Rob said.

Rob was 48 years old when he was his vision began to drop to 300/20.

He developed what is called ischemic optic neuropathy because of unmanaged type 1 diabetes. He even had a near-death experience because of congestive heart failure.

Through it all, Rob still saw a reason to believe in himself.

"When I lost my eyes, it didn't mean I lost my mind or I lost my intelligence. People with disabilities can still do something amazing," Rob said.

Before he was blind, Rob never even picked up a paint brush.

However, since March of this year, he has made more than 90 works of art and he has given them out to local businesses for free.

He said he was inspired by TV show host and painter Bob Ross.

"I started watching and it gave me a better sense for my own mental health, my own spirit, and the rest is history. It's taken on a life of its own," Rob said.

His work hangs in stores all across Wilkes-Barre. The Golden Star, Bedwick Foods, and Healthy Hair Beauty Salon all have personal pieces from Rob.

"It has my name and my shop. It has the logo, the beauty name," Alexandra Lake, owner of Healthy Hair Beauty Salon said.

Lake moved to Wilkes-Barre six years ago from the Dominican Republic. Rob's painting meant the world to her.

"I was so happy when I saw the painting with my logo and saying, 'Go straight to Alex.' That means a lot," Lake said with a smile.

Rob's doctors said someday he will most likely be completely blind. For now, he is doing what he can with what he has.

"We need to show each other compassion. We need to realize that nobody here is free of struggle," Rob said.

To purchase some of Rob's work, you can contact him at smartenupnow88@aol.com.