Art In Public Places
Outdoor artistry flourishes in the island chain, from offbeat large-scale sculptures to murals promoting ocean conservation.
Some prime examples can be spotted along the Overseas Highway as roadside creations depicting the area’s abundant marine life or even and outdoor mural on the exterior of the departures terminal at the Key West International Airport.
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The Florida Keys are home to South Florida’s only nonprofit, independent film multiplex. Located in Key West, the Tropic Cinema schedules contemporary, classics, Cinematheque, independent, foreign and alternative movies in digital and 35mm format.
The Key West Film Festival showcases films that exhibit excellence in storytelling and capture the islands’ essence: creativity, diversity, sustainability, and beauty.
Other unique viewing options include the Marathon and Key West libraries and the 40-seat theater inside the Keys History and Discovery Center in Islamorada.
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The Art Studio
Works of visual artists can be found in galleries literally from one end of the Keys to the other.
Resident artist staff at Marathon’s The Art Studio offer workshops and classes to learn painting in oil, watercolors and acrylic, sculpting, throwing clay, fusing glass, creating jewelry and painting and glazing self-selected ceramics.
Monthly neighborhood art strolls in Islamorada and Key West spotlight the work of established artists and nurture the growth of emerging talents.
Morada Way Arts & Cultural District
In Islamorada, the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District’s “walkabout” occurs the third Thursday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m., featuring indoor galleries and outdoor artisans staged at Morada Way between mile markers (MM) 81 and 82.
Walk on White
Key West’s Walk on White is held on White Street from Southard to United streets and onto Truman Avenue the third Thursday of each month. The popular evening features exhibitions and receptions at galleries and shops.
Explore Key West galleries, boutiques and food and wine emporiums during the Upper Duval Street Stroll, usually the first Friday of each month.
Caroline and Greene streets and the Historic Seaport neighborhood form the lively Art and Ambiance Walks spotlighting galleries and merchants the first Thursday of each month.
The Studios of Key West exhibits contemporary art and hosts rotating gallery exhibits as part of Key West’s monthly art strolls as well as offers classes, lectures, performances, gallery exhibits, partnership projects and special events.
Discover the Florida Keys’ ‘Connections Project’
"The Connections Project: A Mosaic of the Keys" is a large-scale mural created by several hundred Florida Keys artists and arts supporters. Spearheaded by the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, the mural tours the island chain to celebrate the community's cultural connection.
The unique creation is made up of small individual canvases that were provided to Keys artists and residents to design and embellish, with the completed pieces arranged into the colorful whole.
Through May 10, 2021, the mural can be viewed by art lovers during a "road show" tour of the Keys.
Subsequent exhibition dates and venues continue now through May 3 at Big Pine Key’s Artists in Paradise Gallery, and culminating May 4-18 at Key West’s Royal Furniture.
While the entire mosaic mural travels the Florida Keys, click through the gallery below to preview 30 selected individual canvases.
Artist: Carlene Shedd
Artist: Billy Cartledge
Artist: Sisi Hernandez
Artist: Diana Bennett
Artist: Marilyn Strominger
Artist: Janice Nagel
Artist: Ruth Kaczmarek
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Visitors interested in literature can find both history and inspiration in Key West.
An exhibit in Key West memorializing iconic playwright Tennessee Williams, who called the island home from the late 1940s until his death in 1983, has expanded to become the Tennessee Williams Museum, located at 513 Truman Ave., and open daily.
Robert Frost was a frequent visitor, and served as U.S. poet laureate in 1958-59. Frost first visited Key West in 1934 and wrote one of his best-known poems, “The Gift Outright,” on the island.
Ernest Hemingway produced some of his finest work during his decade-long residence in the 907 Whitehead St. home that is now open for tours. Ernest Hemingway was the first popular author to make Key West his home.
Leading contemporary writers from throughout the United States and abroad gather together in Key West to share insights with lovers of literature at the annual Key West Literary Seminar.
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While many Florida Keys locales are well known and well traveled, visitors often overlook an array of hidden treasures. Exploring the region’s environmental and historic attractions can deepen an enjoyment of the Keys’ colorful culture and character — particularly for artists and writers seeking pristine natural locations and landscapes to spark their creativity.
A registered national historic landmark, the Hemingway Home and Museum offers guided tours of the author’s home, writing studio and Key West’s first swimming pool. The six-toed cats which roam the grounds are descendants of Hemingway’s pets.
And a number of other historical museums and attractions such as Audubon House & Tropical Gardens and the Key West Art & History Museum at the Custom House draw visitors who seek a cultural experience.
Adderley House (Photo courtesy of Crane Point)
More Key West Museums
Tucked away in Marathon is the 63-acre Crane Point Museum and Nature Center, once the site of a Bahamian village. Highlights include the Museum of Natural History; a gift shop; nature trails; Adderley House, one of the oldest homes in the Keys outside of Key West; the Marathon Wild Bird Center; and a flight habitat.
In Islamorada, exhibits inside the Keys History & Discovery Center incorporate the first Florida Keys inhabitants, shipwrecks and salvage, Keys pioneering families, sport fishing legends, Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad and a new three-aquarium permanent exhibit, Florida’s Coral Reefs, that explores the island chain’s ecosystems through conservation and sustainable use. Traveling exhibits reflect upon nature, art or history of the Keys.
History of Diving Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving and displaying artifacts, antiques and photographs relative to diving and its heritage. Tour the earliest diving machines, including a full-scale replica of an all-wood diving bell and 25 historic hard-hat dive helmets from around the world in the Parade of Nations exhibit. This one-of-a-kind attraction is also a valuable educational resource with a monthly “Immerse Yourself” free lecture series.
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Photo by Jaqlin Medlock
Keys-wide studios offer classes and lessons including line dancing, tap, jazz, salsa, swing, ballroom, contemporary, Celtic and more. Amateur and professional dancers also perform throughout the Keys. Dance Key West creates seasonal original, evening-length shows at local theaters, parks and events of Key West, and coordinates community outreach dance programs.
Enjoy Keys-wide musicals, comedies and direct-from-Broadway productions.
Key Largo’s Key Players community theater troupe produces 3-4 shows per season in different Upper Keys venues.
Marathon Community Theater began as a small community group in 1944 and garners its performers from a talented pool of local residents. The theater is located at 5101 Overseas Highway, MM 49.5 oceanside.
Key West Theater presents original plays, musicals, films, concerts at its location at 512 Eaton St.
A cultural cornerstone of Key West at 319 Duval St., Red Barn Theatre has built a national reputation for creating BIG things in a small space.
Tennessee Williams Theatre hosts regular productions by visiting and resident professional music and theatre companies.
The intimate, 150-seat Waterfront Playhouse has entertained audiences in Key West over 75 years, at 310 Wall St. adjacent to Key West’s Mallory Square. When the sun sets, the curtain rises at the Waterfront Playhouse.
The eclectic Key West Fringe Theater presents a lively season with “immersion” performances in various non-theater settings chosen to complement each production.
The Studios of Key West’s 200-seat auditorium includes cutting edge live concerts, dance, performance art, theatrical productions, burlesque, circus arts and acrobatics.
Islamorada Community Entertainment offers exceptional classical and contemporary musical performances, including live jam sessions, reggae and bluegrass festivals throughout the year at Founders Park, mile marker (MM) 87 bayside in Islamorada.
Florida Keys Community Concert Band presents an entire Pops in the Park season of free admission, specially-themed outdoor concerts at Founders Park in Islamorada as well as in Key Largo.
The Florida Keys Concert Association is a volunteer, not-for-profit organization that holds seasonal Monday evening classical music concerts in the Middle and Upper Keys.
Impromptu Classical Concerts of Key West provides superb classical music concerts at the most affordable prices possible, for the appreciation and enjoyment of the entire community. Their roster includes internationally acclaimed performers and up and coming virtuosos.
Key West’s new Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater seats 500 in a 2,400-square-foot band shell, located at 21 Quay Road in Truman Waterfront Park. The park borders Truman Annex and the entrance to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.
Key West Theater presents yearlong live concerts, comedy shows and musicals at its performing arts venue at 512 Eaton St.
Tennessee Williams Theatre hosts regular productions by visiting and resident professional music and theatre companies, including the South Florida Symphony, a unique gathering of professional musicians from around the United States guided by nationally recognized conductor and Key West native Sebrina Maria Alfonso.
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For more information please contact:
Florida Keys Council of the Arts
1100 Simonton Street, Key West, FL 33040