"Painting the Keys" experiences, led by Key Largo artist Jessica Ann Hessing, offer visitors an intriguing way to immerse themselves in the Florida Keys art scene and explore their own creativity.
- By: Laura Myers
- February 5, 2020
Artists are drawn to the Florida Keys because of the richly colorful natural scenery and the intensely creative spirit that’s evident from Key Largo to Key West. And visitors can find plenty of unusual ways to savor that artistry throughout the island chain.
Seeking new or enticing art events, strolls or classes? Explore the ones here.
Prime among popular Florida Keys art strolls is Islamorada’s Third Thursday Art Walk in the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District. National and Keys-based artists are showcased in a six-block corridor at Morada Way between mile markers 81 and 82 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. The monthly event also blends culinary art from local eateries and performances by local musicians and entertainers. Stops include the Redbone and Pasta Pantaleo Signature galleries — each housing collections of Florida’s offshore and inshore saltwater fishing art. Other venues include Portside Studio, HOLA and Elena Madden galleries.
In Marathon, Banana Bay Resort & Marina hosts a lively new event on the last Sunday afternoon of each month to showcase Keys art, crafts, jewelry and food. The Banana Bay Bazaar is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. at The Pointe, the property’s bayside sunset bar. Attractions include local art, wares, music, food trucks, drinks and free parking. FYI, Banana Bay is located at mile marker 45.9 bayside.
And if you’re near the Lower Keys at the end of February, check out Painting the Keys’ class Wednesday, Feb. 26 — where students can paint the delicious Keys fish, the yellowtail. Held at the Big Pine Key Moose Lodge at 21 Wilder Road, the class features a “fun design that connects when placed with the body of one fish to the tail of the next fish.” Created for the Friends of Bahia Honda organization, the class is taught by artist Jessica Ann Hessing of Key Largo. Prices are $35 to paint on canvas and $40 to paint on wood. Painting the Keys offers activities such as paint nights, paint night in a box and private parties — all sure to be great fun.
Also in the Lower Keys, Stock Island’s exciting new Stock Island Arts District has launched Second Saturday Art Strolls scheduled 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April, and each one features eclectic shops and working studios marked by bright pink “Arts District” banners. The district includes the 16 artist studios of Stockyard Studios, Green Pineapple at The Perry Hotel Key West and The Studios at Stock Island Marina Village. Plus The Art Shack’s 5,000-square-foot compound is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. There you’ll find shipping container workshops housing six resident artists and a gallery showcasing 19 local artists who work in various disciplines. Don’t miss it!
Key West Art Center, celebrating its 60th anniversary as the island’s oldest art gallery, offers a “Sip and Create” series of classes guided by experienced art instructors. Classes are taught in various mediums and students can embrace creative pursuits such as painting a buoy, making a resin bracelet or weaving a pine needle basket. Evening classes are scheduled Feb. 6 and 27, March 5 and April 2 and 23. Materials are provided. The center is located in a historic wooden building at 301 Front St.
Key West galleries, boutiques and eateries in the area known as “The Fabulous 500 Block of Fleming Street” have kicked off a monthly First Fridays on Fleming block party. The next First Fridays are scheduled Feb. 7, March 6 and April 3 from 6-9 p.m. — with events such as art openings, jewelry trunk shows, book signings, tastings and libations. Participants range from Key West Local Luxe Jewelry and Duck & Dolphin Antiques to food venues La Petite Grignote French Bakery and the Thirsty Mermaid.