"Hawksbill Reef" by Trish Pleasant is among works by six Florida Keys artists that were recently installed in a Key West pocket park. (Photo courtesy of the Florida Keys Council of the Arts)
- By: Laura Myers
- February 10, 2021
The Florida Keys & Key West, long recognized for supporting artistic, literary and creative endeavors, are known throughout the world as a vibrantly rich cultural destination.
Visitors can experience life like a local through Keys cultural arts — perhaps influenced by warm subtropical breezes, incredible architectural history and colorful scenery on islands surrounded by turquoise waters.
For example, a Key West pocket park, located at 1400 Duval St. between South Street and the Atlantic Ocean, is an outdoor venue for the city’s Art in Public Places program. It showcases six sculptures by artists Bill Lorraine, Trish Pleasant, Tim Marshall Curtis, Adam Russell, John Martini and Paola Effio.
What else is happening in the local cultural community?
The Key Largo Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center features a permanent exhibit of works by local talents who are members of the Art Guild of the Purple Isles. The pieces are each priced at under $150 and can be securely packed to take home. The center is located at 10600 Overseas Highway and is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
In Islamorada, Portside Studio & Gallery opened its larger gallery at 81888 Overseas Highway bayside (upstairs and behind Sotheby’s), relocated from its previous Morada Way location. The studio is owned by artist Valerie Perreault, creator of linocut and woodcut art with an island vibe. Exhibitions feature woodcut works reflecting the artist’s world. Other exhibits include oversized block prints, linocut collage work and a love letter to Islamorada. It’s open 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Also in Islamorada, the History of Diving Museum’s exhibit titled “Art of the Abyss,” running through March 17, features art, abyssal science and history through depictions created by Art Guild of the Purple Isles members and local high school students. Visitors are “transported” to the ocean floor to view paintings and whimsical sculptures. At 82990 Overseas Highway, the museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Marathon’s The Art Corner by resident artist Renee Anderson displays paintings, jewelry, pop art, resin casting and fused glass by local artists. Additional information can be found at the studio’s Facebook page @Art Corner. It’s open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the space “Signs by Renee” at 72 Coco Plum Drive. Call 305-743-5151.
On Stock Island, the Collections Key West gallery and Key West Woodworks, a custom woodworking shop for over 35 years, are located at 6810 Front St. down the dock from Hogfish restaurant. Collections Key West offers classical and modern paintings, kinetic sculpture, antiques, fine wood furniture, jewelry, collectibles and Cuban cigar leaf renderings. Key West Woodworks builds finely crafted goods made from local hardwoods, including Cuban mahogany, woman’s tongue, Jamaica dogwood, buttonwood and tamarind. They’re open weekends noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment.
Also on Stock Island, Washed Up Key West, a gallery, gift shop and local artist collective, is at 6475 2nd St., Bay One. Specializing in unique woodworking creations by gallery co-owner Kasidy Fritts, it also has a 60-by-8-foot mural wall. Also on-site are Made by Soto, featuring gold and silver jewelry by Nick Soto; Key West Island Art with “Conch villages” and paintings by co-owner Debi Fritts; and Concrete Ship Mercantile with modern macramé and fiber art by Kelly Raspa. It’s open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or by appointment and for special events.
Self-guided I Love Stock Island Art Strolls, on the second Saturday of each month, highlight eclectic shops and working studios. Participants can see multiple artists in disciplines from sculpture to woodworking, mosaic, screen printing, soap and fabric art. Strolls are slated Feb. 13, March 13 and April 10 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A two-hour Key West Art Walk, the Southernmost Gallery Tour led by Key West native Maxwell Irwin, takes art lovers to galleries — including the city’s oldest — and studios throughout the Historic Seaport district. Tickets are $30 per person and include bottled water.