Visitors seeking cultural experiences to supplement the Florida Keys’ subtropical “fun and sun” lure will find arts offerings in virtually all genres. Enthusiasts can discover galleries from Key Largo to Key West, festivals that spotlight the island chain’s rich creative heritage, eclectic events that showcase the talents of local residents — and even gyotaku.
Artist Taylor Hale, a Florida Keys native raised in Key Largo, has come home. Hale is known for his stunning ethereal works of clouds and surreal scenes of the Keys’ natural world, mostly on and around the water. He recently unveiled an Islamorada gallery to display his artistry, with a second coming soon.
In the Florida Keys, it’s common for locals and savvy visitors to greet the news of some particularly offbeat happening by grinning and murmuring, “Only in the Keys.” The four-word phrase is a standard response by people hearing about everything from a costume contest for pets to mermaids attending a local music festival.
The legacy of Florida Keys sculptor Stanley Papio, a pioneer of recycled art, is being celebrated on Earth Day 2023 with a colorful people-powered parade of recycled and repurposed artistic creations. The Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade features sculptural floats with moving parts, decorated bicycles and other mobile works of art.
Danilo Alayon is a fifth-generation “Conch” born and raised in Key West, an avid diver, self-taught artist and proud grandson of the designer of Key West’s world-renowned Southernmost Point monument. Danilo has embraced a unique form of artistry: he converts old, nicked and rusty scuba tanks into sustainable and luminously colorful works.
The community of Marathon boasts a warm family-friendly flair and a variety of cozy inns, waterfront resorts, marinas and casual dining emporiums. The Middle Keys area also features plentiful creative spaces, natural attractions, scenic parks, trails, sightseeing spots and historic sites that make for an appealing blend of heritage, culture and nature.
Marine artist Lisa Lee Herman, owner of Gallery of the Arts Islamorada, is known throughout the Upper Keys for her gyotaku — the ancient Japanese art form for traditionally recording a catch. In fact, Herman greets her gyotaku-seeking clients, and the prized fish they want to preserve, at the dock following their angling excursions.
Visitors can discover Stock Island’s seafaring heritage, culinary diversity, community and unpretentious charm June 15-19 at the annual I Love Stock Island Festival. The family-friendly Father’s Day weekend fest is to blend food and libation offerings including the enticing ShrimpStock, art strolls, “dad-focused” fun, live music, a “dive-in” poolside movie and other events.
Known for creative, colorful, sometimes quirky artwork and a rich diversity of handcrafted artisan wares, the Florida Keys are internationally recognized for artistry inspired by stunning seascapes, landscapes and a light-drenched subtropical color palette. This season, the Keys feature fresh-air strolls that explore the matchless talent and fascinating work of skilled local artists.
In the 1970s and early 80s, Key West was a freewheeling seaport town whose residents included fishing guides, hobbyist pot smugglers, treasure hunters seeking 17th-century shipwrecks and some of America’s leading renegade writers. That fascinating era is memorialized in “Home at the End of the World,” a book lovingly curated by Rita Troxel.