FLORIDA KEYS — The Florida Keys are acclaimed for their large population of visual artists, but art lovers generally can’t see works by several hundred of them at one time. Except, that is, when viewing “The Connections Project 2019: A Mosaic of the Keys,” a 24-foot-long mural that’s touring the island chain to celebrate the connection between community members and local cultural initiatives.
The large-scale mosaic mural, spearheaded by the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, features art by more than 300 Florida Keys artists and arts supporters. It debuted Jan. 23 at the Murray Nelson Government & Cultural Center in Key Largo, and through May embarks on a “road show” tour throughout the Keys.
According to Elizabeth Young, the arts council’s executive director, the mural is made up of individual canvases measuring 6 inches square that were provided free to local professional artists and creative residents.
“We have three-dimensional pieces, painted pieces, photography pieces, mixed media and much more,” said Young of the individual canvases. “It’s a great example of arts and community awareness — connecting the Keys to a vibrant arts and culture community and to our audiences up and down the Keys.”
Many canvases portray elements from the island chain’s richly diverse environment, visually connecting viewers to the region’s natural world as well as its artistic one.
At each new stop during the mural’s Keyswide tour, visiting and resident art lovers can enjoy a free opening reception. Receptions are scheduled 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Upcoming exhibition opening dates and venues are Feb. 12 at Royal Furniture in Marathon, March 1 at Marathon’s Shady Palm Gallery, March 15 at Big Pine Key’s Artists in Paradise Gallery, April 9 at Royal Furniture in Key West and May 3 at the Gato Building in Key West.
After viewing the Connections Project mural, art lovers can make a permanent connection by adding pieces of it to their collection. Patrons can make a $50 donation for one canvas or a $125 donation for three at any reception or online at keysarts.com.
Once the road show has ended, donors will receive randomly selected pieces of the mosaic by mail. Each piece is to include an artist statement providing insight into the work and the artist’s inspiration.
Proceeds from the Connections Project benefit Keys artists and arts organizations through arts council grants including the new “Art Builds Community” program focused on cultural equity.
Connections Project information: keysarts.com or 305-295-4369
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY