FLORIDA KEYS — The Florida Keys are renowned for having a large population of visual artists, while creative spirits from other places come to experience the ever-changing tropical light and depict a uniquely engaging locale.
Visitors seeking fine artwork can find it throughout the island chain. As well as being displayed in galleries from Key Largo to Key West, distinctive artistry can be seen in public buildings and spaces, art shows, outdoor markets and exhibitions.
Among the 2019 season’s offerings are four showcases of images by artists ranging from members of the Keys’ vibrant creative community to those born in neighboring Cuba.
Explore Visions of Cuba. People eager to sample the spirit and ambiance of the island that lies just 90 miles from Key West can do so during a distinctive art exhibition titled “Visions of Cuba.”
The longstanding cultural connection between Key West and Cuba comes alive in the exhibit, which features contemporary creations by more than 50 prominent Cuban artists who now live in locations around the world.
Fittingly, the venue for “Visions of Cuba” is the historic Gato Building at 1100 Simonton St. The imposing structure was originally a prominent cigar factory where a large team of skilled Cuban workers produced tens of thousands of cigars each day.
The unique exhibit is presented by the Florida Keys Council of the Arts and curated by Alaen Ledesma Fernandez.
Many of the talents whose pieces are included attended Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte, Cuba’s leading art academy, and have participated in the prestigious Havana Biennial. Among the featured artists are Aurelio Mileno, Sandra Rodriguez and Emmanuel Diaz.
“Visions of Cuba” continues until April 18. For more information, visit keysarts.com.
Enjoy Watercolor Wonders. Images in watercolor, acrylic and more are to be showcased during the Florida Keys Watercolor Society’s 37th annual judged exhibition. The show is presented at the Marathon Community Theatre, 5101 Overseas Highway, with an opening reception set for 5-7 p.m. Sunday, March 3.
The exhibit opens for daytime viewing Thursday, March 7, and can be seen from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday through April 6. Society member artists will be at the theater to hand out programs and discuss the work with show attendees.
The artistry also can be viewed before the curtain rises and during intermission on the evenings of the Marathon Community Theatre’s production of “La Cage aux Folles,” which coincides with the exhibit.
Artwork is for sale with 20 percent of the purchase price donated to the theater. In addition, art lovers can purchase tickets for a chance to win one of two original framed watercolors donated by acclaimed artists Nancy Murphree Davis and Charles Passarelli. The drawing is set for Wednesday, April 10, and ticket holders need not be present to win. For more information, visit fkwcs.com.
Discover the Connections Project Mural. A 24-foot mosaic mural featuring art by more than 300 Florida Keys artists and arts supporters debuted in late January, and it’s touring the island chain to celebrate the connection between the community and local cultural initiatives.
The Connections Project mural, spearheaded by the Florida Keys Council of the Arts and titled "A Mosaic of the Keys," began its tour in Key Largo. Subsequently it travels to Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and finally Key West, with a reception celebrating its arrival at each display site.
The mural is made up of individual canvases measuring 6 inches square — all provided to local professional artists and creative residents for them to adorn as they chose. The completed canvases feature art in mediums including painting, photography, mixed media and three-dimensional construction.
Once the Connections Project tour is over in May, art lovers can acquire individual canvases through a unique “random choice” purchase process. Proceeds benefit Keys artists and arts organizations through the council’s grants including the new “Art Builds Community” program focused on cultural equity.
For information including a schedule of tour dates and locations, visit keysarts.com.
View Purple Isles Artistry. The Art Guild of the Purple Isles presents its annual show Wednesdays through Sundays, March 6-24, at the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center at the Islander Resort, mile marker 82 in Islamorada. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission to the center is free for those attending.
The exhibition features several dozen images in acrylic, oils, watercolor, pastels, photography, digital art and other media. Plein air painting is included as well.
The acclaimed Upper Keys fine arts guild held its first show in 1968 and currently has more than 100 members. Its activities include supporting youth art education and working to make art a significant part of the local community and lifestyle. For more information, visit agpi.us.
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS