KEY WEST, Fla. — Key West’s Fantasy Fest masking and costuming festival, famed for its outrageous party atmosphere, also offers a showcase for artists — including illustrators who capture the festival spirit in poster and T-shirt designs, world-class body painters who use the human form as their canvas and, this year, a local talent exhibiting immersive graffiti-inspired images. There’s even a self-guided art and bar stroll.
Visual artists contribute to Fantasy Fest in a variety of ways. Each year, festival organizers and the Florida Keys Council of the Arts issue a call to artists to submit designs for Fantasy Fest’s official poster and T-shirt. The 2019 winner for both is Los Angeles’ Pashur, a pioneer of modern body painting known for his breathtaking full-body creations. He will appear at Fantasy Fest for the 16th year to paint “living canvases” at Paradise Tattoo, 627 Duval St.
Pashur has traveled around the globe doing body-painting projects for clients including Cirque du Soleil, singer Nicki Minaj and Toyota. For Fantasy Fest, inspired by the festival theme “In Tune But … Off Key,” he incorporated musical elements, an exuberant color palette and Key West imagery ranging from the Mile Zero sign to a stylized conch shell.
Pashur will be recognized at the arts council’s official poster-signing party at Paradise Tattoo starting at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25. Admission is free and posters are to be available for sale.
Festival goers also can meet and be a “canvas” for Hollywood celebrity makeup artist “Captain” Ron Wolek, who will offer his custom artistry in hair, makeup and body design in the Beauty Garden next to Fairvilla, 524 Front St.
Wolek is widely acclaimed for his work on television’s “Stranger Things” and “The Vampire Diaries” as well as dozens of other television series, films and theater productions. His career credits also include a long tenure at Disneyland and work as a creature sculptor and designer at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
Appointments for “glitter and glamor” treatments with Wolek and his stellar crew are available between 11 a.m. and midnight Oct. 20-26.
Moving from glamor art to gallery art, Key West’s Jack McDonald is to display his colorful graffiti-inspired images in a Fantasy Fest exhibition titled “Master Slacker” at The Studios of Key West, 533 Eaton St.
McDonald is renowned for larger-than-life creations ranging from parade floats to theatrical sets. For his Studios exhibit, described as a vibrant immersive experience, he used spray paint, stencils and acrylic brush work to craft unique paintings inspired by street art.
Also on hand will be the crew from Wonderdog Studios, masterminds behind Fantasy Fest’s vivid graphics and creative spirit, who will turn the gallery into a workshop for fantasy costumes, props and other design delights.
“Master Slacker” is to be on view through Oct. 28.
For those who like cocktails with their culture, Fantasy Fest features a special treat: the BART bar and art crawl of the Key West Historic Seaport. The self-guided tour, one of the festival’s “daily diversions,” is an exploration of establishments, sculptures — including some by master talent John Martini — and unexpected or pop-up artistry between Duval and Grinnell streets.
Event information: fantasyfest.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
Key West’s Jack McDonald is to display his colorful graffiti-inspired images in a Fantasy Fest exhibition titled “Master Slacker” at The Studios of Key West. Image courtesy of Studios of Key West
McDonald is renowned for larger-than-life creations ranging from parade floats to theatrical sets. Image courtesy of Studios of Key West