KEY WEST, Fla. — A people-powered parade of colorful mobile sculptures is to roll through Key West’s historic downtown Saturday, April 4, intended to intrigue and inspire fans of creative recycling and “outsider” art.
The family-friendly Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade kicks off at noon at Key West’s Custom House Museum, 281 Front St. It commemorates the late Key Largo folk artist Stanley Papio, a renegade metal sculptor and recycled-art pioneer whose welded works incorporated discarded car parts, appliances, pipes, wire and other seemingly useless items.
“Stanley Papio’s art was all found objects. Most people called it junk, but to him, it was his next future piece of art,” said Michael Gieda, executive director of the Key West Art & Historical Society, which stages the annual procession.
The parade features colorful sculptural floats with moving parts, elaborately decorated bicycles, tricked-out tricycles and other offbeat mobile masterpieces. Powered by human effort alone, they follow a route up Key West’s Duval Street.
In the spirit of Papio, most parade participants incorporate recycled and repurposed materials into their entries.
Standout creations in the 2019 procession included a vintage yellow race car whose engine was made of discarded plumbing parts, a prowling 30-foot-long iguana with spines crafted from scrap cardboard and a giant duck with recycled paper “feathers.”
“The event is an artistic, creative way to raise awareness about the legacy and the importance of artists in the Florida Keys while using recycling as a key component,” said Gieda.Co-produced by Wonderdog Studios, Saturday’s parade is to be followed by an awards ceremony and celebration at the oceanfront pocket park in the 1400 block of Duval Street. Cash awards await creators of the parade’s best kinetic sculpture floats and art bikes.
The festivities conclude Sunday, April 5, with a free-admission Papio Museum Day at Fort East Martello Museum, 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd. The facility’s “Stanley Papio: Junkyard Rebel” exhibit contains more than 100 of the late artist’s large-scale sculptures.
Event information: papiokineticparade.com
Cayman Smith-Martin pedals his 30-foot-long iguana, with spines made from scrap cardboard, during the 2019 Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade. Images: Rob O'Neal