FLORIDA KEYS — The Florida Keys & Key West are connected by more than the iconic Overseas Highway and its 42 bridges. The alluring island chain also is connected by a vibrant community of creative spirits, and a 24-foot-long mural of their artistry can be viewed through May 20 in a Keyswide series of exhibitions.
Now celebrating its 10th year, “The Connections Project: A Mosaic of the Keys” has been spearheaded since its inception by the Florida Keys Council of the Arts. The project’s cornerstone is a new mural each winter, assembled from as many as 400 individual 6-inch-square canvases adorned by Keys artists and arts-minded residents.
“Every canvas connects to the next canvas, demonstrating how the arts build community and how we inspire each other,” said Elizabeth Young, the arts council’s longtime executive director.
The tiny canvases typically feature works in oils, watercolor, photography, collage, mixed media, quilting, beadwork and more, depending on the individual artist’s whim and talent. Subjects include tropical flowers, birds and sea life, palms and waterfront scenes, blazing sunsets, abstract symbols and local landmarks.
“We ask participants to create art on the canvases in whatever medium or style they choose,” Young said. “The work really reflects the beauty and the uniqueness of the Keys.”
Once the mural is assembled, it embarks on a “road show” tour of galleries and other venues around the island chain, with an opening reception set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at each location. The 10th anniversary mural debuted Jan. 31 at Baker’s Cay Resort in Key Largo.
Subsequent gatherings are to be staged Feb. 5 at Our Place in Paradise art gallery in Tavernier, Feb. 16 at Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty in Islamorada, March 8 at Marathon’s Shady Palm Art Gallery, March 22 at Big Pine Key’s Artists in Paradise Gallery, April 12 at Key West’s Royal Furniture and May 10 at Key West’s Gato Building, headquarters of the arts council.
After viewing the unique installation, art lovers can acquire pieces of it by making a $50 donation for a single canvas or a $125 donation for three online at keysarts.com. Patrons will receive randomly selected 6-inch canvases after the mosaic is disassembled, each with an artist statement providing insight into the work.
Proceeds from “The Connections Project” benefit Keys artists through grants from the council — making more “connections” that help the creative community continue to enrich and enliven the island chain. Visit keysarts.com or call 305-295-4369.
Through May, the mural continues on a “road show” tour of galleries and other venues around the island chain. Image: Florida Keys Council of the Arts