Michelle Nicole Lowe’s ‘Keys Traveler’ Cover Art Depicts 200 Years of Florida Keys History
FLORIDA KEYS — Florida Keys artist Michelle Nicole Lowe, whose family heritage in the island chain spans more than a century, painted the colorful cover image for the 2023 Keys Traveler, the annual visitor magazine produced by the Florida Keys tourism council that is primarily distributed at travel shows.
This year’s Keys Traveler celebrates Monroe County’s 2023 bicentennial.
A resident of Islamorada, Lowe has a Keys connection that dates back to her great-grandfather’s arrival at Key West over a century ago from the Bahamas’ Green Turtle Cay. That enduring tie to the 125-mile-long island chain and her love of the ocean influenced the artist’s creative vision for the original watercolor titled “Florida Keys — 200 Years of Paradise” reproduced on the magazine’s cover.
Lowe’s design includes elements found on, over and under the aquamarine waters of the Keys. Henry Flagler’s historic Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad train crossing a distinctive arched bridge, Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home, a marlin jumping behind the famed author’s beloved fishing boat and images of a leaping bottlenose dolphin, the Alligator Reef Lighthouse and a setting sun comprise the top portion of the painting.
“I love Keys history and am really honored to have painted this piece to commemorate 200 years of the Florida Keys,” Lowe said. “As a teenager, I spent many evenings in front of one of Flagler's old bridges like the one in my painting as the last sliver of sun went under the horizon.
“It's awesome these bridges — a significant part of our Keys history — still exist,” added Lowe.
Underneath the bridge arches, Lowe included a double-masted schooner and some of the underwater creatures she sees during frequent dive and snorkel trips in the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Elkhorn coral provides habitat for yellowtail snapper along with a hogfish and Florida lobster, while a sea turtle swims by. At the center is a queen conch shell, the iconic symbol of the Keys.
Digital editions of the 2023 Keys Traveler are available for download at fla-keys.com/brochures-newsletters. Lowe’s artwork can be seen at the Michelle Nicole Lowe Gallery at 81904 Overseas Highway in Islamorada.
Celebratory 200th anniversary activities are to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 25, with the "200 Years of Paradise Kick-off Concert" at Key West’s Coffee Butler Amphitheater at Truman Waterfront Park. The program is to combine live music by noted regional entertainers Howard Livingston and Nick Norman, the showing of segments from South Florida PBS’ new documentary titled “The Florida Keys: 200 Years of Paradise,” and drone “fireworks” with some 250 drones illuminating the sky.
Additional Keys 200 event information can be found at fla-keys.com/keys200.
Keys artist Michelle Nicole Lowe painted the colorful image for the 2023 Keys Traveler magazine celebrating Monroe County's 2023 bicentennial. Photo: Andy Newman