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Arts & Culture In The Florida Keys

FKCC Keys Chorale

Dean Walters directing the FKCC Keys Chorale in their annual holiday concert. Photo by Al Sachs

Florida Keys & Key West appeal to visitors through a varied cultural menu. The islands' creative community is vibrant and varied, overflowing with an energy and enthusiasm that has drawn visitors for decades.

Today this community is attracting a growing national and international market of people interested in heritage and cultural tourism and who want to experience the arts, with events ranging from an annual literary seminar to a professional symphony orchestra series.

Many elements weave together the Keys' creative tapestry.

Dance  •  Festivals  •  Film  •  Galleries & Visual Arts  •  Literature
Museums, History & Nature  •  Music  •  Theatre  •  Outdoor Art & Art In Public Places

More information about the musical, creative and artistic Florida Keys:

Florida Keys Council of the Arts
Subscribe to the free 'Keys Traveler' electronic newsletter
Culture Guide
PDF Version
Digital Version
Gallery Guide Keys Arts Events Calendar

Nutcracker Key West dancer
Nutcracker Key West dancers

Dance

Many of the dance performances throughout the Keys combine together amateur and professional actors and dancers, children and adults, and local and visiting talents.

Notably, the "Nutcracker Key West," the brainchild of Key West resident Joyce Stahl, a classically trained dancer who performed with New Jersey's American Repertory Ballet for 35 years. Under the guidance of this gifted American ballet dancer, dance professionals from around the United States have joined dozens of Keys children to create a unique island-flavored version of the classic holiday ballet "The Nutcracker."

For a complete guide to dance and the performing arts, search for Cultural Events at the Florida Keys & Key West Events Calendar or visit the Florida Keys Council of the Arts.

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Festivals

Deb LaFogg-Docherty

Artist Deb LaFogg-Docherty works on a new piece, as Pigeon Key Art Festival visitors look on

A variety of art and craft shows are popular throughout the Keys, such as the Pigeon Key Art Festival traditionally held each February to celebrate the heritage of the tiny historic island beneath the Old Seven Mile Bridge southwest of Marathon.

Key West Craft Show is a critically acclaimed art festival and a leading craft show that transforms two Old Town streets into a lively open-air gallery. Old Island Days Art Festival features sculpture, graphics, photography and paintings in all mediums — acrylics, oils, watercolors and even collage where several materials are incorporated into one image. At each show, the creative artists are on hand to discuss their original work and answer questions.

Key Largo's Florida Keys Art Guild and Islamorada's Art Guild of the Purple Isles hosts an annual judged art show in February, among several other outdoor art festivals and juried shows.

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Tropic Cinema

Film

The Florida Keys are home to South Florida's only nonprofit, independent film multiplex. Located in Key West, the Tropic Cinema, brainchild of the Key West Film Society, has a yearly schedule of exciting new releases, contemporary, Cinematheque, independent, foreign and alternative movies in digital and 35mm format.

Lovers of classics are equally well served, whether it's a biography of Oscar Wilde, a Hemingway tribute or films in which scenes were shot right here in the Keys. For more venues in the Keys, click here.

Left: Key West Film Society's Tropic Cinema debuted in March 2004. The marquee features an art deco design that recalls the classic movie palaces of the past.

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Galleries & Visual Arts

Visitors seeking the work of visual artists can find it literally from one end of the Keys to the other.

Morada Way Arts & Cultural District

Fine arts, music and culinary nuances of Islamorada are reflected in the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District, whose mission is to feature regularly scheduled casual gatherings where visitors and residents can discover, enjoy and obtain stimulating, one-of-a-kind fine art. The Morada Way Arts & Cultural District showcases eclectic galleries rich with affordable original artwork, including an annual Fine Art Expo and a monthly evening "walkabout" that occurs the third Thursday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m., in galleries at Morada Way between mile markers (MM) 81 and 82.

Galleries abound — featuring oils and watercolors, sculpture of all sorts, Haitian primitives, collage, pottery, handcrafted jewelry, woodcarving, stained glass and blown glass, acrylics and a variety of fine crafts.

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Gallery at Kona Kai Makes Vacations an Art Form

Studios of Key West Offers Artistry & Inspiration

Browse Keys art galleries

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Literature

Visitors interested in literature can find both history and inspiration in Key West. Tennessee Williams maintained a home on the island from 1949 until his death, Robert Frost was a frequent visitor, and Ernest Hemingway produced some of his finest work during his decade-long residence in the 907 Whitehead St. home that is now open for tours.

Leading contemporary writers from throughout the United States and abroad gather together in Key West to share insights with lovers of literature at the annual Key West Literary Seminar. Past seminar themes have included "Wondrous Strange; Mystery, Intrigue & Psychological Drama," "Historical Fiction and the Search For Truth," and "The Literature of Adventure, Travel and Discovery."

Literary Landmarks Showcase Key West's Creative Heritage

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Hemingway House

Museums, History & Nature

While many Florida Keys locales are well known and well traveled, visitors often overlook an array of hidden treasures. Exploring the region's environmental and historic attractions can deepen an enjoyment of the Keys' colorful culture and character — particularly for artists and writers seeking pristine natural locations and landscapes to spark their creativity.

Historical museums and attractions such as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Audubon House & Tropical Gardens and the Key West Art & History Museum at the Custom House draw visitors who seek a cultural experience to supplement the traditional "fun and sun" lure of this subtropical resort area.

More Key West Museums

Left: A registered national historic landmark, the Hemingway House and Museum offers guided tours of the author's home, writing studio and Key West's first swimming pool. The six-toes cats which roam the grounds are descendants of Hemingway's pets. Photo by Andy Newman/TDC


Tucked away in Marathon is a 63-acre tropical oasis that is one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in the Keys. Crane Point Museum and Nature Center contains evidence of prehistoric Indian artifacts and was once the site of a Bahamian village. Highlights include the Museum of Natural History; a gift shop; nature trails; Adderley House, one of the oldest homes in the Keys outside of Key West; the Marathon Wild Bird Center; a butterfly garden and flight habitat.

Right: The Adderley house historic site is of a classic Bahamian style and is the oldest house in the Keys outside of Key West. Photo courtesy of Crane Point

Adderley house
The Keys History & Discovery Center

In Islamorada, The Keys History & Discovery Center is developing exhibits incorporating a combination of static displays and interactive media delving into first Florida Keys inhabitants, shipwrecks and salvage, Keys pioneering families, sportfishing legends and Henry Flagler's Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad. In addition, traveling exhibits already are being presented that reflect upon nature, art or history of the Keys.

Dedicated to collecting, preserving and displaying artifacts, antiques and photographs relative to diving and its heritage, the Florida Keys History of Diving Museum is not only a unique Upper Keys attraction, but is a valuable educational resource. During tours of the unique museum, visitors come within inches of the earliest diving machines, including a full-scale replica of an all-wood diving bell and the Parade of Nations exhibit, an unparalleled collection of historic hard-hat dive helmets from around the world. Helmets from 25 nations are presented side by side for close inspection. The museum also hosts an annual "Immerse Yourself" free lecture series.

Florida Keys History of Diving Museum

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Music

While some Keys visitors are attracted by the musical sounds of waves lapping the shore and breezes stirring the palms, many other types of music also can be found along the island chain.

Right: TIB Bank Amphitheater, located at Founders Park, Plantation Key



TIB Bank Amphitheater
One of many live performances at the Amphitheater, sponsored by Islamorada Community Entertainment

The Florida Keys Concert Association, the Upper Keys Concert Series and Islamorada Community Entertainment each offer exceptional classical and contemporary musical performances.

Left: One of many live performances at the Amphitheater, sponsored by Islamorada Community Entertainment

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Cast from Reefer Madness, The Musical at Waterfront Playhouse. Photo by Al Sachs

Cast from Reefer Madness, The Musical at Waterfront Playhouse. Photo by Al Sachs

Theatre

From Key Largo to Key West, the performing arts flourish. The islands are home to numerous theaters and community theater groups whose offerings are supported by both residents and visitors. The talent pool encompasses skilled locals and professional actors from New York and Los Angeles seeking sunshine. Full-book musicals, searing dramas, sidesplitting comedies and children's shows all take their turn on the stages of the Keys.

From the 2008 production, The Amorous Ambassador

Key Players

Marathon Community Theater

Left: From the 2008 production, The Amorous Ambassador.

David Black and Laurie Breakwell in the production of The Musical of Musicals, The Musical. Photo by Al Sachs

Red Barn Theatre

Tennessee Williams Theatre

Waterfront Playhouse

Left: David Black and Laurie Breakwell in the production of The Musical of Musicals, The Musical. Photo by Al Sachs

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Outdoor Art & Art In Public Places

Visual artistry can be seen all over the Florida Keys: in palm-fringed shorescapes that edge the Atlantic Ocean, orange and purple abstracts unrolling across the sky at sunset, and the clean-lined sculptural arches of the old Overseas Highway bridges.

Click here to learn more about Sculpture Key West, one of the most prominent outdoor contemporary sculpture events.

Right: Dali's Watch, created by Key West artist Rick Worth, is draped on the jetty near Fort Zachary Taylor during a Sculpture Key West exhibition. Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau

Dali's Watch, by Rick Worth


Betsy

From offbeat large-scale sculptures to murals promoting ocean conservation, outdoor artistry flourishes in the island chain. Some prime examples can be spotted along the Overseas Highway in the Upper Keys; as the road stretches above and beside the waters of the Atlantic and Florida Bay, a good number of the roadside creations depict the area's abundant marine life.

Left: Betsy, the larger-than-life replica of a crustacean, greets visitors to the quaint open-air colony of artists at Rain Barrel, in Islamorada.


Visitors can find many other public spaces in the Keys with local art: the Roth Building on Plantation Key, the Freeman Justice Center in Key West, Big Pine Park Community Center, the Murray E. Nelson Government & Cultural Center in Key Largo and the Key West International Airport terminal.

Right: An outdoor mural, titled "The Nitch," by artist Rick Worth can be seen on the exterior of the departures terminal at the Key West International Airport.

The Nitch, by Rick Worth

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Click here for a complete schedule of Arts & Cultural Events.

For more information please contact:
Florida Keys Council of the Arts
1100 Simonton Street, Key West, FL 33040
E-mail: Info@KeysArts.com
Key West: 305-295-4369