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Keys Traveler
Vol. 8, No. 4 Travel News From The Florida Keys & Key West February 2012

Art, Literature, Theater, Music: Florida Keys Culture Thrives

In the mid-1930s, with the Florida Keys reeling from the Great Depression, Florida Gov. Julius Stone and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration coordinated an influx of artists and writers to paint murals, write guidebooks, teach craft classes and help turn the area into an attractive vacation destination.

Today, the Keys’ creative and cultural community is more vibrant and varied than Stone ever could have imagined. Writers are drawn to the area by the easygoing ambiance and the company of their compadres, musicians and actors by the chance to practice their craft before a knowledgeable and appreciative audience, and artists by the ever-changing tropical light and the opportunity to depict a uniquely engaging locale.

The presence of the Keys’ visual, literary and performing artists — and the galleries and theaters where they showcase their talent — makes every visit to the island chain a cultural delight.

For example, visitors seeking the work of artists and artisans can find it literally from one end of the Keys to the other. Galleries abound featuring oils and watercolors, sculpture, Haitian primitives, collage, pottery, hand-crafted jewelry, wood carving, stained and blown glass, prints and giclees, metalwork, acrylics and fine crafts.

Learn more about why the Florida Keys are called “islands of the arts” by clicking here.
Know Before You Go: Electronic Tolls on Florida Turnpike to Keys
Featured Stories
18th Annual Pigeon Key Art Festival Set for Feb. 11-12
Entertainer Casey Weston, a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice,” is to be featured alongside acclaimed artists and craftspeople from around the country during the Pigeon Key Art Festival. To preview the popular festival’s creative offerings, click here.
Spring Theater Season to Merit Applause
Whether musicals, comedies or some of Broadway’s most critically acclaimed productions, theaters throughout the Florida Keys are presenting family-friendly cultural fun this winter and spring. For a “backstage pass,” click here.
Angelfish Star in Key Largo Arts Scene
Colorful 4-by-5-foot angelfish created by local artists, to be auctioned for charity in February, adorn various Key Largo venues as part of a public arts initiative to show off the community's creative talent. Bid on the details here.
Key West Pops to Present Broadway Classic 'Kiss Me, Kate'
The highlight of the renowned Key West's Pops' 13th season is a two-night concert performance of "Kiss Me, Kate," the Cole Porter classic from Broadway's Golden Age. For the tuneful details, click here.
Set for Feb. 25-26, the 47th annual Old Island Days Art Festival is to spotlight oils, watercolors, sculpture and more by approximately 100 fine artists from around the U.S. and Canada. Click here for a sketch of the show’s highlights.
The clear warm waters of the Florida Keys attract more than 500,000 scuba diving aficionados annually, drawn by the spectacular scenery and the chance for an encounter with nature. But divers and snorkelers can also explore underwater spots that reflect the Keys' arts and cultural scene. Check out the art "down under" here.
The sport fish and game fish that inhabit Keys waters don't just provide targets for eager anglers. For decades, they have also provided significant inspiration for local and visiting writers. Click here to open the book on fishing fiction and nonfiction.
An Islamorada-based artist, known locally as "Lighthouse Larry," has fashioned his passion for lighthouses into creating exact scale replicas of six historical beacons off the Florida Keys. Click here to "meet" the intriguing artist.
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Read Weekly Keys Voices - People & Places in Paradise
Image of the Month

Image of the week
Rays, rays and more rays!
by Bill Moore, Key West.

Watch a Video of the Week
Upcoming Keys Events
Feb. 7
March 10

in Key West
Red Barn Theatre presents: God of Carnage
This Broadway smash hit is a 90-minute thrill ride that takes the audience to the most dangerous place on earth: parenthood. Crackling wit and raucous physical comedy abound in this production of grownups behaving badly. Click here for show times and tickets.
Feb. 16,
March 15

in Islamorada
Morada Way Arts & Cultural District Third Thursday Art Walk
The monthly showcase of fine arts, live music and culinary nuances spotlights several area art galleries between MM 81 and 82. Click here.
Feb. 18-20
in Key Largo
Florida Keys Art Guild's Art Fest at Waldorf Plaza
Thirty-plus local and national artists are to display items including fine jewelry, sculpture, paintings, photography and fine crafts. The free event, open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is set at MM 100. Click here.
Feb. 20-26
in Big Pine &
the Lower Keys
Winter Star Party

Nearly 600 astronomers from around the globe gather to view southern constellations, comets and stars in the Lower Keys’ clear night skies — virtually the only place in the continental U.S. where they can be seen. Click here.

Feb. 24-25
in Marathon
Murder Mystery Dinner Theater 
Crane Point presents this popular “whodunit” event. The 2012 production, “Bebopped at the Sock Hop” by Paula Hilton, is to be staged at Key Colony City Hall. Attractions include a wine and cheese reception, dinner, murder mystery show where guests help solve the crime, 50/50 raffle and enticing prizes. Click here.
Feb. 25-26
in Islamorada
Upper Keys Gigantic Nautical Flea Market
The annual event features hundreds of marine- and water sports-related wares and draws thousands of buyers seeking deals on new and used boats, marine equipment, electronics, fishing tackle and nautical arts and crafts. The shoppers’ extravaganza is located at Founders Park, MM 87 bayside on Plantation Key. Click here.
March 1 - 3
in Key Largo
Jimmy Johnson's Billfish Bowl tournament: Quest for the Ring
Hosted by Jimmy Johnson, two-time Super Bowl winning coach and former head coach at the University of Miami, the Florida Keys celebrity fishing tournament is to benefit the university's Sports Hall of Fame as well as other charitable foundations. Entry fee for the all-release team tournament is $5,000, and includes gift bags and tickets for all social functions for up to six team members. Click here.
March 3
in Key West
50th Annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest
Celebrating the historic importance of conch to the Florida Keys, this unique challenge features contestants attempting to make "music" by blowing into fluted conch shells. Now in its 50th year, the “conch honk” is free and open to all ages. Click here.
March 10-11
in Marathon
Original Marathon Seafood Festival
One of the Middle Keys' signature culinary and family events, this annual munch-fest features gourmet delicacies from the waters of the Florida Keys. Held at Marathon Community Park, MM 49 oceanside, the festive feast is sponsored by the Organized Fishermen of Florida and Marathon Chamber of Commerce. Live music, vendor booths, sweets, treats and beverages add to the delectable weekend. In addition, the Florida Keys Art Guild hosts an open-air art show at the festival entrance. Click here.
March 25-28
Big Pine & the
Lower Keys
Lower Keys Backcountry Paddle with Burnham Guides
South of the Seven Mile Bridge, a maze of mangrove islands unreachable by road spreads out and away from civilization. Explore the region during 3- to 5-night small group kayak trips led by experienced guides/authors. Click here.
Upcoming Keys Events

The Florida Keys & Key West Key Largo Islamorada Marathon Big Pine Key & the Lower Keys Key West Key Largo Islamorada Marathon Big Pine Key & the Lower Keys Key West www.fla-keys.com Webcams Weddings Arts & Culture Fishing Diving & Snorkeling Accommodations