Public Art & Sculpture in Key West

Jim_Racchi_Standing_Guard_sculptureKey West Public Art & Sculpture

Key West is an arty town, and in an afternoon of bicycling around the side streets of Old Town you’ll see public art and sculpture all around you. From murals on the sides of commercial buildings to giant public sculptures on Truman Ave, there is plenty of evidence that the artist community in Key West is alive and thriving. In the 1970s and 80s, this was a great place for artists to end up: inspirational surroundings, laid-back leisurely lifestyle, and cheap rents. Well, two out of those three conditions still exist, and with plenty of support from the community, artists still manage a lifestyle here in Key West.

There are commissioned works like the Key West Historical Memorial s Sculpture Garden near Mallory Square, which commemorates, bust-style, influential figures in the history of Key West.

There are non-profits such as Sculpture Key West, which installs outdoor sculpture works at various locations around Key West each January through April. Venues include places like the East Martello Tower and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. East Martellow Tower and West Martellow Tower are newer additions to the list of locations. Fort Taylor State Park has been the home base for Sculpture Key West since it’s beginnings in 1995. The installations at the State Park are especially important because you can see them by entering the park, or you can see them from the water in your boat, since they’re place at the water’s edge at the Park, facing Key West Harbor. The annual exhibition has grown to include over 80 artists each year, and over 100,000 visitors. Since the devastating hurricanes of 2004, Sculpture Key West has initiated their Art in the Community Program, sponsored by the Lower Keys Medical Center. This program pays for lighting and maintenance of outdoor sculpture in front of commercial building, public parks, and other areas around the city.

Other public art and sculpture around Key West is found in the yards, the gates, and docks of private homes where the owners have added an artistic touch to their property. From the elegant unique gateways to landscaped garden homes to a simple adornment to a cement pelican, you’ll see more evidence of artistic inclinations here in Key West than almost any other place. Rent a bicycle for a day and tour around, it’s one of the free, hidden, more enjoyable activities you can do.

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