For generations, the Key West arts scene has been endemic to the island’s culture. Going as far back as Audubon’s illustrations of birds (ca. 1820), Key West and its environs have inspired artists of all stripes. It’s a place not only to take in the arts, but to make one’s home while honing their skills.
One of the Key West’s oldest institutions is the San Carlos Institute. Founded by Cuban exiles in 1870, it has been a venue for cultural attractions from political rallies to opera to film and dance. Some of its most popular annual events include the Key West Film Festival and the Key West Literary Symposium. Luminaries from across the spectrum travel thousands of miles to share their knowledge and work with aspiring artists who make their dwelling here.
Another favorite Key West arts attraction is The Studios of Key West. The Studios was established in 2006 as a community destination for artists, especially (but not limited to) visual artists. With rotating galleries in different styles, TSKW has something for everyone and plenty of new features to keep visitors coming back. The Studios offers dozens of classes for aspiring artists. It also hosts an Artists in Residence program that attracts international talent to share their unique insights from across the globe. A new bookstore has just opened there, as well, in partnership with renowned local children’s author Judy Blume.
The Key West arts scene boasts a plethora of private galleries featuring diverse creations in sculpture, paint, photography, weaving and beyond. Superstars like Wyland emphasize Key West’s tropical setting itself as the basis of their work. The Keys’ dolphins, reefs, sea turtles, sharks and many kinds of exotic fish often adorn the work you’ll find in their galleries. And if you’re not quite the type to go to a gallery but enjoy a social wander, you can take part in one of several monthly art walks across the island where wine and interesting conversation are found in equal measure.
These are just a few of the reasons why artists love to call the Key West arts scene home. Whether you’re a professional seeking your muse, an amateur searching for bright canvas, or an appreciator looking for a new scene, you’ll find what you’re looking for right here.