Artists are lured to the Keys, a 125-mile-long island chain like no other, because of the color-drenched natural scenery and a deep collective creative spirit that is richly apparent from Key Largo to Key West.
This season, the Keys feature fresh-air strolls that explore the matchless talent, fascinating work and unique lifestyles of skilled local artists.
To experience the outdoor splendor of “art strolling” in the Keys, check out some highlight opportunities here.
In Islamorada, the evening Third Thursday Morada Way Art Walk is Thursday, Feb. 17. Within a six-block corridor between mile markers 81 and 82 in the village’s thriving Morada Way Arts & Cultural District is a favored local scene for gallery shopping, imbibing and nibbling. Participants include Morada Way Clay, Jessica Ann Art, Rum Brush and Limelight Studio/Gallery among others. Subsequent art walks are scheduled March 17, April 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept.15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15. Visit https://moradaway.org/art-walk.
The Stock Island Art Stroll on Saturday, Feb. 12, includes tours of off-the-beaten path art studios in the Lower Keys’ Stock Island. Stops feature a variety of eclectic shops and studios with multiple artists in disciplines ranging from sculptures to woodworking, mosaics and fabric art. Additional Saturday strolls are slated March 12, April 9, May 14, June 11 and July 9. Visit ilovestockisland.org/stock-island-art-stroll/.
Art aficionados can enjoy popular Key West gallery strolls including Walk on White, a monthly art walk that dates back to 1999 and showcases the island city’s White Street Arts District. Upcoming strolls are slated Thursday evenings on Feb. 17 and March 17, featuring Stone Soup Gallery, Shade Ceramics and Shutter Photography, Harrison Gallery and many other enticing stops. Visit walkonwhitekeywest.com.
Monthly 1st Fridays on Fleming happenings take place in picturesque downtown Key West and are scheduled Feb. 4, March 4, April 1 and May 6. The events, with different monthly offerings, encourage strolling, sipping and shopping at locally owned galleries and businesses in the “Fabulous 500” block of Flaming Street. Visit shoplocalkeywest.com
In Key West, literature, architecture and history are a key part of the cultural scene. They are the subject of several guided walking tours including the two outlined here.
The Old Town Literary Walking Tour takes participants past sites, landmarks and hangouts of world-renowned writers — such as Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Shel Silverstein, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Frost — who lived or spent considerable time in Key West. Tours currently are offered on Fridays and Sundays; private tours are available on request. Visit kwls.org.
Architecture and history buffs are sure to enjoy the Key West Art & Historical Society’s Saturday morning Architectural Walking Tours celebrating the 200th anniversary of Key West’s settlement on March 25, 1822. The next walks are scheduled Feb. 5 and Feb. 26. Historic landmarks, including the Custom House Museum, 281 Front St., and architectural styles are highlighted. Visit kwahs.org.
As well as art and cultural strolls, a variety of galleries throughout the Keys are well worth exploring. Among them are Shady Palm Art Gallery & Photography (shadypalmartgallery.com) in Marathon and Artists in Paradise Gallery (artistsinparadise.com) on Big Pine Key. For a detailed guide that features some 50 Keys galleries, visit keysarts.com/artist_connections/gallery_guide.html.
For more information about Florida Keys artists and cultural events, visit fla-keys.com/culture/ or keysarts.com.