FLORIDA KEYS — The eclectic and talented Florida Keys arts community comes together each year through the Connections Project to form one large mural made from hundreds of individual paintings by Keys artists.
In 2023, the Florida Keys Council of the Arts has announced a special edition titled “Connections Project: Celebrating Our Unique History” honoring Monroe County’s bicentennial.
The arts council is distributing 300 6-by-8-inch canvases, each to be painted by individual artists and pieced together to form one 24-foot-long mural. Artists are asked to highlight Monroe County’s 200th birthday with the theme, “Pirates to Pineapples in Paradise – 200 Years in Monroe County.”
“Every canvas connects to the next canvas, demonstrating how the arts build community and how we inspire each other,” said Elizabeth Young, the arts council’s longtime executive director.
Once the mosaic mural is assembled, it embarks on a “road show” tour of galleries and other venues around the island chain, with an opening reception set for 5-7 p.m. at each location. The special historic edition mural is to debut Feb. 7 at Baker’s Cay Resort in Key Largo.
Subsequent receptions are to be staged March 2 at Marathon’s Royal Furniture Showroom, March 24 at Big Pine Key’s Artists in Paradise Gallery and April 20 at Key West’s historic Gato Building, headquarters of the arts council.
The small canvases typically feature works in oils, watercolor, photography, collage, mixed media, quilting, beadwork and more, depending on the individual artist’s whim and talent.
Subjects this year will focus on the wide-ranging and colorful history of the Keys, from the days when pirates prowled the waters surrounding the island chain through the time of pineapple plantations, the development and demise of the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, building of the Overseas Highway and the renown generated for the Keys by brilliant authors, playwrights, musicians and artists.
“We ask participants to create art on the canvases in whatever medium or style they choose,” Young said. “The work reflects the beauty and the uniqueness of the Keys and this year will shine a bright light on the fascinating history of the Keys’ colorful past.”
After viewing the unique installation, art lovers can acquire pieces of it by making a $60 donation for a single canvas or a $160 donation for three online at keysarts.com. Patrons will receive randomly selected 6-inch canvases after the mosaic is disassembled, each with an artist statement providing insight into the work.
Proceeds from “The Connections Project” benefit Keys artists through grants from the council — making more “connections” that help the creative community continue to enrich and enliven the island chain.
“Connections Project” information: keysarts.com or 305-295-4369
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS