Key West

Ram­ble the artis­tic cap­i­tal of the Conch Repub­lic

Southern Living (USA) - - Travel & Culture -

Spend years in Key West, and you’ll still dis­cover daily sur­prises. Look for them tucked along is­land streets— the cor­ners of which are at­tended by crow­ing rooster sen­tries that am­ble around the place—or hid­den be­hind thick ta­pes­tries of trop­i­cal trees decked with vi­brant blooms droop­ing in the hu­mid air.

All these won­ders are ac­ces­si­ble from a room at the ex­quis­ite Mar­quesa Ho­tel, which is nes­tled on Flem­ing Street and painted in an aqua­ma­rine echo of the sea. Its fa­cades en­cir­cle quiet court­yards and shim­mer­ing pools. The ho­tel is within walk­ing dis­tance of the bus­tle of busy Du­val Street—of ev­ery­thing, re­ally—but it feels miles away.

The lures of Old Town Key West are man­i­fold: They’re buoyed by the is­land’s thriv­ing cre­ative spirit and bol­stered by the vi­brant artis­tic and lit­er­ary com­mu­ni­ties that call it home.

The in­ter­sec­tion of Key West’s orig­i­nal­ity and trop­i­cal beauty can be found in the Gallery on Greene, an art hub that’s home to works by many mak­ers, in­clud­ing artists Peter Vey, Mario Sanchez, and Wayne Gar­cia, lauded painters of Key West scenes, whose can­vases are filled with the col­ors and char­ac­ter of the town. “Their work cap­tures the spirit of the is­land,” ex­plains owner Nance Frank, an es­teemed art dealer and col­lec­tor. “It’s un­like any other place on Earth.”

Frank, a life­long res­i­dent of The Keys, sees the area’s ap­peal re­flected in the works hang­ing in her gallery, paint­ings with blue skies, wav­ing palms, and the brightly col­ored land­marks that lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike have come to love. It’s the town that in­spired count­less artists and writ­ers to linger and to cre­ate. Frank ex­plains the is­land’s al­lure: “There’s so much to dis­cover here. Ask any­one—we’d never dream of leav­ing.”

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