It is difficult to define the creative range of local artist Michael Marrero. Some say his art can be defined as “life portraying a Conch,” while others maintain it’s “a Conch portraying life.” Regardless, the local artist, photographer, writer, producer, father and Executive Director at the Key West Theater has written plays performed in Cuba and New York, while his photography has been displayed around the globe.
Yet before Marrero became one of the most celebrated homegrown artists in the Southernmost City, he was a young 20-year-old in the late 1990s — equipped with a 16mm camera and an artistic vision. Little did he know that 20 years later his family, friends and the public would be gathering to watch two of his earliest projects, “Southernmost Point” and “Square Grouper,” for a night of sentimental nostalgia and celebration at the Key West Theater.
“You can definitely tell that I was in my early 20s when you watch the films,” said Marrero with a chuckle. “I had just returned to Key West after traveling for a few months and was introduced to Independent film labels such as Sundance. ‘Indies’ were just taking off and the creativity was an alluring outlet.”
Marrero says that even though he was a young artist at the time of the films, they still depict a unique history of Key West on the precipice of a tourism boom. The films contain footage of the old Houseboat Row, the former airport and rooster fights — all things that have since disappeared.
“It was nostalgic and horrifying in equal measure,” Marrero said, laughing, as he described the feeling of reviewing his old work. “The coolest thing was seeing how much Key West has changed since they were made … so many places that are no longer with us.”
Marrero’s stern critiques of his own work aside, the night promises fun for the rest of us locals. The films will be screened on Friday, Aug. 5 and doors open before 8 p.m. Each film is just over an hour long, with a full bar and refreshments available. Tickets can be purchased at theKeyWestTheater.com.
“It will be like a big reunion,” said Marrero. “Local faces like Michael Jolly, Benny Lowe and Ron Gage will be popping up on screen. And we even have Budlight and Crown and Seven specials to honor our Conchs.”
Note: Marrero is the creator of the acclaimed 72 Hour Film Festival in Key West (only a few weeks out at the Tropic Cinema) and will be debuting his new short, “Buzz Cut,” later this fall.