Artist Barbara stands next to her artwork during the closing of the art exhibit ‘A Wave of Color: Promoting Ocean Conservation.’ CAROLYN DePAULA/Keys Weekly

Art and libations brought a close to the art exhibit “A Wave of Color: Promoting Ocean Conservation,” on Sept. 7 at Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder’s (DPMMR) new Protect Center in Islamorada.

The exhibit, which began on June 20, celebrated the oceans and local artists. Attendees had the opportunity to meet some of the artists and ask questions about their process and inspiration. The summer art exhibit featured the results of the imagination of a wide variety of local and regional artists. 

From the iridescence of the water to the sun’s rays through the trees, the moonlight illuminating lonely docks, to the bottle shade green of the mangroves, the Florida Keys holds keys to different perspectives. Spectators had the chance to view the artists’ vision and how each artist sees their home and environs.

With the free summer exhibit, the Protect Center — the only whale and dolphin hospital in South Florida — sought to connect people with its more than 20 ocean-themed artworks, and to raise awareness for ocean conservation and the new center, located at 82748 Overseas Highway. 

Inside the new center, people get the feeling they are in the interior of a ship of yore. It was the perfect vehicle for celebrating the ocean, being surrounded by nautical works of art.

A larger-than-life marlin looks down from above, a remnant from the Latitude 25 store which used to be at that location for decades. Nancy Cooper, director of DPMMR, who hosted the exhibit, said it blends in with the theme of ocean conservation.

The mission to protect oceans is not over with the art exhibit. Cooper said DPMMR has more projects coming up, one of which is the holiday season’s Sea of Trees. Starting Nov. 24, more than 100 uniquely themed trees will be sponsored by local businesses and donors. On select nights, Santa’s Village will be open with holiday themed snacks and cocktails, crafts, paint nights, complete with a Santa’s workshop where kids can shop.

Originally hailing from the tropical island paradise of Aruba, Carolyn, now a longtime resident of the Upper Keys, knows the islands and its people quite well. With three kids and a husband who was raised here, she also continues to enjoy the many events the Keys have to offer. Carolyn has always had a passion for language, reading, history and writing, her mom having been an editor and her father a translator. An FIU graduate, Carolyn believes in learning something new each day — preferably while enjoying a large cup of coffee with her dog on her lap.