Have you ever wanted to get inside an artist’s mind? What makes them tick? What materials do they use? How does the magic begin and where do they take it?
Seven Key West artists invite you to experience creativity through their eyes on Saturday, March 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at five great spaces during The Studios of Key West’s annual Artist Studio Tours. The self-guided journey is a walkable loop to five studios and homes located near the Key West Cemetery, making it easy for a quick peek or a full immersion in their creative worlds.
The tours are a favorite for artists and collectors alike, providing opportunities to connect and discover some of the deeper layers of each artist’s work.
“It is gratifying to know we all are making a go of the crazy efforts of creating,” said oil painter Rebecca Bennet. “It takes a great deal of faith, confidence and humor to keep the ball rolling ahead, to think of possibilities, to allow play. To aspire and have goals.”
Bennet is an artist at the “Writers and Artist House” at 524 Grinnell St., the fourth stop on the tour and also the studio of writers Rosalind Brackenbury and Jessica Argyle. Two gumbo limbo trees stand sentinel in front of the old and cozy house used exclusively for professional working artists and writers, including the beloved Annie Dillard and Robert Stone.
Argyle writes historical fiction set in the Lower Keys (and also makes clothes and paints!) and Brackenbury is a former Key West poet laureate and author of nearly two dozen books, including the forthcoming “Bone Whisperer.” The three women have found a camaraderie that connects solitude and encouragement — stories are read, feedback is offered, paintings are painted, unseen then seen. Highs and lows are felt, but so is the energy “when someone is on a roll,” says Bennet, who paints atmospheric landscapes with oils.
Other times, it’s solitary.
“I love starting something in a space that is mine, where I close the door, shut out the world and connect to something where I’m not sure of its outcome,” says Bennet. “I like the uncertainty in that and finding a way to make something real.”
But let’s start at the beginning of the tour with the distinctive pink Victorian house at 718 Olivia St. There, you will meet painter Meggi Siegert in “Mama’s art room,” the home studio space where she and her then-young children once made art.
“It also happens to be the room where the most stories have been told,” she says. Siegert uses oil on linen to paint portraits and figures — splendid dichotomies of exquisite resilience. Hold their gaze steadily and they just might tell you a story, too.
Second stop is the “Turtle House” at 835 Johnson Lane with painter Susan Sugar. The sea and sky are always moving, and Sugar has mastered capturing that dance of light, motion and mood on paper with watercolor. The New York/Key West artist’s background in dance and architecture is apparent — her space, which Coastal Living magazine has deemed an “artist’s paradise,” makes you feel like you’ve been lifted to a cloud Sugar painted just for you.
Third stop is 9 Gerome Ave. — across from the old Coffee Mill— with painter Scott Gruppee. Primarily an oil painter, Gruppee’s workspace and gardens are tucked behind a secret lane, where his expressive figures take on a vibrant landscape of their own.
Fifth stop is 509 Margaret St. with artist Mimi Hein. Helm brings form and humor to the fore with an installation of found objects and manikins.
“I love getting feedback and am always touched if something I’ve done resonates with
someone else,” says designer and installation artist Hein. “For me, it’s all about connection.”
Whatever the medium, each artist’s space offers freedom to focus and a world of creativity if they show up to engage it. Stop in to meet them, listen in for some art wisdom. Art and books will be available for sale, and you just might be touched by some creative angels of your own.Tickets are available at tskw.org, at 305-296-0458, or on March 3 at the Olivia Street stop number 1. Tickets are $30 for nonmembers, $25 for members.
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