a group of people that are playing guitars
Cory Young, left, Adrienne Z and John Bartus weave together stories and songs at Sparky’s Landing.

How do you enhance one of the Keys’ best displays of local art? Add some of the islands’ best musicians.

On March 14, Sparky’s Landing in Marathon hosted the third of five receptions for the 2024 Connections Project. Now a highly-anticipated annual event driven by the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, the display showcased a mosaic comprised of 48 “tiles” individually imagined by artists throughout the island chain. While proceeds from sales of the tiles, as always, benefit Keys artists and arts organizations through grants awarded by the Arts Council, the 2024 reception series added a musical touch to a series historically driven by visual art.

On Wednesday evening, Connections Project guests and Sparky’s patrons enjoyed a Nashville-style writers’ round from singer/songwriters Adrienne Z, John Bartus and Cory Young, each detailing their own artistic journeys in the Keys. “The performing arts enhance our shared experiences,” said Elizabeth Young, the Arts Council’s executive director. “We’re thrilled to highlight local talent to celebrate the longstanding connection between the community and local cultural initiatives.”

Upcoming Connections Project receptions include Thursday, March 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lower Keys Chamber Grounds on Big Pine Key and Tuesday, April 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Williams Hall in Key West. More information is at

Photos by ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

Forty-eight Connections Project tiles showcase the breadth of talent among local Keys artists in a variety of media.
Seasoned Keys musician Cory Young takes his turn playing to a packed house at Sparky’s.
Arts Council advisors and staff pause for a photo op with the 2024 Connections Project mosaic. From left: Madalyn Mussey, Elizabeth Young, Susann D’Antonio, Leslie Calero, Marianne Finizio, Sarah Bartus.
Alex Rickert
Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.