Raise a glass to Florida Keys art and history with Key West Art & Historical Society curator and historian Cori Convertito on Thursday, Oct. 19, from 5 to 6 p.m. during her “Happy Hour with the Historian” program at Comedy Key West, 218 Whitehead St. Enjoy a complimentary draft beer, glass of house wine or soft drink while Convertito discusses “Collecting Key West: The Sketches of Mario Sanchez.” The presentation will explore the techniques, places and recurring characters featured in the Cuban American artist’s works.
Much as sculptors employ maquettes, Sanchez used his brown paper bag sketches to visualize and experiment with shapes and concepts without undertaking the effort of producing elaborate wood carvings. Both his sketches and wood carvings tell the story of Old Key West, melding art and history in a single scene. His abilities led to Sanchez being presented with the Florida Folk Heritage Award conferred by the Florida Secretary of State and the Florida Folklife Council in 1985. He is still considered one of the nation’s greatest folk artists.
“Key West is fortunate to have Mario Sanchez as a prominent figure in its rich artistic heritage,” said Convertito. “His sketches and wood carvings are emblematic of our community, making him a local treasure. The sketches and wood carvings appeal to a broad spectrum of people – locals, visitors, adults, and children. His storytelling is timeless.”
Sanchez was a self-taught artist, born in 1908 in Key West’s Gatoville neighborhood. Beginning with modest carvings of local fish in the 1930s, he cultivated his natural talent to create upwards of 600 intricate carvings during his lifetime. His work is renowned for capturing familiar local characters amid the simple life and activities he recalled from his childhood — flying kites, spinning tops, parades and passing the time rocking on front porches. The scenes reveal a valuable and colorful doorway into the cultural history of the island and its people.
Happy Hour with the Historian is limited to 70 attendees; reserve your spot now at kwahs.org/hh-sanchez – $12 for KWAHS members, $15 for non-members.
More information is available from Convertito at 305-295-6616 x507 or [email protected].