The Pigeon Key Arts festival turns 21 years old this year. And to celebrate, festival organizers have lined up some star talent in the form of internationally renowned marine artist Wyland. He will be creating four original ink paintings at the festival. Later, he will auction them off himself.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about Wyland’s appearance at the festival,” said festival organizer and Pigeon Key board member Denise DeCrow.

Wyland will be painting on the field at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

“He’ll be wearing a microphone so the crowd will be able to hear him,” DeCrow said. “I expect he’ll use that time to talk a little bit about his foundation.”

The Wyland Foundation, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving the world’s ocean, waterways, and marine life. The foundation encourages environmental awareness through education programs, public arts projects, and community events.

The Wyland pieces are expected to start around $2,200 — about $4,000 less than what the same piece would cost in a gallery, according to art consultants.

In addition to the Wyland pieces, festival goers will have a chance to purchase raffle tickets for more than 50 other pieces of artwork during Sunday’s traditional art raffle. Tickets are to be available through 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Pigeon Key Art Festival will showcase the work of 60 artists who undergo a rigorous selection process that starts almost a year in advance. The creative festival’s tropically themed oasis of artwork includes pottery, paintings, glass, sculpture, photography, jewelry and more. Each year artists demonstrate their skills during the show, giving attendees a glimpse of the techniques behind their original creations.    

DeCrow said the prestige of the art show continues to grow.

“The artists are all very excited to be in Marathon, and also to be selected by our panel of jurists,” she said.

Now in its 21st year, the event is named for Pigeon Key, a small island beneath the Old Seven Mile Bridge that housed workers constructing the Over-Sea Railroad in the early 1900s. Today, Pigeon Key is an iconic Florida Keys cultural landmark.
Festival proceeds help support the Pigeon Key Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to delivering education to the public about the historical, environmental and cultural significance of the Florida Keys.

“Personally, I love that little island. It has so much historical value and it’s a great place to take friends and family to visit, or even picnic,” she said.

As an added value, patrons can retain their ticket stubs and redeem them for a half-price ferry trip to Pigeon Key within one week of their show admission.
The Pigeon Key Art Festival is staged at Marathon Community Park, MM 49, Oceanside. The festival is Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 7-8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Admission is $7 per person for adults and free for children under 12. Parking is free at Marathon Community Park. Food and beverages will be available on the field.

“I spent the past few days taking beverage deliveries and marking the field so artists know where to pitch their tents,” DeCrow said. She became involved with the Pigeon Key Art Festival in 2013, and has single-handedly managed the organizational details in 2014 and 2015.

“It’s going to be another great year.”


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