Let Your Inner Artist Shine
Catchy names turn heads: The World Famous Blue Flamingo just opened its doors July 1 and is quickly becoming a household name in Key West for their paint-and-sip classes, art gallery, and karma coffee.
Owner and artist Vito DiCantante and Cyndi Wensinger hopped on their sailboat and made the 13-day trip from Cocoa Beach to Key West. After a couple of thwarted attempts to find employment they decided, “screw it, we’ll open our own.” Behold their new establishment at 2318 North Roosevelt Blvd.
The gallery displays the works of about a dozen artists, including Key West natives and also DiCantante’s own work. But the big draw lately has been the paint-and-sip classes, where they supply everything but the wine for those looking to bring out their inner artists.
When people ask about Wensinger’s role at the gallery, she replies “not the artist.” But she did a mean stucco job in the bathroom and signed it with just that.
The paint and sip classes run $39 on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 7 to 10 p.m., but locals can find a special price on the World Famous Blue Flamingo Facebook page for $29. The shop supplies a 15×20 canvas that be painted with mermaids, chickens, turtles, iguanas and, of course, flamingos, in a quick-drying acrylic ready to take with the artist when they leave.
“I’ll sometimes get requests when someone calls in to make reservations, and we will do everything to accommodate the artist,” Wensinger said. She said patrons usually do two different paintings, since two householders don’t want images of the same thing, or worse, a competitive “mine is better than yours” mentality to linger.
On average, Blue Flamingo teaches about 50 students a week. Worried about drawing a straight line? They have stencils to help the non-coordinated with perception and proportion.
The hippies at heart also jumped right into the community when they moved here by volunteering their time and money to local non-profits and causes close to their heart.
Last week, DiCantante was painting faces at the Sherriff’s Animal Farm fundraiser at Mangia Mangia and Wensinger is walking in the upcoming Walk out the Darkness suicide prevention in September. They are also sponsoring the MARC House’s Smart Ride by providing the bananas, waters and coffee at one of the stops, as well as helping out at the Special Olympics-Monroe County SUP Invitational in October.
“We are just a bunch of hippies, me and Vito,” Wensinger said. “And, we know we must give back to the community in any way shape or form we can
Karma, karma, karma coffee
Sticky notes for a brighter day
The back wall of The World Famous Blue Flamingo is stacked with Post-It Notes with inspirational sayings like “you are beautiful,” and “enjoy your coffee” from random but kind strangers.
“It’s our karma coffee wall,” said Wensigner. “Need a nice cup of coffee to make your day a little better, but don’t have a buck? Well, someone paid it forward so you can have one.”
Each sticky on the wall represents a dollar someone else paid towards a cup of joe for someone else.
“People actually send in money from all over the world online to pay it forward,” Wensigner said. “We even had a guy come in one time who only had a $100 bill. I didn’t have enough change, so we gave him a karma coffee.”
Later that day, that same gentleman brought back a five to pay it forward again.
The bulletin board the coffee karma filled up so fast, it now spills off onto the walls beside it.
From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., The World Famous Blue Flamingo is a coffee bar selling 99-cent cups of Joe.