On our recent getaway to the Conch Republic, my husband and I met the Southernmost Artist. As we waded and swam in the warm waters of Southern Beach that first day in Key West, William Craig Sasser employed his craft on the sidewalk overlooking the Southernmost House, his back to the Atlantic.The man was an anchor in a sea of tourists milling about that summer morning. Most people walked right past him as if he didn’t exist, fascinated by the art in nature, taking photos posing in front of the water instead of admiring his work. It didn’t faze him. He kept on painting, his pose relaxed and his gaze serene.
Finished with our swim, my husband and I wandered over to the man in the wide-brimmed hat. He didn’t look up from his painting, allowing us to peruse the displayed pieces at our leisure.
One piece in particular caught my eye. It reminded me of our fishing charter experience last fall. The oil featured a heron flying above mangrove islands in an early morning scene.
I wanted that painting if we could afford it. But first, I was more interested in getting to know the man behind the art. We waited patiently, and at last he lifted his brush from the canvas and glanced our way. The look on his face, the wonder of returning from the thrill of his art, connected with me. I get lost in a story and lose all track of time and space. I guess you could compare it to a runner’s high.
In our chat with Mr. Sasser, we expressed our interest in the painting and asked him about the inspiration. He said that it was, indeed, a morning painting over “the lakes” where we’d fished. My husband and he then chatted about the frame of the painting. My husband was brutally honest, saying he planned to change the frame and make his own, like he had done with the other art in our Key West themed bedroom. Instead of being insulted as I’d anticipated, the artist agreed, emphatic that a person become a participant in their art. This sentiment is echoed in his artist statement attached to the back of that painting we ultimately purchased: “It is the human relationsihip to nature and the oneness we all share with it.”
I would happily include a link to William Craig Sasser’s website, if he had one. He doesn’t use the internet or display his work online. However, if you happen to visit Key West, you may find the Southernmost Artist painting at the Southernmost Beach or at his Key West Studio at 6621 Maloney Avenue.