Key West Stylin’

Key West draws me in for so many reasons. It’s part of the United States, but feels like the Caribbean. It’s casual, laid-back, and tolerant. And it’s truly stylin’. There’s nothing more relaxing than pedaling a conch cruiser through the streets of Old Town past the beautifully unique island residences. There’s an elegance, a permanence, and a mystical presence I cannot explain. Today, I share my love and admiration for the homes of my home-away-from-home. Enjoy!

Larger homes in Cayo Hueso reflect the Spanish heritage of the region, with Spanish colonial architecture, such as this home on the right, with a full length porch on each level to take advantage of the tropical vistas.

Most homes in Old Town feature white picket fences, perhaps as a territorial measure due to miniscule lots. Whatever the reason for their being, the fences add a cozy, whimsical appearance to these homes.

Key West properties feature an abundance of plantings, whether in the form of palm, banyon or ornamental Royal Poinciana trees (shown below), and a variety of tropical shrubs and flowers.

Many of the larger Old Town homes are traditionally painted white, yet some reflect the Caribbean influence of the Conch cottages, in colors such as pink, blue, and green. Victorian touches, such as gingerbread detailing is common, too.

Of course, part of island life is coping with extremes–the tropical heat and hurricanes. Shutters serve a dual function, allowing in a breeze while protecting its residents from the sun’s rays and destructive winds, like on the house shown below.

House after house in the Old Town section of Key West is an attraction unto itself–another reason this place is home-away-from-home for many of its visitors. You can’t help but want to lounge on a shady porch with a refreshing drink surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Someday I plan to live in one of these beautiful homes. What is your dream style of home, and why?

The Southernmost Artist and Key West Art

The Southernmost Artist

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.

Art abounds in Old Town, Key West…

Building Mural

Building mural – Corner of Simonton and Olivia

Fence in Bahama Village, Key West

Car Art – Spotted off Flagler Avenue

Sand Art at the Casa Marina Resort – Ribbit…

Recycled Car as Art – Near the Historic Seaport

Architectural Art – Lower Duval

Sheet Metal Art – Key West Street Fair

…all unique, all beautiful in their own way.

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