Street Art, Key West, Florida Keys

Street art of a giant cephalopod's tentacles lifting a sail boat
A pink and turquoise kraken seizes a sailing boat

Kraken are giant, predatory sea creatures from the North, something like an octopus or squid. This one has, not unusually for its sort, seized hold of a passing sail boat and now has the terrified mariners at its mercy (unless, as we cannot see any onboard, they were all partying onshore when the kraken sneaked into the harbour). It’s a detail from a painting on a hotel car park wall we stopped to admire.

Strictly speaking, the second is fence art. It’s a detail too, of a large design featuring birds, animals and vegetation that runs around the back patio of a restaurant in Key West. It’s worth reading this one upwards, so you get used to each level of the story before taking the next leap.

Pink flamingos, one with a crown, painted on a fence
Pink flamingos painted on a fence

First, leafy foliage with two pink flamingos. So far so good. They wear a decorative form of eye makeup.  One is wearing a coronation crown that Queen Elizabeth II would not be ashamed of (it looks lighter than her own). The artist has added a scroll and swirl design to add movement and break up the background. A space craft is leaving the scene to fly off into a universe of stars.

Blue parrot and its shadow seen through an arch | Key West street art
Trompe l’oeil street art with blue parrot

Sea, sky, sand, shadow, marble, tile and parrot, the whole designed to trick our eye into accepting this as real. Some textural wear and tear adds its own layer of reality.

Painting of a lady with a cane walking towards the beach
Painted chairs and an atmospheric painting decorate a porch in Key West

My favourite vignette from Key West is more art in the street than street art, but I’ve added it to give a flavour of the place. It’s rare to see a framed painting hung outdoors where I’m from.

All of this is so beautifully done. The painted wooden chair backs in the foreground echo the colours of the painting’s frame and carry some of the same imagery from the picture, in a contrasting style. The patio’s turquoise shutters and pink bannister reflect the colours of the house in the painting.

The painting shows a lady with a basket and cane walking down a path to the beach between white picket fences; palm trees lean overhead and flowers and foliage escape from the gardens on either side. I don’t know her history, but the artist has showed me her grace in the drift of her skirt. The edge of the painting forms a frame within a frame, having a wonderful patina that gives an impression of age.

I take a little extra pleasure in the way the angle of the photograph, helped out by the colour and the wood’s texture, looks at a glance to be of one large, decorative chair, forcing the mind to slow down, re-assess and pay attention to the separate parts and the way they add up. Perhaps that’s just the way my mind works!

Shared for Patti’s Lens Artists Challenge: Street Art.

29 Replies to “Street Art, Key West, Florida Keys”

  1. Interesting: I felt something of the same thing Laurie did. To me, the house looks abandoned and the woman seems focused on the darkening sky. I am also struck by the position of the chairs, which seem to be back-to-back, as though forbidding conversation. The whole of it is marvelously narrative no matter what the interpretation. Ditto the other pieces. What grand imagination exercises! Thanks!

    1. ‘Marvellously narrative’ says it well – one you could look at and interpret for a lifetime. I think the chairs were from different tables – the framing is deceptive.

  2. I love he way the sails were done in the first photo and as for the painting in the last photo, I wouldn’t mind having that to hang somewhere. When I got to the last photo I did think (for an instant at first) I was looking at a painting on the back of a chair.

    1. I’m glad it’s not just me! I’d love to be able to hang it somewhere too. It seems like a piece that some of the painters we, as a society, revere would have liked to own.

  3. There’s something for everybody when it comes to street art, isn’t there, Susan? I especially like the last one 🙂 🙂

    1. It’s as if the painter painted a story for us and though we can’t read it as we could words, we feel it, each according to our experience.

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