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Category: Arts

KEY WEST STUDENT CHOSEN AS 1 OF 50 ‘FREEDOM WRITERS’ WORLDWIDE

When their struggles became stories, young writers became warriors. Remember the 2007 movie, “Freedom Writers,” with Hilary Swank as California teacher Erin Gruwell, who transformed a class of students that others had deemed “unteachable?”  The movie’s true story about Gruwell’s high school initiative that turned at-risk students into authors has grown exponentially into a global curriculum that trains teachers to transform students by introducing them to relevant reading material and the emotional release of writing. Claire Schoonover, a Key West High School sophomore, was recently chosen...

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KEY WEST’S GENERAL HORSEPLAY IS SERIOUS ABOUT LIVE MUSIC

In a town with a stellar music scene, General Horseplay is quickly becoming a destination for a great live music experience. From the on-stage talent and sound and lighting experts, to the friendly staff and overall hip, welcoming vibe, General Horseplay is making a name for itself alongside some of the other long-standing live music venues on the island. “My vision is to have a safe and inviting atmosphere for all,” said general manager Andre Amador. “We strive to offer the best cocktails in town, along with the best customer service and to provide an unforgettable experience. Not only do we...

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PETER MAX’S ICONIC ART NOW AVAILABLE IN KEY WEST

Peter Max’s world didn’t always include the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen and Super Bowl stars. His life wasn’t always as vibrantly reassuring as the iconic paintings in signature colors that would come to define the artist — and an entire pop art movement. The artist who has painted for six U.S. presidents, five Super Bowls and countless rock stars was born Peter Max Finkelstein in October 1937 in Berlin, Germany. His parents fled the Nazi regime a year later, moving among China, Israel and Paris. The family finally settled in Brooklyn, New York when their son, now known simply...

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MUSICIAN TONY BALTIMORE FINE TUNES HIS STYLE IN KEY WEST

The past decade has defined Tony Baltimore as a performer, songwriter and musician. Baltimore (whose last name is really Durante) moved to Key West from Baltimore, Maryland in February 2011. Like many who love our hometowns, he had grown tired of his and was looking for a change. His longtime friend Nick Doll had recently moved to Key West and suggested Tony come down.  I also moved to Key West in 2011 from Columbus, Ohio, only a month after Tony. We met soon thereafter, and I became a friend and a fan. His journey has been both remarkable and inspirational to me. I recently had occasion to...

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OCEAN BLUE GALLERIES MAKES FINE ART FUN ON DUVAL STREET

From hypnotic blue oceans and bronze elephants to glass muppets and classic cartoon characters, Ocean Blue Galleries is making fine art a fun and affordable investment. Owners Jay and Amber Shaffer opened the Key West location of their Ocean Blue Galleries on May 1 at 109 Duval St., after the pandemic put multiple Key West art galleries out of business.  “We brought on a lot of artists who just couldn’t keep their gallery doors open during COVID,” said Jay Shaffer. “Talented artists like James Coleman and Anna Sweet who had to close their Key West galleries would quickly have found homes...

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DEBORAH MITCHELL’S SHOW AT THE STUDIOS BLENDS ART, SCIENCE & ACTIVISM

Florida is one long, downhill slide, at least in an environmental sense. What happens in the Central Florida ranch lands affects Lake Okeechobee, which affects the sod farms south of the lake, which affects the Everglades, which affects Florida Bay, which affects the Keys and its reefs and, in somewhat diminishing amplitudes, the rest of the world. Places overlap and ecosystems blur together. Attempts to discern and define the boundaries of each is the road to madness, or at least the road to seriously befuddling cognitive dissonance.  Deborah Mitchell has spent the last few years delving...

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Marathon artist strikes the right chord

In the heart of the Florida Keys, I recently discovered a hidden treasure. I was not out on Sombrero Beach with a metal detector, nor did I uncover it while snorkeling out on Looe Key reef. This treasure I found in the corridors of Stanley Switlik Elementary School. Christopher Willis is the school guidance counselor by job title, but he is so much more. He serves as a mentor to countless students, helping them find their way to success in the classroom and in life. Honored by the Monroe County School District as a Counselor of the Year and respected by all who know him, when I first met Chris...

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BOOK-LOVIN’ MAMAS, THIS IS YOUR JAM

Every May we celebrate Mother’s Day filled with candy, cards and flowers, sometimes even breakfast in bed! We honor the women who care for others, the generations that came before and those that raised us. These five timeless books beautifully share one of life’s most complicated and rewarding relationships. My Name is Lucy BartonBy Elizabeth Strout Lucy Barton lies in the hospital after a routine surgery that has unexpectedly left her very ill. The doctors have it under control, but Lucy is beginning to despair. As a young mother she misses her two daughters, her husband and the life she...

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KEYS CHORAL ARTS OFFERS CHORUS OF MOTHER’S DAY WISHES

Chorus. Glee Club. Choir. Call it whatever you’d like, as long as you also listen to it. The blending of harmonies, melodies and ranges creates a powerful collective voice that you can’t help but enjoy. As anyone knows who has stood on risers to sing in a school auditorium that doubled as a cafeteria, there’s something fundamentally enjoyable about choral music. Those glee club students have all grown up and are now part of Keys Choral Arts, a nonprofit chorus that performs two concerts a year — one in the spring and one at Christmastime — under the direction of Tim Peterson. Keys Choral Arts...

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KEY WEST CONCERT BENEFITS MUSIC ICON BILL BLUE

The musical lineup read like a Who’s Who of the Key West music scene. Dozens of performers, producers and sound technicians shared their sound and donated their time and talent for the April 17 Bill Blue Most Exceptional Benefit Concert, which raised money to help legendary bluesman Bill Blue, who lost his voice to cancer. Performers included CW Colt, Barry Cuda, Mick Kilgos, Kim Jad? Fry, Gabriel Wright, Chris Rehm, Adrienne Z, Claire Finley, Ray West, Tony Baltimore, Tony Roberts, Dani Hoy, Joey Marchiano, Kenny Fradley, The Happy Dog, Larry Baeder, Gary Hempsey, Ericson Holt, Julianna MacDowell,...

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