Friday, January 22, 2010

Key West Folk Artist, Mario Sanchez

This cover of the Yellow Pages in Key West caught my eye. It is a folk art rendering of a Key West scene from the artist's childhood. Mario Sanchez is the signed name. I saw there was an exhibit of his work at The Custom House Museum down by the seaport. I had to go and see his art in person.

First (and of course, most importantly) I was amazed that they let me bring my little dog into the museum. Then I was blown away by Mr. Sanchez's work. He was born in Key West in 1908 and lived here until the age of 96, passing away in 2006. He was the son of a cigar maker and a self-taught artist . From the phone book I was under the impression that it was a primitive painting. I was extremely surprised that these pieces were hand carved wood and then painted. The detail is impeccable. I wish that I could find photos with a high enough resolution so that you could see the actual carving.

Each piece (and there were many) was accompanied by a placard with a story about life in Key West, really stories about his childhood. From the time that their neighbor, Ernest Hemingway, brought over some sailfish to showing his father at work as a "reader" in the cigar factory. While the men rolled cigars, his father would read to them - the news from the newspapers in the morning and from a novel in the afternoon. You can see him standing on a podium towards the left side.

There was a short video showing Mr. Sanchez at work outside of his home with his chisels and paints. What a great exhibit - a hidden gem.

There isn't much on the web about Mario Sanchez , but if you would like to see more of his work, this is the best website that I have found.


  1. Loved his art. Thanks for pointing me to it. Linda

  2. C: so neat about M.Sanchez! Great building, nice pink taxi. I think you ought to get involved with local visitor center. You're doing a great job promoting KW. CK

  3. CK - I would love to be an ambassador for Key West. It truly is Paradise. The weather, the food and the arts scene are magnificent.


Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear from you.