Curator’s Weekly Tours for Visitors and School Classes
By curating an exhibit and writing a catalogue at Key West Art & Historical museum and giving a curator's tour weekly to locals, visitors and school classes. This Sanchez retrospective is set up so that the viewer can see the history of Key West through the eyes of the artist. Mario Sanchez: 100 Years & Better Than Everâ at The Customs House Museum.
Though Sanchez's work is undeniably charming, he had a politically savvy perspective on the island, attuned to its special geography and history.
In 1776 The United States of America were born, and nearly 50 years later Florida became part of the union. Ninety miles away from Key West, Cuban revolutionaries were still fighting for independence from Spain and struggling for gender, racial, and religious tolerance from the 1800s on. Although the first settlers to the island were slaveholders from the Bahamas, by the 1850s Key West had so many political refugees from Cuba that the population was largely of Spanish extraction and varying ethnicities. The very first integrated factories and schools in the South were here in Key West, along with the first African-American church.
The island's inhabitants, still known as Conchs today, get their name from Bahamian loyalist slogan: I'd rather eat conch than fight King George! But by the middle of the 19th century, they were outnumbered by the utopian exiles from Cuba. This rich mix of cultures and traditions informs the subjects of Mario Sanchez's drawings and intaglios. Like many other immigrants to the United States, his philosophy was threefold: work hard, live free, and ensure justice for all. And in Key West and Mario's world there was a third component: look for the humor in the everyday.
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