The East Martello Art Gallery has rotating and permanent exhibit of local art including bold primitives by Mario Sanchez, and th bizarre ‘junk art’ of Stanley Papio. Despised by his neighbors dur ing his lifetime, Papio was a junk dealer who lived in Key Largo and maintained a “junkyard museum” at is own home.
His crude but charming abstract sculptures – made of used car parts, bedsprings, toilet fixtures, and vacuum clean- ers gained status in the Keys after his death in 1982, and are now highly regarded for their clever mockery of modern life.
About 2 miles to the west of the East Martello Tower, facing the ocean near the White Street Pier, is the West Martello Tower. Far less impressive than the eastern one, the western tower was built in 1861 and used as a lookout post during the Spanish-America War of 1898.
Looking weathered and worn, it is close to the heart ol the city, and for decades has been the victim of vandals and thieve who steal the valuable red bricks for their patios and gardens. It was also once used as a target for gunnery practice, which explains its pock-marked facade. Within the walls of the tower is the Key West Garden Club (Wednesday to Sunday 10 -11- 30am and 1-3.30pm, tel: 294 3210).
This organization uses the property to host a series of orchid shows and sales of colorful indigenous plants, which are worth a visit by the horticulturally-minded.
After a morning touring the forts, there are three beaches to choose from for an afternoon of sunbathing and swimming. Unfortunately, Key West beaches are not the cream of the crop, but they do offer great opportunities for people-watching and an overall atmosphere of fun.
Most are man-made with sand imported from the Bahamas or other parts of Florida. They’re also dotted with sea- weed and annoying little rocks. And the waters offshore are shallow which means you have to go a long way out to actually swim although this does make them safe for children.
All this considered, these three beaches are still very popular with both Key West tourist and locals.
InsideMiamiBeach.com, like no other.