East Martello Art Gallery in Key West

The East Martello Art Gallery is a must-visit destination for anyone with a passion for art. The gallery features both rotating and permanent exhibits of local art, including the bold primitives of Mario Sanchez and the bizarre ‘junk art’ of Stanley Papio. Papio, a Key Largo resident, was despised by his neighbors during his lifetime due to his work as a junk dealer. However, after his death in 1982, his unique sculptures made of used car parts, bedsprings, toilet fixtures, and vacuum cleaners gained status in the Keys and are now highly regarded for their clever mockery of modern life.

Sculpture of a Las Vegas model made by Stanley Papio displayed at the East Martello Museum in Key West.
Sculpture of a Las Vegas model made by Stanley Papio at the East Martello Museum in Key West.

Just two miles west of the East Martello Tower is the West Martello Tower, located facing the ocean near the White Street Pier. Although less impressive than the eastern tower, the western tower was built in 1861 and was used as a lookout post during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Despite its weathered and worn appearance, the tower remains close to the heart of the city, and for decades has been a target of vandals and thieves who steal the valuable red bricks for their patios and gardens. The tower’s pock-marked facade is a testament to its use as a target for gunnery practice. Within the walls of the tower is the Key West Garden Club, which hosts a series of orchid shows and sales of colorful indigenous plants. The gardens are worth a visit for those interested in horticulture and offer a peaceful respite from the bustling city.

If you are looking for nearby accommodations, we suggest considering the Santa Maria Suites Resort, located just a short distance from both the East and West Martello Towers. This luxurious resort offers spacious suites and is within walking distance of many popular Key West attractions.

In addition to the Martello Towers and the Key West Garden Club, there are many other sights to see in the area. One popular destination is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, located just a few blocks from the East Martello Tower. The museum is housed in the former home of the famous writer and features exhibits about his life and work. Another nearby attraction is the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, which is home to hundreds of colorful butterflies and tropical birds.

After exploring the forts and museums, spend a relaxing afternoon at one of Key West’s beaches. Although they may not be the most pristine beaches in Florida, they offer great opportunities for people-watching and an overall atmosphere of fun. Some of the most popular beaches include Smathers Beach, Higgs Beach, and South Beach.

For those looking for a more active afternoon, consider renting a bicycle and exploring the city on two wheels. Key West has many bike rental shops and the city’s flat terrain makes for easy riding. Another popular activity is kayaking in the mangrove forests surrounding the city.

For accommodations near the beaches, we suggest the Parrot Key Hotel and Villas, located just a short distance from Smathers Beach. This resort features tropical gardens, a private beach, and luxurious villas.

In conclusion, Key West offers a wide variety of attractions and activities for visitors of all interests. From art galleries to historic forts to beautiful beaches, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant culture and experience all that Key West has to offer.

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