Nation’s Kinetic Parade Craze Hits Key West with Third Annual Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade Set for May 5
Key West has long been known for its kinetic energy, but on Saturday, May 5 at 5:00pm, it’s about to become quite literal when the Third Annual Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade rolls through downtown Key West with its cavalcade of art-inspired, human-powered, mobile sculptures, and art bikes, ending at the waterfront amphitheater for “Cinco de Papio Family-Friendly Party,” a three-hour festival of food, games, libations, and live music fun. The Parade and festival celebrate creativity and innovation while honoring Stanley Papio, a Florida Keys’ pioneering folk artist whose recycled metal sculptures teem with a clever sense of satire, tenacity, and innovation— key ingredients in kinetic parades across the country.
The first Kinetic Sculpture Race rolled down the road in 1969 in Ferndale, California, and later grew to include national cutting-edge race events in Humbolt, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Port Townshend. Since then, many communities have joined the kinetic craze, offering their own variation of these floats-with-moving-parts-parades. Kinetic-inspired dream machine creators spend months designing and building their sculptures, then must complete a course over terrain that varies from muddy roads to swift-flowing rivers.
Key West Art & Historical Society, steward to the island’s cultural heritage, took the region’s laid-back attitude and rebel ingenuity into account when kicking off its own Parade in May 2016, eliminating the “race” component from the mix but adding the element of “art bikes” for the town known for its pedaling revelers. Arising from a long-percolating idea of former KWAHS staff member Gerri Sidoti, which won the support of a prestigious Knight Arts Challenge grant—which rewards the best and most innovative ideas in the arts—and the additional support of the Helmerich Trust, the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, and the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade was set in motion.
“As the parade enters its third year, we are excited to see this event grow both in support and participation! We are thrilled to join the ranks of kinetic events around the country in providing engaging, community-focused offerings that merge art, science, history and fun,” says Society Executive Director Michael Gieda.
In the past Papio Parade’s, spectators have been treated to the sight of astonishingly imaginative, totally human-powered works of art traversing the length of historic Duval Street, including a supersized narwhal that winked at spectators, a pelican whose widespread wings flapped as it towed “parasailing” minnows, a 15-foot-long silver “time machine” made of moving gears and cogs with a futuristically-costumed human pilot, an eagle ray powered by three bicycling men dressed as remoras, and a “ship” with waves, straight out of “Where The Wild Things Are.”
With the 2018 creations being built by several “Papio Ambassadors” artist teams selected and sponsored from winning application proposals, and several school registrants supported by scholarships and led by “Kinetic Coaches” Suzanne Brown and Steve Linden, this year’s Parade promises to offer another astounding visual feast for the senses. Parade-goers can expect spectacular kinetic sculpture floats and art bikes from Papio Ambassador teams Dee Dee Green, Ryan Stachurski, Chilly Willy, Marley Claridge, John “Johnny O” Ortiz, Austin Daly, Zac Lower, Chuck Butler, Yvonne Jefferson, Leia Bryan, Robert Clockars, and canines Nouba and Henry; Cody White, Ryan Saca, and Alex Holst; Jeremy Hackworth; Melissa McDaniel and Neal Ruchman; Suzanne Brown; David Hutchinson; Virginia Wark; Cayman Smith-Martin; and David “DJ” Johnson.
Accompanying Papio weekend events include: Friday’s May 4, 6:00pm to 7:00pm presentation by artist/inventor Steve King titled “The Art of Parade Sculptures” at the Custom House Museum, followed by a porch party with a wine and beer cash bar; Saturday’s “Cinco de Papio Family-Friendly Party,” a post-parade festival at Key West Amphitheatre featuring the awards ceremony, food trucks, libations, a kid’s zone, DJs, and the internationally acclaimed “acous-tronic” band Poi Dog Pondering; and Sunday’s free museum entry to Fort East Martello from 11:30pm to 4:30pm, spotlighting the Stanley Papio exhibit.
Show up for the May 5 Parade at the Custom House or south of Southard on Duval Street, or get your ticket and a lawn chair and head over to the Key West Amphitheater to enjoy the festival and watch the floats and art bikes roll in. Or register your own kinetic sculpture float or art bike now to add to the kinetic frenzy of fun and a “free”-wheeling good time at the post-parade festival.
For registration information, event schedule, entry guidelines, festival tickets, and sponsorship information, visit www.papiokineticparade.com. The Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of the Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida. Additional “Papio’s Pals” support provided by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, Historic Tours of America, Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina, Jimmy Lane Realty, Premier Painting, Keys Insulation, Keys Camping Gear, and Blue on White. Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.
A three-wheeled bike cleverly disguised as a lionfish is peddled past the judge’s stand at last year’s Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade. This year’s extravaganza of imagination is set for Saturday, May 5. Sign up to enter your own art bike or kinetic sculpture float at papiokineticparade.com.