The Key West Art & Historical Society recently acquired 14 original pieces of artwork created by Suzie dePoo, the venerated Key West artist recognized as a legacy to the island’s arts community through more than fifty years of art work, support of other artists and the large body of work she produced for Key West Hand Print Fabrics.
The acquisition consists of painted tiles mounted on wood, several paintings on reclaimed wood, two ink on paper images, and a large textile print that reflect the classical romantic influences she incorporated in much of her work.
“The artwork spans the width and breadth of her amazing artistic talents,” says Cori Convertito, Curator at The Society’s three museums. “Because she was such a versatile artist, dePoo did not limit herself to just one medium. While she might be best known for her watercolor creations, she also designed works using tile, reclaimed wood, wire, sea glass, textiles and even dabbled in stained glass.”
The collection was owned by deceased Jacquolyn Staubs, a former shop manager, merchandizing manager and pinners model for Key West Hand Print Fabric who worked closely with Lilly Pulitzer and knew dePoo well. Staub’s son Jacq “recognized the importance of returning the entire collection to Key West,” says Convertito, and contacted The Society about the acquisition.
“Understanding the Society’s mission ‘to preserve the culture of the Florida Keys’, it was only fitting for the organization to evaluate the likelihood of securing the collection,” she says. “Ultimately, it was decided that the Society should obtain the artwork, thereby preserving it for future generations.”
The acquisition comes just months after The Society featured the celebrated and eclectic artist with an exhibit that displayed her talents while working at Key West Hand Print Fabrics for more than three decades. dePoo was a staff designer for the factory that employed up to two hundred locals at a time while pushing out up to four miles of fabric a week. She also created many of the designs that would go on to become Lilly Pulitzer’s trademark signatures, which are still in high demand and have reached mainstream status in Target stores nation-wide.
The pieces will join others in The Society’s collection, including a life-sized wire sculpture of St. Francis, large painting of animals on a sheet of plywood, and several items designed by dePoo during her time at Key West Hand Print Fabrics. They will be placed on display in the Custom House foyer by the end of the year.
The acquisition reinforces KWAHS as the cornerstone and guardian of art and history in the community, and like any other museum, they continue to seek to add significant objects to its permanent collection relevant to its mission statement.
“If the Society can preserve, exhibit and educate with the objects, then we can deem ourselves fulfilling an important role in the community,” Convertito says. “Objects are typically offered to the Society on a donation basis, although there are times, like this one, where the Society resolves to use funds to purchase objects of extraordinary importance.”
The acquisition was made possible through the generous gift of Margo Golan, now deceased. Golan left a bequest to the Society in support of the capital improvements to the Custom House and acquiring artwork and objects for the organization’s collection, with special consideration to Mario Sanchez and other local artists like dePoo.
For more information or to make your own donation to the KWAHS collection or collection fund, visit https://www.kwahs.org/collections/donating-objects/ or contact Cori Convertito at 295.6616 x 112.