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August 6, 2019 – (Key West, FL). Key West Art & Historical Society celebrates the work of WPA-era artist Martha Watson Sauer at Custom House Museum

Key West Art & Historical Society honors the plein air artworks of Martha Watson Sauer in a solo exhibit which opens with a special reception on Friday, August 23 from 6:00pm -7:00pm and runs through November 10, 2019 in the Bumpus Gallery at the Custom House Museum, 281 Front Street. Surroundings: Watercolors by Martha Watson Sauer pays tribute to more than half a century of Sauer’s work, which also include her personal effects and sketchbooks.

Highlights include Key West architecture, people, and landscapes as well as watercolorsfrom Sauer’s extensive travels around Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and across the United States. They demonstrate a mastery that attracted the likes of artists employed by the Work Progress Administration sent to the island during the Great Depression to encourage tourism.

The nearly 70-year Key West resident arrived in Key West in 1936 during the Great Depression, drawn to the island after seeing the work of Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) artist Avery Johnson on display at a Miami travel agency.   Once there, she created lino-block prints for tourist brochures promoting destinations such as Key West Municipal Aquarium, the Hemingway House, West Martello, and the Peggy Mills House.  WPA members lent their guidance, particularly F. Townsend Morgan, and Sauer became an original member of the Key West Art Center, then known as the WPA’s Key West Community Art Center.

“My aim is to transmit to paper the delights of nature and the out-of-doors; the sun’s heat and the deep cool of shadow,” she said.  “My paintings are not puzzles.  I like what I see and try my best to present the scene so others may share in the enjoyment of it.”

Prior to her death in 2006, she created a vast body of artwork and served as a teacher of watercolor painting and weaving in the Key West arts community.  Today, her works hang in private collections in Switzerland, Japan, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, including the Key West Art Center located at 301 Front Street.

For more information call Cori Convertito, Ph.D., at 305-295-6616 x112, email her at, or visit  Your Museums.  Your Community.  It Takes an Island. 


A solo exhibit celebrating the plein air artworks of Martha Watson Saue opens at the Custom House Museum, 281 Front Street, with a special reception from 6:00pm to 7:00pm on Friday, August 23 and runs through November 10. (Image courtesy Key West Art & Historical Society.)