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November 21, 2018 – (Key West, FL).  Key West Art & Historical Society Distinguished Speaker Series presents local folk artist Wayne Garcia: storytelling through intaglio

On Thursday, December 6 at 6:00pm, Key West Art & Historical Society’s Distinguished Speaker Series welcomes local folk artist Wayne Garcia to the Custom House Museum, 281 Front Street, where he will discuss the techniques and inspiration for his colorful, bas-relief wood carvings that depict the vivid particulars and street scenes of the third generation Cuban-American’s childhood.

The Key West native learned the techniques of carving on wood from watching legendary folk artists Mario Sanchez and Papito Suarez, using many of the tools, substrates, and methods they utilized: standard wood chisels purchased at the hardwood store, a rubber or wood mallet, and small pieces of pointy glass to smooth out the images, get into small corners, and scrape the pine, mahogany, or cedar after carving instead of using sandpaper.

“A trick I learned from Mario,” he says.

In the tradition of these mentors, Garcia’s shallow relief sculptures etched in wood reveal an important and colorful doorway to the cultural history of the island and its people—a cigar smoker on a colorful Conch house porch, cyclists pedaling down the street, brazen roosters, broody snappers, boys playing baseball, and Poinciana trees blazing against the chiseled horizon. It’s a snapshot of time that offers the sense of shared community found amid the island city of his youth.

Garcia attributes many of the memories he captures to his 88-year-old mother and 98-year-old uncle, both born and still living in Key West. Through their shared conversations, Garcia recalls stories of how Key West used to be, especially in the 60s as a child on Simonton Street, where his mother has lived since 1941, and transports himself through time and space to make his creations.

“I have to go into that neighborhood, into that domino game, into that kitchen with the lady writing the numbers of the Bolita tickets,” he says. “I have to be living it for it to work.”

A resident artist at the Gallery on Greene since 2012, Garcia has lectured and demonstrated his work in New York City at the South Street Seaport Museum and in Havana Cuba at the National Museum of Fine Arts. With his delightful accounts of Key West’s past coupled with images of his intaglios, Garcia paints a picture of an island paradise rich in community and culture.

“This type of art is pretty unique to this island,” he says.  “Not only the intaglio, but how we used the images as a way to show our history.”

Garcia’s presentation will be followed by a champagne reception in the gallery, where his work is currently on display as part of the “Islands, Imagination, and Instance: Florida Keys Folk Art exhibit.

Distinguished Speaker Series presentation tickets are $5 for Society members, $10 for non-members, and are available at, click “tickets.” Early ticket purchase is recommended.  Sponsored by the Helmerich Trust. For more information, contact Dani Holliday at 305.295.6616 x 114. Your Museums.  Your Community.  It takes an Island.

Photo Caption:

Snow Philip of Key West admires woodcarvings by folk artist Wayne Garcia at the opening of the Custom House Museum exhibit, “Islands, Imagination, and Instance: Florida Keys Folk Art.”  Garcia is to discuss the techniques and inspiration for his colorful, bas-relief wood carvings at a December 6, 6:00pm, Distinguished Speaker Series presentation at the Custom House Museum. The ““Islands, Imagination, and Instance: Florida Keys Folk Art” exhibit runs through Sunday, January 6 in the Bryan Gallery of the Custom House Museum, 281 Front Street.