March 4, 2020 — (Key West, FL). Key West Art & Historical Society Kinetic Parade Honors Pioneering Florida Keys Folk Artist Stanley Papio
The Fifth Annual Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade— a family-friendly, art-inspired, human-powered mobile sculpture and art-bike parade that celebrates creativity and innovation—is set to roll on Saturday, April 4, followed by complimentary entry into the “Stanley Papio: Junkyard Rebel” exhibit featuring more than 100 of the late artist’s large-scale sculptures on Sunday, April 5 at Fort East Martello Museum, 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd. While many are gearing up their kinetic creations, others might be wondering, just who exactly is Papio? And why a parade named after him?
“Barefoot” Stanley Papio was a Florida Keys’ folk artist whose ingenuity and spirit sparked our islands more than thirty years ago with his clever sense of satire, tenacity, and innovation. He arrived in Key Largo in 1949, when the upper Keys were little more than an isolated stretch of Highway U.S. 1, and lived there contentedly for many years using welding skills acquired in the U.S. Army during World War II for both commercial and creative purposes. Over time, his yard, piled high with old cars, washing machines, and other metal appliances surrounded by a welded bed spring fence, became a treasure trove of recyclable materials that he would transform into art.
Unfortunately, as the area developed and the space between him and his neighbors diminished, what he saw as potential art, others simply called junk. Despite the mounting pressure, which included being jailed six times for zoning violations, his innovative and rebellious spirit continued to evolve.
True to his irreverent nature, Papio renamed his welding shop “Stanley’s Art Museum” and charged a quarter for admission, ultimately creating a roadside exhibition of folk art for travelers as well as a repository for his often comical and caustic creations. Critics, collectors and museum owners eventually discovered this outsider artist, all recognizing his creativity, imagination, and remarkable welding skills. Later, he exhibited his work in Canada and his work toured Europe as part of the U.S. State Department’s America Now exhibition. He is listed in the Directory of American Folk Art and The World Encyclopedia of Naive Art.
Papio’s vision to have a traveling exhibition ended abruptly when he died of a heart attack at the age of 67 in 1982. But his work, which was donated by his family shortly after his death to the Key West Art & Historical Society, is now housed at Fort East Martello Museum, where more than 100 of his restored sculptural objects and other three-dimensional constructions are on revolving display in a climate-controlled gallery. While he never had the chance to have his own traveling exhibition, the spirit of his vision travels on annually in the Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade, which features community-made kinetic sculpture float teams and art bikes created with his rebellious ingenuity, recyclability, and humor in mind.
Channel your inner Papio and sign up to make your own kinetic sculpture float or art bike today and add to the zany fun sure to be had on parade day, April 4th. For registration information, guidelines, and a full event schedule, visit papiokineticparade.com. Presented by Key West Art & Historical Society and co-produced by Wonderdog Studios, the family-friendly kinetic extravaganza is supported in part by the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, The Helmerich Trust, Destination Florida, Historic Tours of America, Kimpton Key West, Law Offices of Samuel J. Kaufman, P.A., and Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina. Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.
Stanley Papio 1:
The Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade, presented annually by Key West Art & Historical Society and co-produced by Wonderdog Studios, honors rebel sculptor Stanley Papio, pictured here in Key Largo, Florida, 1977. (Photo provided by Florida Department of State, Division of Library & Information Services.)