The bald facts of Mario Sanchez's life are much like anyone else's who had the good fortune to be born in Key West, live a full life and die there. In this case 7th October 1908 till 28th April 2005. 96 years well spent.
Luckily for all concerned Sanchez devoted a large portion of his life to his art, which like all good art in my opinion started as a way to please himself and such was his pleasure it made a name for itself.
The Art and History Museum has an exhibit devoted to Sanchez and his particular way of recording his daily life in Key West. No pixels and web pages for Mario Sanchez. He worked with wood and chiseled out a record of town life through the 20th century. There is even a video of the young(er) artist discussing his work.
The intaglio art of Sanchez was recognized in 1996 by Folk Art magazine which is, according to the Gallery on Greene, quite the bee's knees. Check their website.
Also in the museum they have recreated his unique outdoor studio. The writer Hemingway's penchant for writing while standing is widely reporters by the guides at his former home. Back problems suck! But Sanchez's studio was in itself a perfect representation of that which we enjoy about the Florida Keys.
In a state devoted to all possible denial of the outdoors and the natural, the land of enclosed malls and "swamp" drainage we in the Keys have the chance to enjoy sea breezes and the smell of salt water and the silence of empty back streets. In a peninsula that encourages development over reflection, Sanchez's work and the manner in which it was produced is a reminder, in wood and color that a contemplative way of life is possible in Florida's southernmost islands.
Whimsy and animals, magic and then unexpected are part of Keys life, ably represented in Sanchez's work.
Part of the joy of the work is the ability of the observer to recognize parts of Key West. Like everything else in this constantly evolving town, memory is hip. The further back you can remember the more "street cred" you acquire. I find this need to prove oneself rather tedious but my earliest memories of Key West only go back to 1981, and not much do I remember of that first visit (by Vespa as it happens).
There's lots of Sanchez to see at the museum and it's website.
I leave you with an image of "la flaca" enjoying coconut ice cream. Such was her appetite she ended up "la gorda." Sanchez's observations were not trite or saccharine. They hint at the daily struggle of living in close quarters on a small island. Everyone knows your business. And some people appreciate it.
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