Key West’s citywide explosion of Fantasy Fest revelries are set to launch this year from The Studios of Key West, with special opening events taking place from 6-8pm, Thursday, October 19, and running through October 26 on two floors of the landmark Art Deco building at 533 Eaton Street.
Celebrating this year’s “Time Travel Unravels” theme, the ground floor Sanger Gallery presents a pop-up Fantasy Fest Parade Lab – part production shop, part exhibition space – where the festival’s exciting 38-year history of costumed marches, glamorous balls, street fairs, pet masquerades, parties, exhibits and charity fundraisers can be explored through posters, photographs, memorabilia and video projections.
“We’re excited to be one of the hubs for Fantasy Fest 2017,” said The Studios of Key West Artistic Director Erin Stover-Sickman. “Through the 26th, the first floor Parade Lab will be filled with work on display, people making things, and be a place where people can get Fest information or just gather up.”
Upstairs, in the 3rd floor XOJ Gallery, visitors can tap into “Street Level,” a more candid, photojournalistic view of the Fest, as documented by photographers Lynne Bentley-Kemp, Mark Hedden, Martha Hubbard and Carol Tedesco.
“Every year since 1993 I have been a participant and documenter of Fantasy Fest,” said Cudjoe Key-based photographer Bentley-Kemp. “This ritual is a true collaboration of the wonderful, creative people who have no qualms about expressing their indulgence in anarchy and liminality. I am a big fan of the transgressive and the salacious and I’ve never been disappointed. This is the only time that I intentionally photograph people – it is where I begin to see the total joy of individual expression. The result is a collection of images that reflects a bawdy and raucous celebration of community. It is a profound statement about the condition of being human.”
The Studios of Key West was established in 2006 and supports the creative community as a multidisciplinary presenter, arts center and artist residency provider. “The Studios’ motto is “Live the Creative Life,” because we believe creativity helps people come together and make sense of things,” said Elena Devers, The Studios Deputy Director. “After Hurricane Irma, we’re ready to get back into the swing of things and offer up opportunities to do just that. And if we can throw in some much-needed laughter or the chance to see something wonderful, we’d consider our mission accomplished.”