By C.S. Gilbert

The Culture Vulture (“If it isn’t worth seeing, you’ll find out here!”)

The second annual Art! Key West! opened with an energy that earned its exclamation marks last evening. As with most festivals and conferences worth attending, there was simply too much interesting stuff offered to begin to attend it all.

As kickoff we chose BottleCap’s every Friday charity happy hour, which supported the ballet: “Nutcracker Key West,” presented biannually, was in its fallow year, but fundraising continues. Creator, costumer and producer Joyce Stahl was on hand and she and her elves had decorated the Groove Lounge as elegantly as we’ve ever seen it, a fantasy of holiday décor and teddy bears. Attendance was disappointing, but they’ll have another shot at it on Dec. 20, the Cap’s Queen Carolyn Sullivan said. Come on, folks. This is a project which deserves support.

 

So too, not incidentally, are two other upcoming dance concerts: the KW Contemporary Dance Theater with the support of Coffee Mill Dance Studio at Tennessee Williams Theater on Fri., Dec. 6—damnably a direct 8 p.m. conflict with the Keys Chorale’s holiday concert at Old Stone Church—and Allison Mayer FKCC troupe, with pros imported from Miami, soon after. Stay tuned.

 

Back to Art! Key West! The opening reception at the Pottery Factory at Truman and Grinnell transformed that corner strip mall into a real Happening from the 60s or 70s; there was the pottery gallery opening, featuring some excellent painting and multi-media collage as well, the Under 25 debut, best left un-discussed, and a carnival outside including surrealistic projections, live mural painting, and some excellent samples of designer rum by Papa’s Pilar (check out Dark and Stormy and Blonde and Stormy—not much difference, seemed to us; both were yummy).

 

Then we were off to the Coffee Mill for both a performance by their accomplished youth troupe (sorry, no program for IDs) dancing to bits of “Nutcracker,” and finally a quartet of bravura short performances by the superbly accomplished actors of Key West Fringe. Special mention to Annie Miners and Ross Pipkin for a duo of excellent monologues—and to Peggy Montgomery for both an almost-monologue and—perhaps more difficult—a role in which she has to do nothing but sit and react to Miners’ nuanced tonguelashing.

 

Remember that Fringe KW opens its 2013-14 season with the unfortunately adolescently titled “Cock”—the locally resonant metaphor is in fact a cockfight, which we think would have made a much better title—running at TSKW two weeks only, Dec. 4-7 and 11-14. Tickets available from keystix.com.

 

Art! Key West! continues throughout the weekend, with events surrounding Lower Duval all day tomorrow, a highlight of which will be the Custom House’s 4 p.m. unveiling of their bevy of muralists and a subsequent Block Party. Y’all come!