“The Life & Art of Stanley Papio” to be next KWAHS Happy Hour with the Historian Event

Key Largo welder and folk artist Stanley Papio will be highlighted in the upcoming Happy Hour with the Historian “With a Rebel Yell: The Life and Art of Stanley Papio” with Dr. Cori Convertito on June 15 to be held at Comedy Key West. (Photo Credit: Key West Art & Historical Society)

June 6, 2023 – (KEY WEST, FL).  Raise a toast to Florida Keys art and history with Key West Art & Historical Society Curator and Historian Cori Convertito, Ph.D., on Thursday, June 15, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. during her popular “Happy Hour with the Historian” program at Comedy Key West, 218 Whitehead Street.  Enjoy a complimentary draft beer, glass of house wine or a soft drink while Convertito presents on the evening’s topic, “With a Rebel Yell: The Life & Art of Stanley Papio” which will explore the rebellious welder-turned-metal-artist who transformed other people’s junk into spectacular works of art.

Stanley Papio was 34 years old when he settled in Key Largo in 1949.  He had worked a series of odd jobs across Canada and the United States; his favorite of these was welding.  He started his own welding business along U.S. 1 at Mile Marker 101 and encouraged people to leave old cars, washing machines, trailers, motors, and pieces of scrap metal in his yard.

Papio once remarked that “a bunch of junk is a welder’s glory.  Buying new stuff is not a welder’s way”.  He breathed life into this old junk.  Trash piles assumed new identities.  Car fenders became alligators.  Dishwashers became people.  Eventually, he constructed his own folk art environment using bed springs to create a fence around his property.  He re-named his welding shop “Stanley’s Art Museum,” and charged 25¢ admission, thus creating a lawn of folk art for travelers on the nearby highway to view with astonishment and amazement.

“Papio was a quirky Keys character who settled in Key Largo before most of the large hotels and businesses were established,” says Convertito.  “As the population swelled and encroached on his property, complaints were logged with the local authorities by the newly arrived residents that his welding business was an eyesore.  Annoyed with the neighbors, Papio grabbed the discarded appliances and cars on his property and created caustic and satirical pieces of artwork representing his neighbors as a way of fighting back.”

The imagination and resourcefulness of Papio is what inspired the Key West Art & Historical Society’s annual Stanley Papio Kinetic Sculpture and Art Bike Parade.  Each spring, the Society encourages the community to take objects that would otherwise be discarded and create art with parts that move for a parade that travels the length of Duval Street.

Happy Hour with the Historian is limited to 70 attendees; reserve your spot now at kwahs.org/rebelpapio – $12 for KWAHS members, $15 for non-members.  This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, with additional support provided by The Helmerich Trust and Comedy Key West.  For more information, contact Cori Convertito, Ph.D. at 305-295-6616 x507 or [email protected].  Your Museums.  Your Community.  It takes an Island.

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