Giving Thanks for the MARC House – Exhibition and Cabaret at TSKW

One MARC house client dreams of being a Motown star, one a fighter pilot, and another dreams of going on a date with Cindy Lauper.  Other clients of the organization dream of being firefighters, policemen and cowboys. MARC house clients have dream lives as unique and distinctive as their own personalities.

“ReMARCable People – A Photo Essay on the MARC House,” is a series of 25 exquisite portraits of MARC House clients taken by photographer Michael Marrero.  The exhibition will be on view from November 5 – 30 at The Studios of Key West. The public is invited to the opening reception on Friday, November 5 from 5:30-7:30 pm.

“A few years back, I approached Gordon Ross with the idea of doing a photographic project about the MARC House, says Marrero. “I wanted to show people how the clients viewed themselves, and I wanted to give the clients an opportunity to live out their dreams and ambitions.”

Over the course of several months, Marrero spent many hours each week with the MARC House clients, learning about their lives, and joining them on group outings that ranged from dolphin encounters to Tuesday evening bocce games.

Eventually the concept to photograph the clients living their dreams took shape.  The goal was to allow them, even if it was only for a brief moment, to inhabit their fantasy lives.

Marrero created special questionnaire which he gave to each client with questions like, “What did you want to be when you grew up?”, “If you could do one thing what would it be?”, and “what is your favorite profession?”.   He then worked with each client to design a photo shoot that brought to life the amazing dreams the clients had for themselves.

It took the help of over fifty community members and various organizations to source project funding and supplies and to secure shoot locations on the island.  Support poured forth from the community when Marrero reached out to those people who could help the project come to life.

“Whenever possible, the locations had to be authentic and real,” continues Marrero. “As much as I could, I wanted to create a scene for my subjects to inhabit.”

Marrero traveled with one of his clients to Key West High School during a football practice for a photo shoot.  Having always dreamed of being a football coach, the client was photographed wearing the official high school coaching jersey and a hat while a live practice went on in the background.

Many other organizations were equally helpful.  The Key West Fire Department provided full hazard gear and access to a fire truck for a shoot.  The Lower Keys Medical Center allowed Marrero take several portraits in their new X-ray CAT SCAN facility, and the Florida Keys Community College got on board and allowed Marrero to use their science lab, nursing lab and a live welding department class for shoots.

The Key West Police Department lent a squad car and uniform to be used for the project, and many other organizations and businesses provided time, shoot sites, hair and makeup services, and even tuxedos to make the clients’ dreams come to life.

“Mike Marrero has captured what dreams and hopes are made of,” says Diana Flenard, Executive Director of MARC House,” This is a fabulous collection of work that represents the essence of MARC.”

The opening reception on November 5 from 5:30-7:30 pm will be the first time the MARC subjects get see their dream portraits unveiled.  The public is also invited to the reception that evening to celebrate this extraordinary body of work.

To complement the MARC House exhibition, on Saturday, November 13 at 8 pm, TSKW will present “Gordon Ross and Friends: Show Tunes, Love Songs and Decadence” a cabaret by local performer Gordon Ross, who also is the director of development and public relations at MARC House.  Musical director for the evening is Bobby Nesbitt and the musicians will include Skipper Kripitz and Christine Naughton.  A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the MARC house.

Tickets for the show are $30 advance/$35 day of show and tables for 4 or 5 are $150 and can be resesrved as well.  Tickets are available at or at The Studios, 600 White Street, 296-0458.

Visit to see more of Michael’s work.

The MARC House Photography Project was generously sponsored by First State Bank and by the MARC House Plant Store.

The Studios of Key West