Windy City Artists Invade Southernmost Creative Community

TSKW Presents next exhibition, Chicago Artists Works on Paper, from January 14 to February 4

Thanks to The Studios of Key West’s innovative Cultural Manager Residency Program, the island will soon have the opportunity to view and acquire works by over a dozen prominent Chicago artists. The Historic Armory will host Chicago Artists Works on Paper, an exhibition of almost 30 drawings and mixed-media works, January 14 to February 4, made possible by a new partnership between the Second City and the Southernmost Town. The show also includes a silent auction of 14 original works on paper, donated by each of the participating artists, set for the evening of January 21.

E. W. Ross, former Dean at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and director of its Ox-Bow summer campus in Michigan, was invited to spend January 2009 in The Studios of Key West’s Mango Tree House. While here as resident cultural manager, Ross escaped the Windy City’s winter, explored our tropical environs, and began thinking about new collaborations and exchanges. After much planning and effort, he returns this season as curator of Chicago Artists Works on Paper and repeat Cultural Manager in Residence at The Studios.

“Last year we began inviting some of America’s cultural leaders and arts administrators to spend time in residence on our island. And soon we had dozens of leading creative figures planning their retreats,” said Eric Holowacz, executive director of The Studios. “It has become both a strategic and hospitable way to explore new programming, and generate important connections to the mainland and the world.”

Chicago is home to 30,000 studios artists, roughly the entire population of Key West, and has long been established as a global center of arts and culture. Following his residency last year, Ross began inviting a diverse group of visual communicators to consider lending work to a special exhibition in Key West. He describes the results like this:

“The fourteen artists in the show are as diverse as the work itself. It is an intergenerational group. Amy Stibich, 24 years old, is showing paper collages and drawings that relate a bit to David Hockney’s use of color and play. She is just at the beginning of a promising career. On the other end, Karl Wirsum, one of the highly influential ‘Hairy Who’ group of the late 1960’s, is an important Chicago artist with work in the collections of many major museums. His color lithographs are as vibrant and well designed as any anywhere.”

Chicago Artists Works on Paper includes 28 pictures, ranging from straight up water-based media to a variety of printmaking, including wood block, lithography and photo etching. Viewers will discover an exquisite landscape study by Susan Kraut, playful puns in Oli Watt’s prints, and the exquisite mysteriousness of Jeanine Coupe-Ryding’s photo etching.

Also contributing to the exhibition are Jose Andreu, Isak Applin, Linda Cohn, and Willie Kohler. George Liebert, Bobbi Meier, Olivia Petrides, Tony Phillips, and curator E. W. Ross round out the extraordianry Chicago line-up.

Thanks to a generous gesture form all of the participating artists, local art collectors will also have the opportunity to acquire 14 of the pictures included in the exhibition. Ranging in value from $200 to $1500, these works will be available by silent auction, opening on January 14 and closing with final bids at 8:00pm during the January 21 reception. Those interested are encouraged to bid just like the people of Chicago vote: early and often. Proceeds will support the current season of The Studios of Key West.

“When Ross told me that the artists had offered to help our organization by donating a work, I was deeply touched,” said Holowacz. “I knew that a true partnership had begun, and that this exhibition would be the start of many other cultural connections and collaborations between the Windy City and our tropical retreat.”

The Studios of Key West is a now in its third season, and offers workshops, lectures, concerts, exhibitions, and cultural opportunities for everybody. To learn more about Chicago Artists Works on paper, or to find out about other upcoming events, contact The Studios at 296-0458 or visit

This project is generously sponsored by the Southernmost Hotel Collection.

The Studios of Key West