DUVAL STREET WINDOW ART CELEBRATES ESSENCE OF KEY WEST

Lucy Hawk’s intricate art of paper-cutting is on display through Dec. 10, when the installation will be replaced with works by Anna Maria Giordano. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

Next time you’re downtown, check out the old Kress building at Duval and Fleming. Not because it now houses a CVS, and not because you need sunscreen and an eight-pack of High Noons.

But because the storefront windows feature a giant, original art installation by Lucy Hawk, whose hand-cut paper art is as intricate as it is enchanting. The display fills four windows and wraps around the corner onto Fleming Street. The two largest windows, or glass “canvases,” are each 9 feet long and 6 feet tall. (Smaller pieces of her art are available at Sacred Space Gallery, which Hawk co-owns at 529 Southard St.)

Each window creation features scenes of Key West, painstakingly cut from white paper, then mounted on bright coral and aqua backgrounds to highlight the iconic buildings, boats, waterfront, wildlife and whimsy that is Key West. 

She calls the overall installation “Essence of Us.” One of the large works depicts a Key West street scene. Entitled, “Our City: An Ode to Key West,” it includes the Green Parrot Bar, Bobby’s Monkey Bar, Mallory Square, Hemingway House, Sunset Pier and more. 

The other large display, “Greetings from the Conch Republic” is an homage to the Keys’ water and wildlife.

“This piece highlights and celebrates the wild parts of our island home,” Hawk said. “I spent over 45 hours designing, drawing and cutting this piece, in reverse, using a scalpel-like knife.

It includes accurate representations of barracuda, Florida spiny lobster, spotted eagle rays, frigate birds, parrot fish, sergeant major fish, mangrove snapper, sponges, corals and a tarpon jumping out of the water. I wanted to pay tribute to the shrimping industry and added a personal touch by naming the boat ‘Freya’ – the Norse goddess of love and war – but also the name of my dog. You will see the Bahia Honda bridge and a seaplane as well in this piece and the Conch Republic Flag atop the shrimp boat.”

Overall, the installation includes five separate, large-format works for five separate windows.

Artist Lucy Hawk prepares to install her large-scale, paper-cutting art display in the windows at CVS on Duval Street. CONTRIBUTED
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Artist Lucy Hawk prepares to install her large-scale, paper-cutting art display in the windows at CVS on Duval Street. CONTRIBUTED
The end result: Lucy Hawk celebrates the completion of her art installation in the storefront windows of CVS on Duval Street. CONTRIBUTED
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The end result: Lucy Hawk celebrates the completion of her art installation in the storefront windows of CVS on Duval Street. CONTRIBUTED

“I hand drew and hand-cut the installations that represent what it is to be a member of the Key West community and what it is like to live on our island. I aimed to create the essence of life here; capturing the things we value as a collective: the natural environment, the quaint architecture and rich history as well as our social acceptance and love of everyone.”

One truly has to look twice to realize everything is carved from paper and not drawn or painted on the background. 

Around the corner on Fleming Street, Hawk pays tribute to Key West’s One Human Family motto with a paper-cutting of the words. Finally, right next to the store’s entrance, a perfectly carved rooster stands below the ironic words, “Don’t feed our squirrels.” 

“Lucy’s art amazes me in its detail,” said Liz Young, executive director of the Florida Keys Arts Council, which launched the Arts Builds Community project with CVS back in 2015, using the store’s large windows to showcase the work of Florida Keys artists on a rotating basis. “It’s almost as if she’s creating sculptures from paper, the way she cuts away all but the images she wants to showcase.”

Hawk’s installation is enchanting — and a bit nostalgic for anyone who remembers what those windows represented from the late ’70s until 2012.

Before it housed yet another CVS, the building was home to Fast Buck Freddie’s, a locally owned department store unlike any other that sadly became a victim of online shopping and closed in 2012. But for nearly 40 years, the windows of Fast Buck Freddie’s were works of art, reflecting current events, holidays, Fantasy Fest themes and other irreverent and impressive designs created by Ann Lorraine. 

The art council’s partnership with CVS has revived the tradition and has featured paintings, watercolors, sculptures and mixed media installations by artists from all over the Florida Keys. 

Hawk’s “Essence of Us” will be on display until Dec. 10, when it will be replaced by work by Anna Maria Giordano. 

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