Carnival Victory 6: Whimsical sculptures a popular photo stop in Key West

ABOARD THE CARNIVAL VICTORY – The last time I was in Key West, a gigantic statue of a man and woman twirling to some unseen music was in front of the city’s Customs House Art and History Museum. 

It’s no longer there.

Mariachi players without music are outside the Custom House.

“They come and they go,” said the museum guide. “We have new ones instead.”

Such is life.

Now I had to wait my turn to take photos of the new statues when visitors weren’t snapping selfies with the outdoor sculptures. Spread around Key West, the statues are a work of art to some, a travesty to others.

But they are undeniably among the most photographed sights in this colorful Florida community. One of the first stops for passengers when our Carnival Victory docked in Key West was probably the statue of a man and woman kissing with the ship in the background.

‘Pondering the Benefits of Exercise’ seems to speak for itself.

How can anything that gives so much happiness to people be considered so negatively?

Although critics claim his work is rips offs of other art and have labeled it as “kitsch,” it does seem quite at home in Key West with its legendary “live-and-let live” attitude.

The artist himself – Seward Johnson – is part of the Johnson & Johnson family. Johnson lives in Key West and graciously shares his talents with the community.

I’m no art critic but I like the sculptures.

                                           Sculpture folks look familiar

To me, they are bright and colorful reminders that the world is populated with a bunch of diverse people. I swear that I know some of the folks that John Seward Johnson Jr. (his official name) has captured in the sculptures he has been crafting for more than four decades.

His “Lunch Break” sculpture reflects a bygone era that today’s children probably have never seen. My Dad used to carry a lunch box and thermos like this.

The “Pondering the Benefits of Exercise” shows a guy leisurely reclining after enjoying a meal and drinks. Doesn’t look like he is in any hurry to exercise. Probably how many of us feel after all the tasty food on this cruise.

The lady toting a grocery bag and wearing a dress coat and high heels reminds me of my Grandma Georgie. She wore nylons and heels all the time, even to work in her yard.

A sculpture of two ladies has a live cat napping beneath it.

Then there are the two ladies seated on a bench by the lighthouse. It looks like they are taking a break from errands to solve the world’s problems or to share town gossip. Snuggled underneath the lady sculpture, cuddled close to one of the women’s bright blue shoes is a real live cat.

I like that cat’s attitude – who cares if it is art or not. It’s a fun fitting place to snooze in the sun. 

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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