Friday, April 30, 2010

Key West

A Critique, Continued to Part III

We took a marathon walk on our Second day too. We walked to the Hemingway House, then to the Southernmost Point in the USA, and back across Key West to the Audubon House. The weather was overcast - thank goodness - because it was hot with the humidity over 80%!  Walking all over the key was tiring, but I’d much rather move under my own power than sit in the expensive tour guided electric trams that roam the key.

The Hemingway House was busy, the tour guide knowledgeable, and cats were everywhere. It is obvious the six-toed creatures are well cared for with weekly vet visits, toys, and no odor or mess about the house or grounds. The cats are very docile; one black kitty asleep on his master’s bed, another asleep in front of a photograph of Hemmingway with his fishing buddy – the guy “The Old Man and the Sea” is based on. To this cat lover the cats were actually the best part of the house, and that isn’t to belittle the house in any way. The tour was well worth it. I had always wondered why a robust male, a brilliant and prolific writer like Hemingway would commit suicide. The tour guide told us that Hemingway was given electric shock therapy as treatment for manic/depression. The therapy accidentally damaged part of his brain, and he was no longer able to write. As a visual artist, I thought to myself, “How would I feel if I were no longer able to draw and paint my waterscapes? What would it feel like not to be able to put together my mixed media and digital photographic montages?

On that sobering note, we left the Hemingway compound and walked past the lighthouse and through an interesting neighborhood whose residents were mixed - people of color and white - to the southernmost point in the United States. That neighborhood had the most authentic feel to it with Catholic shrines in front of some of the shotgun bungalows, and mom and pop stores on street corners. We found a line of folks waiting to have their pictures taken at the Southernmost Point Marker. For the most part people were orderly, waiting their turn based on the order of their arrival at the marker. The marker reminds you that Cuba is 90 miles to the south.

Joe and I made another long trek across the Key to the Audubon House and gardens, perhaps the best part of the day for me because of the artwork, the original Audubon etchings, and wonderful antique furniture in a museum-like environment. It was obvious that no expense has been spared to protect the art and furniture. The small but carefully labeled tropical garden was the most informative I’ve encountered in South Florida, and we spent a full hour looking at the orchids, plants and trees there.

After all the walking Joe insisted we needed a libation so we took a quick walk over to Duval Street and the Tree Bar at Rick's for a Rum and Coke, and a delightful conversation with the very informative bartender.


Betsy Grant said...

Hi John,
I'm enjoying your lovely photos and vicariously - your trip through Key West. I didn't know that about Hemingway, but it certainly was a reminder to appreciate the musical gifts I have, and to continue to devote time and energy to sharing my music with those that might benefit. Thanks for sharing.

jeannette said...

Coming from Besty Grant's blog - I love the orchids, and thank you for sharing your trek!
About Hemingway -I may see it a little different, since I'm not only an artist, but also a psychologist (semi-retired). My sense is that his diagnosis of manic depression back then, we would now call bipolar, and with this disorder there is a high disposition for suicide attempts.

Bytheway, I also saw your pastel blog, and like your work very much:)

Dr. John Bittinger Klomp said...

So, you're saying, he probably didn't lose his ability to write, was just horribly depressed, at the bottom of the bipolar swing, and took his life.