My Jersey Mermaid, 2017
Oil on Canvas
24in by 18in

Breakfast at Robbie's, 2017
Oil on Canvas
40in by 30in

 

Sunset at Lorelei's I, 2016
Oil on Canvas
36in by 48in

Sunset at Lorelei's.jpg

Sunset at Lorelei's II, 2016
Oil on Canvas
48in by 36in

Sunset at Lorelei's.2.jpg
 

Condo at the Keys, 2016
Oil on Canvas
22in by 20in

Although I live in West Virginia, my heart is always in Florida.  In particular, Gainesville and the Florida Keys.  My mother is a Conch, as she was born in Key West.  Her family arrived in 1840’s and the last to leave left in the late 1990’s.

However, we have had a share time condo on Lower Matecumbe Bay since the 1970’s.  Each November, friends and family spend Thanksgiving together under the palm trees.  I always cry and feel great sadness when the last day of our yearly visit arrives.  I hate leaving my Eden.  Beyond the condo’s small boat dock and channel, there is a gathering of old coral rocks.  This is where my ashes will be lain to wash away and, finally, I will never have to leave again. 

My grandmother was also a Conch and I always feel her spirit closest to me when we visit the condo.  The colors and light in the Keys are incredibly intense and there are so, so many combinations of hues.  One would never think it possible that the water or a sunset could be harmoniously composed of so many colors.  To be surrounded by them is truly a spiritual experience.  Thus, this series is in honor of the joy and happiness they have brought and continue to bring in my life.

History of the Conchs

For years, those born and raised in Key West have been referred to as "Conchs." Where the name originates historically is under speculation, however there are several suggestions as to where the name comes from. Some say that many people from the Bahamas came to Key West, who already had earned the nickname "conchs" because they ate so much conch. Some say that the people of Key West ate so much conch that they just received the nickname as well. Others say it was the ubiquitous use of the conch shell by the people of the Bahamas and Florida during the 18th century that led to the nickname "conchs."

No matter where the name comes from, Key West has become pseudonymous with "conchs" and the "Conch Republic." Visitors who come for Key West vacations often hear this term, especially if they are talking to a local. However there is more tradition linked to this the use of the word "conch" than realized. For example, after a certain amount of time, newly transplanted people to Key West are often referred to as "fresh water conchs." This term is normally applied to them after seven years. The term "fresh water conchs" is used to distinguish them from "salt-water conchs," which are people who were born and raised in Key West.

"The History Behind the Conch Republic." Best On Key West. N.p., 13 June 2014. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.

My momma's house on Grinnell Street, Key West.