Festivities, Fausto’s, and Farewell to a Friend

Steve Smith | November 2013

During the Thanksgiving holiday period in Key West, we’re enjoying sunny, breezy temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s.I will be joining my friends and our visitors riding bicycles around Old Town enjoying the island’s Thanksgiving festivities and other events.

This quintet is the talent behind the black comedy "Cock," presented by the Key West Fringe Theater. (Photo courtesy of Key West Fringe)

For example, opening next week at The Studios of Key West is the New York Critics Choice Award-winning play “Cock.”

Described as a “brilliant and blackly hilarious look at love, betrayal, and our desire to control that which we love,” this tour de force is staged by the Key West Fringe Theater and stars a top-notch group of local actors.

The setting at the popular Studios is an intimate space to experience theater, and I encourage you to see the production there during its run.

Across town at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (we call it Fort Elizabeth Taylor), from Dec. 6-8 you’ll find yourself in a “British stronghold” defending the shores against an invasion of pirates.

Key West City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley welcomes shoppers at Fausto's Food Palace. (Photo courtesy of Fausto's)

Step back in time to the buccaneers’ heyday with a living history demonstration, live battles, pirate encampments and more. If you happen to have your own pirate outfit, don it and join the festivities! Admission is free, but the Friends of Fort Taylor will happily accept donations of a few pieces of eight or some gold doubloons.

Key West has always been a haven for writers and artists, actors, and songsters.If you have visited here before, I’m sure you’ve met locals and now have your favorite bartender, waiter, taxi driver or cashier at our local grocery store and social center, Fausto’s Food Palace.

An individualistic and beloved emporium, for over 85 years Fausto’s has offered a unique variety of gourmet and organic foods, meats and cheeses. 

The late Ferron Bell, pictured here in characteristic headgear, was a talented member of Key West's lively arts community.

You’ll even find Key West City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, whose family owns the store, behind the meat counter! Be sure to greet him and check out the store’s specials — and while there, you’re likely to meet some of the colorful characters that make up the fabric of the island. 

On Saturdays at Fausto’s, you might spot tables with homemade baked goods or raffle tickets benefiting one of our schools or local arts undertakings.

Nineteen years ago, I was sitting at a table in front of the store selling tickets to an event when a guy wearing a top hat made of woven palm fronds parked his bicycle and greeted me. I took one look at this person with acrylic paint splattered on his shirt and shorts and wondered what had just stepped into my world.

That began my friendship with Key West artist Ferron Bell, who offered one of his small paintings to be raffled at the event I was promoting. Generous to a fault, Ferron donated his art to almost every nonprofit organization here as well as in Fire Island.

Ferron's unique images include the whimsical "Tea Dance at Tea Table Relief."

His special art made its way into many island hearts and homes. My home is filled with his whimsical interpretations, including “Wisk Clouds” and “Tea Dance at Tea Table Relief,” complete with pink ribbons streaming from the mangrove branches.

On November 25, after a brief illness, Ferron transitioned to another place where I’m certain he’s sharing his special talent of mixing colors and wit with flora and fauna. The Fire Island Pines Historical Preservation Society reported, “His personality was as eclectic as his art. He put his unique stamp on anything from canvas to driftwood.” Rest comfortably, my friend, until we meet again. 

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1 Comment »

  1. Kirk Said,

    November 29, 2013 @ 12:04 PM

    Thank you for sharing the info on Ferron Bell’s passing. I’ve only yet visited Key West twice and had met Ferron multiple times, each visit. He was a charming representative for your community. Each time I saw his art I pledged myself to return and buy something — at a more convenient time. I never did. I cheated Ferron and myself for that. Wish I had followed through.

    Sorry for the loss of your friend, Steve.

    — Cleveland, OH

    P.S., Enjoy your blog. You are a worthy ambassador.

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