Welcome to the
Artist's Room of the Cultural Museum. Artists and works of artists begins
with a New York artist who found his way to middle Key Largo.
Artist Harry Sonntag
By Jerry Wilkinson
These are the lost (now found) works of
Harry Sonntag, now known as "The Hermit Artist of Key Largo." In
the early 1950s, Sonntag painted watercolors for his Key Largo Art Gallery
which he ran from broke down wooden building in Rock
As best determined he departed with his unsold paintings for the
Caribbean around 1954. His painting were first found under a bed
in the Virgin Islands, then in a storage bin in Kissimmee, Florida.
Chuck Faulkner now has about 160 of his paintings of which these are a
few. Not many have titles, but if given they will be noted.
As shown above, Harry Sonntag was pictured
standing in front of
the door of his gallery in the Miami Daily News newspaper
dated Sunday, July 6, 1952. Now for his work.
Rock Harbor was known for its commerical
and private fishing business. The businesses were on the ocean side. Harry's
titled "Rock Harbor" painting is below.
Below is another painting, although
not titled by Harry, is probably the Mandalay Marina in the community of
Rock Harbor. A clue is the derrick depicted near the bait shack. Actually,
a number of other painting can be identified by the derrick. This style
derrick is known as a stiff-legged derrick.
Continuing with the theme of
Rock Harbor, the following is specfically titled "Snack Shack, Rock
Harbor (51)." Here Harry utilizes considerably more color.
Look below at another untitled watercolor
which is no doubt a general perspective of the waterfront of Rock Harbor
in the 1950s. The building in the center-right is probably the above snack
The following is Harry's rendition
of his rustic studio. Harry lived "Back in the woods" according to the
oldtimers who knew him. Small structures built of driftwood was not unusual.
The next community south of Rock
Harbor was Tavernier. To the south of Tavernier is Tavernier Creek.
The following watercolor is titled "Tavernier" and both sides of the creek
is visible. Those are nets, probably mackerel nets, in the foreground.
Rusty's was a bait, tackle and food
business on Tavernier Creek near the highway bridge. The curve is not as
pronounced as shown; however, it could be in the canal that enters the
creek near the highway. The electric poles in the background are the concern.
Harry sold his art along the side of the
highway in Rock Harbor. However, as most artists do, he particated in art
shows. This watercolor is titled "1st outdoor exhibit Key West (52)." The
stone monument is well known in Key West.