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MARIO SANCHEZ (1908-2005)


MARIO SANCHEZ (1908-2005)
titled and signed "MAIN DRAG 1940s" / KEY WEST / Mario Sanchez (lower right)
carved and painted wood
14 5⁄8 x 26 3⁄8 in.
Painted circa 1940.
El Kiosko Gallery, Key West, Florida, 1968
Phil and Ruth Salesy, Key West, Florida
Thence by descent in the family

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Cara Zimmerman
Cara Zimmerman Head of Americana and Outsider Art

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Lot Essay

Born in Key West, Florida, Mario Sanchez (1908-2005) was the son of a cigar maker and lived in the community dedicated to the trade known as Gatoville. Beginning in the 1930s, Sanchez began capturing his familiar surroundings in bas-relief carvings. His vibrant work is imbued with a sense of humor and nostalgia as he records the real characters and places that he knew so well. In a handwritten letter, Mario Sanchez discusses this work:

The houses in the background of this scene have given way to new buildings. In one of these buildings I located Farrington Galleries. On the sidewalk again you can see Cuco with his guitar and an overcoat on. It did not matter to him if it was very hot for he still would wear it. When people asked him where he got the overcoat he would reply that he brought it from France when he was in the first world's war. That was another brainstorm of his, because he had never been out of Key West, not even to Boco Chica. The colored lady on the sidewalk also adorned the streets of old Key West. She also had a leaky attic. By leaky attic I mean to say that she was somewhat off her bean like Cuco. She used to change dresses a lot of times daily. The dresses she wore were very elaborate and colorful. The man on the bicycle was the best Cuban kite maker of Key West. Miss White used to sell his kites in the Little Gallery. Perhaps you saw the kites there when you bought the carvings from her. The sign "Lucky House" was where they sold "Bolita Tickets." Up North they call it the numbers racket.

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