Florida Keys

Your dream job? 1 month on a deserted island as artist in residence

This is the isolated Loggerhead Key 70 miles west of Key West where the artist(s) will stay.
This is the isolated Loggerhead Key 70 miles west of Key West where the artist(s) will stay. NOAA

Are you artistic and can you tolerate a month on an island in the middle of nowhere? If so, there's an opportunity awaiting.

The National Parks Arts Foundation is partnering with Dry Tortugas National Park 70 miles west of Key West to place an artist in residence on Loggerhead Key. This is a unique opportunity for a wide range of visual artists, filmmakers, performers and dancers who want to get serious work done without disruptions.

At the same time, where else in the world are you going to experience paradise, swim in turquoise water, witness rare and beautiful sea turtles, weather tropical storms, appreciate an ancient lighthouse and experience the romance of pirate history?

The one-month residency, which runs through September, offers a venue to create while presenting a workshop or public lecture about the artwork or process. At the end, the artist will donate his or her work to the National Parks Collection.

Artist couples can apply. In fact, even if you a part of a couple but the only artist, the residency must include two people due to the isolated nature of the Tortugas. They have to be willing to tolerate each other for the duration.

There is no application fee but the artist(s) bears the full cost of travel to and from Loggerhead Key and must make arrangements and preparations to feed themselves while there. To repeat: This is a very isolated location accessible by boat or seaplane only.

The people chosen must be self-sufficient because the location is off the grid. There is no Internet, no phone, no television. It is recommended but not required that the chosen candidate visit before committing to the residency and take a satellite phone during their stay. Artists must have all proper insurance.

The first Europeans to discover the Dry Tortugas were the Spanish in 1513, led by explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. The keys were a pirate hideout and way station for centuries during the golden age of Caribbean piracy. The Carnegie Institute ran an historic Marine Biology Laboratory at Loggerhead Key from the turn of the 20th century to 1939.

Poised to protect this valuable harbor was one of the largest forts ever built. Nearly thirty years in the making (1846-1875), Fort Jefferson was never finished nor fully armed. Yet it was a vital link in a chain of coastal forts that stretched from Maine to California. Though never attacked, the fort fulfilled its intended role. It helped to protect the peace and prosperity of a young nation.

During the Civil War, Union warships used the harbor in their campaign to blockade southern shipping. The fort was also used as a prison, mainly for Union deserters. Its most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin.

Abandoned by the Army in 1874, the fort was later used as a coaling station for warships. In 1898, the USS Maine sailed into history, departing the Tortugas on its fateful mission to Havana, Cuba. The fort was used briefly during both world wars.

To apply for the residency, go to www.nationalparksartsfoundation.org/. The deadline is June 20. The chosen artist will be announced July 1.

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