Sanchez Corner Memorialized

Posted On:

The Green Parrot building, built in 1890, sits diagonally across the street from the Monroe County Courthouse, erected the same year.
In it’s earliest years, it was grocery, owned by the Antonio Sanchez, the paternal grandfather of renowned folk artist Mario Sanchez, a self- taught master of the woodcut. Antonio was also a musician and frequently used the back room of his grocery store for Cuban jam sessions or descargas, encouraging local musicians to stay and play late into the evening. In Sanchez Corner, a famous Sanchez woodcut that depicts the grocery as it was at the turn of the century, the grocery of Mario’s childhood is easily recognizable as the Parrot of today.

The Sanchez print that hangs in The Green Parrot, depicting the corner as it was in Mario’s childhood memories
A few months back  I was contacted on Facebook by Debbie DeStephano who is the great granddaughter of Antonio Sanchez.
We spoke on the phone and she said she planned a Key West trip with several of her Sanchez relatives in July.
Hearing that we decided that we needed some sort of remembrance, some sort of homage to both Antonio Sanchez, the industrious immigrant turned grocer who built the building that is now home to the Green Parrot, and his grandson world famous folk artist Mario Sanchez, who went on to immortalize the building in one of his woodcuts, titled Sanchez Corner, which depicts our corner as it looked when Mario was a child in the early 1900’s.

Artist David Wegman on right and Dink Bruce on left deliver one of The panels for Sanchez Corner, as Mario looks on

We commissioned our artist-in-residence David Wegman to do the installation, on that would include Antonio, Mario as a boy, and Mario as an artist.
David outdid himself. The three panels, installed on two doors and a window facing our back porch provide us with a window into the world of Antonio and Mario, a world of long ago.
Mario would always place clouds drifting above all his subjects in in those clouds would be reflected footnotes to what the images depicted. The clouds above Mario’s woodcut Sanchez corner showed a pool table, some dominoes and some of the staples that were offered in Antonio’s turn-of-the-century grocery store.

The two door panels, showing the inside of Antonio’s grocery store, a late night descarga, or jam session on the left panel, and on the right panel, Antonio Sanchez, passing canned goods to his grandson Mario, who, though happy in his work, dreams of someday being an artist.

We decided to place clouds in Wegman’s art also. The one above young Mario’s head, as he stands on a ladder stocking shelves shows Mario dreaming of someday becoming an artist in some exotic locale, it is the dream of a little boy that would be be realized beyond any one’s dreams. In another panel stands the mature Mario, standing proudly, brush in hand, a man firmly in control of his medium. And in his cloud, what does he dream of? He dreams of being a little boy, back in Sanchez Corner, stocking the shelves contentedly with Antonio.

Wegman’s panel depicting Maria as a man, working under the trees at his Key West home, but dreaming of being a child at Sanchez Corner

Members of the Sanchez Family visiting from Tampa

When the Sanchez family arrived this month and saw these panels, Debbie began to weep with joy and pride.  It was a small gesture on our part, but one that meant so much to them.

Joe and Deb DiStephano