The Key West Art & Historical Society, one of the region’s oldest cultural organizations that preserves the region’s cultural heritage through its three historic properties, exhibitions and educational offerings, announces the addition of Todd Feit, Sam Kaufman, Adam Russell and Michael Shields to their current board of directors.

“They bring great energy to the board and new ways of looking at the organization,” says Executive Director Michael Gieda.

Photo: Todd Feit, Michael Shields, Sam Kaufman and Adam Russell

(L to R) Todd Feit, Michael Shields, Sam Kaufman and Adam Russell

The new members have extensive backgrounds in arts advocacy and business. Each has expertise that will help cultivate what’s next for the Society’s future.

“They were chosen for their talents and dedicated focus and will contribute to our continued growth and programs,” says Gieda.

Adam Russell, sculptor and proprietor of Key West Pottery with his wife Kelly Lever, has served on the board of Sculpture Key West and the City of Key West Art in Public Places since moving to the island three years ago. His knowledge of sculpture and how it relates to the community will be of great support to KWAHS’ Stanley Papio Kinetic Parade in 2016. Russell calls this new event “a 21st century extrapolation on sculpture that combines the mechanized movements of 20th-century industry, the elegant whimsy of a bicycle, blowing wind, and the architectural music of a sculptor’s intellect.”

“I would say that our community has a colorful, longstanding love affair with sculpture as evidenced by a simple walk around town. The work I’ve done with various organizations has shown me that we have not only a receptive audience for traditional sculptural works but also a progressive and experimental taste.”

“And we are no stranger to parades,” he adds.

Todd Feit and his wife Tonya are fairly new transplants to the Florida Keys. They own and operate “Key Accents,” a home and garden store on Caroline Street. Feit appreciates the non-linear nature of the organization and the breadth of opportunities KWAHS brings to the community and visitors to learn about the culture and history of Key West.

“There are multiple directions going at any given time – the exhibits, the concert series, the Distinguished Speaker Series, the exposure to the three different historic properties,” he says. “It keeps it interesting while also fun and fresh.”

Feit made his mark on the island by bringing out the best it has to offer through his popular social media Facebook page “Conchtastic Key West.” There, he integrates his online business marketing savvy with his photographic artistry, providing quality content garnering him more than 30,000 followers. Feit is a former KWAHS volunteer and used his expertise and Conchtastic to help KWAHS win the 2014 Knight Foundation People’s Choice Award. Winning meant the new Education Department would receive $20,000 for educational missives that include this summer’s ArtCamp! program at the Fort East Martello.

Local attorney, father and community advocate Sam Kaufman looks forward to lending his experience as an attorney and with non-profits to contribute to the organization’s continued growth. The family and civic-minded board member– who is currently running for District 2 City Commissioner– is particularly excited about promoting KWAHS to reach more local families.

“The future growth of KWAHS is lead through efforts to promote the landmarks (Custom House Museum, Fort East Martello, and The Lighthouse Museum and Keeper’s Quarters), programs and exhibits here in the local community,” he says. “It is exciting to see KWAHS engaging the community with a variety of programs and exhibiting collections of great importance to the Florida Keys.”

As the stewards and caretakers of the islands’ cultural heritage, it is the Society’s mission to engage and unify the diverse community of the Florida Keys through our various educational programs,” says Gieda.

Michael Shields, the Founder of the Key West Film Society and former Executive Director of the Tropic Cinema and a long-time community activist, arts entrepreneur, advocate and producer will bring lend his media, film curating and programming experience to the board through their new film series and Midsummer’s Night Dream event to be held at Fort East Martello in June.

“In addition, I hope to promote more art in public programs in cooperation with the city and leading regional arts organizations,” says Shields, who also serves as Chair of the Key West Art in Public Places Board and Monroe County Library Advisory Board, Advisor for the Florida Keys Council of the Arts and Program Coordinator for Leadership Monroe County.

“The Key West Art & Historical Society is the vital, creative connection to who we are and who we are also becoming, as it chronicles the past and informs the present,” says Shields. “I’m glad to be part of this mission and KWAHS’s bright future.”

Those interested in supporting the preservation of three award-winning museums, the care and conservation of one of the oldest museum collections in the Florida Keys, and year-round exhibitions and educational programming through volunteering or membership should contact Gerri Sidoti, Membership and Programs Director, at 305-295-6616 ext 106.

Your museums. Your community. It takes an island.