KEY WEST, Florida Keys — An art photography exhibit inspired by, and once displayed on, a sunken ship nearly 100 feet below the surface is the centerpiece of “The Art of Diving” events to be held Jan. 17-18 in Key West.
Other attractions range from a documentary screening and presentations to “Wreck Trek” dive specials from participating Florida Keys dive shops. Throughout the event, attendees can meet photographers, filmmakers, writers and others inspired by the Florida Keys’ underwater world.
“The Sinking World,” by Austrian art photographer Andreas Franke, is to open at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at The Studios of Key West, 600 White St. The exhibit consists of a dozen digitally composited images of the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a former Air Force missile tracking ship that was scuttled in May 2009 to become an artificial reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Franke first photographed the wreck and then digitally added other elements, creating haunting images such as a young girl wielding a butterfly net to capture fish and a workman perched on a crossbeam to eat his lunch.
The 4- by 5-foot photographs were then mounted in sealed frames and displayed on the Vandenberg’s weather deck 93 feet beneath the ocean’s surface.
The exhibit’s Studios of Key West debut is to be followed by a 9 p.m. reception at Pat Croce’s Rum Barrel Key West Restaurant, 528 Front St. Croce is a bestselling author and acclaimed pirate expert whose books include “Pirate Soul: A Swashbuckling Journey through the Golden Age of Pirates.”
Friday’s scheduled highlight is the world premiere screening of a documentary film by Joe and Ozlem Berg telling the story of “The Sinking World” project. The screening is set for 7:30 p.m. upstairs at the Rum Barrel.
Two presentations are to follow the premiere. Mike Ange is to speak on “Technical Wreck Diving in Key West,” while Jeff Dey of Reefmakers, who co-organized the sinking of the Vandenberg, is to discuss “Artificial Reefs: We Need Them Now More Than Ever.”
On both evenings, attendees can view the work of renowned underwater photographer Don Kincaid, who documented the search for the 1622 Spanish galleon “Nuestra Señora de Atocha” off Key West. Kincaid, Franke, Croce, and the Bergs will be on hand to meet underwater enthusiasts.
During the event, diving aficionados can enjoy special rates from participating Keys dive operators on explorations of the Vandenberg and other shipwrecks featured on the official Florida Keys “Wreck Trek” passport.
In addition, two-for-one admission specials are to be offered at museums and attractions including the Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum in Key West and the Florida Keys History of Diving Museum in Islamorada.
“The Sinking World” exhibit is to continue through Feb. 15, 2013.