Tennessee Williams: Playwright and Painter at Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, through October 7, 2018

“This exhibit features nine of Tennessee William’s paintings dating from the 1970s. The paintings are on loan from David Wolkowsky, one of Williams’ closest friends and long-standing Key West resident. Wolkowsky entertained Williams at his private island on Ballast Key, nine miles off of Key West and at his Pier House Resort. Williams was one of the most admired playwrights of the 20th century. While he wrote fiction and motion picture screenplays, Williams is most widely known for his plays, which are chiefly set in the South. Several of his plays including, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are considered among the finest of the American stage. Painting was a passion for Williams, almost to the point that it became a second profession. Toward the end of his life, Williams gradually gave up writing for painting; for him, painting was an easier form of self-expression. Critics did not think as much of his painting as his plays, however his artwork remains widely popular among collectors.” — Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU

“The story behind these paintings, and the close friendship between Wolkowsky and Williams, is just one example of the many unexpected treasures in the rich history of Jewish culture in the State of Florida, spanning four centuries,” said Susan Gladstone, the Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. “The fact that Williams painted, much less that he painted in Key West, is a surprise to many and his paintings have mostly remained outside of the public eye. We are honored to have these works here at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, and to be one of the few museums that David Wolkowsky has selected to exhibit these works outside of their Key West home.”

Michael York, by Tennessee Williams (1970s), oil and pencil on canvas. On loan from David Wolkowsky.

The Blaze of the Moment, by Tennessee Williams (1970s), oil on canvas. On loan from David Wolkowsky.

Citizen of World III, by Tennessee Williams (1970s), oil on canvas board. On loan from David Wolkowsky.

The Tidings Brought to Mary at Far Rockaway, by Tennessee Williams (1975), oil on canvas. On loan from David Wolkowsky.

She Sang Beyond the Genius of the Sea, by Tennessee Williams (1976), oil on canvas. On loan from David Wolkowsky.

Le Solitaire, by Tennessee Williams (1976), oil on canvas board. On loan from David Wolkowsky.

Tennessee Williams painting in Key West.

A signed portrait from Tennessee Williams, inscribed to David Wolkowsky, reads: “Dear David – It’s been one hell of a trip. Love, Tennessee”

Images courtesy Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU.