Key West exhibit showcases playwright Tennessee Williams’ rarely seen paintings

Art student Rachel Burke walked into the new Tennessee Williams exhibit and had an instant reaction: “I never knew he was a painter.”

She’s not alone. Williams, once called America’s Greatest Living Playwright, is renowned worldwide for literary works including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie — now playing as a hit revival on Broadway.

But even during Williams’ lifetime, few outside the island city, where he owned a house on Duncan Street for 34 years until his death in 1983, knew that he painted. But this exhibit, up through early April at the Custom House Museum, showcases Williams’ other creative side, expressed with acrylics, oil paints, pencil, chalk and the occasional stick-on letters.

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