Henry La Cagnina
Henry La Cagnina’s love affair with Key West goes back 60 years. When the Great Depression shook our nation’s economy in 1933, Key West was particularly hit hard with 85% of its people on relief. Wrecking and cigar making had come to an end. Key West was overpopulated and there was no space for industry or agriculture. Tourism was gearing up in South Florida, but it was focused on the wide white beaches. To help restore the town’s economy, the federal government, via the WPA, turned to a different kind of tourism for the Keys. Thirteen artists were chosen to share their visions of the unique cultural climate of the Keys with the rest of the country. And it worked. Key West became a showcase for cultural tourism. Today, there are more galleries and artist per capita than anywhere else in the country. Henry LaCagnina was one of the thirteen artists eventually selected for this project. His career was in full swing then and has continued unabated till this day.
Henry La Cagnina studied at Cooper Union, the Phoenix Art Institute and with various prestigious artist including; Walter Biggs, Gaetano Ceceri and Lazarus Phoenix. Over his 60 year career, La Cagnina has worked in many aspects of art. The fifth generation of Italian church painters, La Cagnina was raised in a tradition that required expertise in practical and fine art applications as well as varying media. He has applied this tradition over the course of his career. His posters encouraged the war effort along with those of 350 other invited artists were exhibited at the National Gallery in Washington, D. C. in 1943 and toured nationwide. His work has been collected by the Fords, Melons and others. La Cagnina has owned galleries, developed a reputation as a muralist, industrial designer, educator and art jurist as well as achieving ongoing success as a fine artist .