The Views of Writers & Journalist About Hongkongwillie
It All Started On A Tampa Dump
Reuse Became the way of life. To read the story from the inception of the Name Hong Kong Willie.
Famed, by the humble statements from the Key West Citizen, viable
art from reuse has found its time. .To Live a life in the art world,
and be so blessed to make a social impact. Artists are to give back,
talent is to tell a story, to make change. Reuse is a life experience
THE IRONY OF IT ALL
Hong Kong Willie Art ,Blue Marlin Dream of Key West. $225,000
My Father was a generous man . Hillsborough County was in need for a dump. They showed him studies that DUMPS(they called SANITARY LANDFILL) WERE SAFE. HE DONATED THE LAND FOR THAT USE. NEVER RECEIVED ONE CENT OF COMPENSATION,AND DID THIS AS A PUBLIC SERVICE.
of MSW from 1958 to 1962.
It,(was the dump) that had all this media, and a young enterprising mind. Not enough time to capture it all.
Predestined for the Green Movement
Eye-catching landmark at Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75 ,Famous Florida Artist Hongkongwillie Art Gallery
New Tampa Patch
The Story Behind the Eye-Catching Art at I-75 Exit 266 Tampa Florida
Sometimes, it’s the smallest experiences that have the biggest impact on a person’s life.
While attending an art class in 1958 at the age of 8, Famous Florida Artist, Joe Brown recalled being mesmerized by the lesson. It involved transforming a Gerber baby bottle into a piece of art.
Gerber bottle had no intrinsic value at all,” he said. “But when (the
instructor) got through with me that day, she made me see how something
so (valueless) can be valuable.”
the time class was over, Brown learned many other lessons, too, such as
the importance of volunteerism, recycling, reuse and giving back to the
community. He recalled being impressed by the teacher’s volunteer work
in Hiroshima, Japan, helping atomic bomb survivors.
of the last words she ever spoke to me about that was, ‘When I left, I
left out of Hong Kong,’ ” he said. After turning that over in his young
brain for awhile, he decided to use it in a nickname, adding the name
“Willie” a year later.
You’ve probably seen Hong Kong Willie’s eye-catching home/gallery/studio at Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75. But what is the story of the man behind all those buoys and discarded objects turned into art?
practiced his creative skills through his younger years. But as an
adult, he managed to amass a small fortune working in the materials
management industry. By the the ’80s, he left the business world and
decided to concentrate on his art. He spent some years in the Florida
Keys honing his craft and building his reputation as a folk artist. He
also bought some land in Tampa near Morris Bridge Road and Fletcher
Avenue where he and his family still call home.
purchased the land just after the entrances and exits to I-75 were
built. He said he was once offered more than $1 million for the land by a
restaurant. He turned it down, he said, preferring instead to make part
of the property into a studio and gallery for the creations he and his
family put together.
all of it is made of what most people would consider “trash.” Pieces of
driftwood, burlap bags, doll heads, rope — anything that comes Brown’s
way becomes part of his vocabulary of expression, and, in turn, becomes
something else, which makes a tour of his property somewhat of a visual
adventure. What at first seems like a random menagerie of glass,
driftwood and pottery suddenly comes together in one’s brain to form
something completely different. One moment nothing, the next a powerful
statement about 9/11.
One Man’s Trash …
Trash? There is no such thing, Brown seems to say through his art.
He keeps a blog about his art at hongkongwillie.blogspot.com. .
his shop, he has fashioned many smaller items out of driftwood, burlap
bags and other materials into signs, purses, totes, bird feeder hangars
and yard sculptures.
sells a lot to the regular influx of University of South Florida
parents and students every year who are are at first intrigued by the
“buoy tree” and the odd-looking building they see as they take Exit 266
Brown Sells More Than Art
Of course, the real locals know Brown’s place for the quality of his worms.
there’s one thing that Brown knows does well in the ground, it’s the
Florida red worm, something he enthusiastically promotes, selling the
indigenous species to customers for use in their compost piles. Some of
his customers say his worms are just as good at the end of a fishing
be honest, what made me come here is that they had scriptures on the
top of his bait cans,” said customer John Brin. “Plus, they have good
service. They’re nice and they’re kind, and they treat you like family.”
Brin knows Brown sells them mostly for composting, he said they are
great for catching blue gill, sand perch and other local favorites.
He also added that he likes getting his worms from Brown “because his
bait stays alive longer than any other baits I’ve used.”
For prices and amounts, he has another blog dedicated just to worms.
course, many people also stop by to buy the smaller pieces of art that
he and his family create: purses made of burlap, welcome signs made of
driftwood, planters and other items lining the walls of his store.
He’s also helped put his mark on the decor of local establishments too, such as Gaspar’s Patio, 8448 N. 56th st.
Jimmy Ciaccio said that when it came time to redecorate the restaurant
several years ago, there was only one person to call for the assignment,
and that was his good friend Brown.
known Joe all my life, and we always had a good chemistry together,”
Ciaccio said. “He’s very creative and fun to be around, and that’s how
it all came about.”
says he still gets compliments all the time for the restaurant’s
atmosphere he created using the “trash” supplied by Brown. He describes
the style as a day at the beach, like a visit to Old Key West. “They’re
so inspired, they want to decorate their own homes this way,” he said.
that kind of testimony that makes Brown feel good, knowing that others,
too, are inspired to create instead of throw away when they see his
work. He simply lets his work speak for itself.
Hongkongwillie Famous Florida Artist was once told to keep telling the story and they will keep coming,and
they always do.”Every piece of art that is made, and every project we do
is done for a reason. It doesn’t matter if that reason shows up the
next day, or walks in six years later; every piece of art will find a
home.” Famed, by the humble
statements from the Key West Citizen, viable art from reuse has found
Famous Florida Artist of Google,Facebook ,Twitter ,WEIRD FLORIDA: ROADS LESS TRAVELED Charlie Carlson visits one of the weirdest guys in the world, Hong Kong Willie. WEIRD FLORIDA: ROADS LESS TRAVELED
Weird Florida Hong Kong Willie episode
FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE
S.L. GIMBEL FOUNDATION.
IN THIS EDITION OF “
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
$176,000 U.S. Dollars
Black Bird of Key Largo $98,000
allurement of the winds blowing in the palm trees and the moon shining
through and the “Black Bird of Key Largo” looking upon.
KONG WILLIE artist Kim Brown, chose aged Florida sawmill stock as
canvas. Recovered Brass Hanger: Key West lobster trap rigging.
Originally connects and suspends rigging of spiny lobster traps in Key
West waters. Candy-like appearance due to multiple protective layers.
Assigned number in artist register by Fisherman ID tag, corresponding
burn-etched # rear of piece. Key recovered by Robert Jordan, acclaimed
treasure hunter: also in identification of piece and artist.