Famous Florida Artist .Updated 7/20/2017



  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. Important living artist to Tampa Bay Hongkongwillie .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

Famous artist raised on Tampa city dump,like living in the Penthouse in the upper east side. A brand meant for this time.







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.

 It,(was the dump) that had all this media, and a young enterprising mind. Not enough time to capture it all.



Thanks To One Of Our Supporters Tom Steyer and Next Gen Climate . We Are Honored to Have on Display The Wood Ark that Tours Florida To Promote Climate Change

 

 



 

 

 



 

Predestined for the Green Movement


Eye-catching landmark at Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75 ,Famous Florida Artist Hongkongwillie Art Gallery

 

Famous Florida Artist Raised on Tampa city dump,like living in the Penthouse in the upper east side.

Gunn Highway Landfill

The Gunn Highway Landfill is located
off Gunn Highway in Tampa, Hillsborough
County, Florida. The county operated the landfill
 as a trench-type facility for the disposal

of MSW from 1958 to 1962.

New Tampa Patch 

By Tristram DeRoma 

The Story Behind the Eye-Catching Art at I-75 Exit 266 Tampa Florida

 Famous  Florida Artist Joe Brown, better known as
“Hong Kong Willie,” makes art with a message at his home/studio near 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.

“The
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.”

By
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.

“One
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?

Brown
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.

Brown
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.

And
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. .

In
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.

He
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
off I-75.

Brown Sells More Than Art

Of course, the real locals know Brown’s place for the quality of his worms.

If
there’s one thing that Brown knows does well in the ground, it’s the
Florida redworm, 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
hook, though.

“To
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.”

Though
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.

Of
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.

Owner
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.

“I’ve
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.”

Ciaccio
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.

It’s
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.

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

 

Blue Marlin Dream of Key West.

$225,000  Hong Kong Willie Art

 


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
its time.

 

 


A Tampa couple devotes itself to creating something from nothing

 

 

Alex Pickett

Drive south on I-75, look to the right around East Fletcher Avenue,
and you can’t miss it. The tree appears first, hundreds of buoys wrapped
around its branches, resembling a sort of Dr. Seuss-ian Christmas
ornament. Then the rest of the 20,000 buoys come into view — thousands
of strands of the multicolored foam balls stretching from the tree to
two wooden shacks, hanging from their roofs and walls, and stretched out
over the property.


Strewn about the lawn is a menagerie
of surfboards, car doors, CB radios, wooden sculptures and painted
signs. A 1979 Ford pickup sits in the front driveway, painted with a
rainbow of colors, four racks of antlers affixed to its roof. An old
stuffed caribou sits in a lawn chair beckoning visitors.


Of
the thousands of motorists who pass by this eclectic landmark off Exit
266 every day, few stop in the funky gift shop and Key West-themed folk
art gallery that is
Famous Florida Artist Hong Kong Willie’s. But this is not your typical
roadside store selling cheesy Florida magnets and beach T-shirts
(although they have those, too). From the moment the owners come out to
greet you, it’s clear that for them this isn’t just a business — it’s a
lifestyle.


As I step out of my car, Joe Brown ambles
toward me wearing a red Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts. With his
disheveled shoulder-length brown hair and strong jaw line, Brown, 56,
looks a lot like Mel Gibson in Braveheart. He ends most of his
sentences with “Do you follow me?” and stares with wild gray eyes until
you nod in agreement. His 46-year-old wife, Kim, who bears a strong
resemblance to Grace Slick, sits near the shop’s open sign, branding her
latest creation. Wearing large sunglasses, she gives a smile, hardly
looking up.


Joe and Kim — Tampa natives — bought the
half-acre property off Fletcher Avenue and Morris Bridge Road in 1985.
For the next two decades, the Browns operated A-24 Hour Bait and Tackle,
living on the premises and bagging worms for K-Mart and Wal-Mart to
make a few extra bucks. But in 2001, they decided to abandon fish food
to pursue the fickle business of art, although they will tell you Hong
Kong Willie’s was always “part of the journey.”


“We were artists,” says Joe. “We were born that way. We had no choice. You follow me?”


The
underlying theme of Hong Kong Willie’s is creating art out of objects
destined for the landfill, and while browsing the items, I get the
feeling the Browns are trying to make a point rather than a sale.


“Thirty
percent of the gifts given will be in the dumpster by next Christmas,”
Joe says. “Most Christmas gifts will be given because they think they
have to. Very few will have a social impact.”


Every item
at Hong Kong Willie’s is either art made out of an object destined for
the landfill or products that other companies were throwing away and the
Browns retrieved before they made it to the dumpster. But don’t call
this recycled art. The Browns prefer “preservation.”


Recycling
implies the material will be used for the same purpose. “If you get
stuck in that word, then you get stuck in that form,” Joe explains.
Instead, the Browns create a whole new use for an item that would have
been otherwise thrown away.


Kim looks up from her painting
after Joe finishes his long ramble. “We’ve always been able to take
nothing and make something out of it,” she says.


Although
most people assume Joe is “Hong Kong Willie,” he says the name refers to
the origin of junk: Hong Kong produces much of the useless merchandise
that Americans buy and quickly throw away, he says. So it’s up to the
Willies of the world — i.e. the Browns and other conservationists — to
find new uses for the trash.


“All of us who believe what we believe is Hong Kong Willie,” Joe says.


The
gift shop is a space not much bigger than a tool shed, cluttered with
handmade candles, pottery, ceramic figures and deer skulls painted
tie-dye style. Joe, who’s not content to allow me to wander by myself,
darts from item to item, sharing each one’s origins. One of the first
objects he shows me is an old scuba tank cut in half, stenciled with
yellow and purple spray paint with a weighted rope attached on the
inside. What would have been a heavy addition to a landfill or junkyard,
the Browns now sell as a nautical-themed bell. Another popular item: a
used Starbucks Frappuccino bottle filled with sand and shells, and the
words “Florida Beachfront Property” written in paint on it.


“Is
it really pragmatic to say this had one life — to have Frappuccino in
it?” he says, holding up the $3 gift. “That’s not true. You follow me?”


Joe
picks up a droopy glass vase — the result of an Arizona Ice Tea bottle
stuck in a kiln for too long. He says it’s a collector’s item: Only 300
were made and none look alike.


“People really want
something that is one of a kind and something that means something,” he
says, holding up the vase and pointing to a stack of Beanie Babies.
“Which one is the real collectible? The one that cannot be copied or the
one that is mass-produced just on a small scale? You follow me?”


Most
of the materials the Browns work with come from Key West. Every few
months they hop in the pickup, drive the 425 miles to the Keys and start
looking for the junk no one else wants: used dive tanks, the lobster
trap buoys, burlap bags and even old wooden planks from ships or homes
destroyed by storms.


In fact, the latter is one of their
biggest sellers. They bring back an imperfect piece of lumber, slap some
urethane on it and Kim paints everything from colorful fish and birds
to old Key West landmarks on it. Every piece is branded, marked with a
lobster cage tag and affixed with brass rings or forks with which to
hang them. In the building opposite the gift shop, among stuffed animals
and fish (Joe was once a taxidermist), 30 of these painted planks hang
from the walls.


Customers are few at Hong Kong Willie’s,
but the Browns say they’re doing well. They never try to push their art
on anyone, figuring that if someone stops and buys something, it was
meant to be. (“A piece of art is a love affair,” Kim says.) They count
Gaspar’s Patio Bar and Grille in Temple Terrace as one of their best
customers. Their other business comes from Tampa residents looking to
add a tiki feel to their backyards. Among Joe’s most popular creations
are old car doors outfitted with waterproof speakers. A few Key West
bars bought the unique sound systems to hang from their ceilings.


But
the Browns are not just content to sell their art to passersby — they
want to live the ideals that inspire their art. The couple is working on
getting their business off the electrical grid and powered completely
by solar energy. Kim wants to start a coffee and ice cream shop with
free wireless Internet to bring in likeminded people. Joe wants to be in
the Guinness Book of World Records for hanging the greatest
number of buoys to a structure (it’s not a category yet). And they’re
always trying to find new uses for the trash they see lining area roads.


“We’re
not just sitting out here being weird,” Joe says suddenly. “We’re
actually taking objects and making these thousands of people say,
‘What’s that?’ We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”


His eyes get wide.


“You follow me?”

 

Hongkongwillie Art Shabby Chic Burlap Art,on Vintage Silk Screen Frame.This is a Hongkongwillie Exclusive.

 

 

 

Hongkongwillie Art
$89.00— Each We have several Different selections.

Hongkongwillie Art Shabby Chic Burlap Art,on Vintage Silk Screen Frame.

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

WEDU ARTS PLUS 112 Hong Kong Willie

  Published in TB2

BY SOHINI LAHIRI

Growing up in Tampa, I spent a period of time fascinated by a quirky,
eye-catching landmark at Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75. This was
also the period of time I spent obsessed with making binoculars out of
toilet paper rolls and necklaces out of pop tops. To me, this sight was
the epitome of similar creative craziness, and I often found myself
looking for it during car journeys, hoping it hadn’t disappeared
overnight.

But time passes and so does the urge for pop-top necklaces, and
observant eyes don’t notice the same sights. It wasn’t until recently
that I once again took note of the scene, with its broken down orange
helicopter, a tree made of what seems to be indestructible balloons and a
blue-and-white house covered with trash remade into art.

It’s the home of Famous  Florida Artist Hong Kong Willie.

I finally paid a visit to this art gallery after many years of
wondering about the story behind it. The pavement leading to the door is
painted with handprints and splatters, the store edged with upside down
Coke bottles. Streams of lobster buoys hang from the roof and also make
up the “tree” I marveled at so often from my car window.

Various shoes, bottles, clocks and signs are glued to the side of the
store, and there’s a tribute to Sept. 11 off to the side. No one seemed
to be home, so I called the number on the “WE’RE OPEN” sign, which
brought a middle-aged man in a bright Hawaiian shirt from behind the
store.

After a few basic questions, Joe Brown begins to open up about the history surrounding his art.

Brown, better known as Hong Kong Willie, says he was an artist from the
start. “Everyone is born an artist,” he said. “However some are granted
the gift of being able to express that art.”

As a young boy, his mother decided to send him to art school, which he says changed the course of his life forever.

At the age of 8, Brown recalls being heavily influenced by the lessons,
which included transforming a Gerber baby bottle, something with no
real value, into a piece of art. His teacher had spent an enormous
amount of time and effort in Hiroshima, Japan, helping those affected by
the atomic bombs. Brown learned many lessons about recycling from this
teacher, who had come from Hong Kong. Brown added an American name,
Willie, to Hong Kong for his nickname Hong Kong Willie.

While Brown grew up to be an artist, he left the world of mainstream art to return to his background in technology.

“But on Nov. 13th, 1981 … on a Friday at 1:30 in the afternoon, I had
an epiphany,” Brown says. “I was at a friend’s house right across the
street,” pausing to point at a row of apartments across from his store,
“and a series of events led me to rejoin the art world.”

With the help of two other artists, Brown set up his business in the
Florida Keys in the early 1980s, then moved it to Tampa. Together, they
believed that they were predestined for the Green Movement, and have
been making art out of recyclables for close to 30 years.

How’s business? He smiles. “It’s pretty wild.”

Inside, Hong Kong Willie’s art includes glossy pieces of driftwood
restored and painted with beautiful landscapes and kernels of truth,
some of the gorgeous work priced in the six figures. But there’s also a
wide collection of handmade bags, wooden sculptures and sassy bracelets
for more moderate prices.

A portion of the proceeds go to benefit the Green Movement, Brown says.

With a laid-back swagger, Brown continues. “We live pretty minimally.
And all the funds we get from donations and our art sales are delegated
to green projects.”

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I decided to visit Hong Kong
Willie. Certainly not the breathtaking art inside, and definitely not
the history behind it. I’m feeling thick-headed for not visiting years
ago, and say so.

Brown offers a last bit of insight:

“I’m a big believer in predestination and timing. If someone is not
ready to view art, the door is closed. 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.”


 

John 3:16

King James Version (KJV)

 


 16For
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Hongkongwillie Art

MYSTERIOSITY


 




$176,000 U.S. Dollars


By Kerry Schofield


The year was 1958. Famous Florida Artist
Joe Brown, 8, lived next to a county dump site in Tampa, Fla. Brown
found old junk, fixed it up and sold it. Brown knew he had a higher
calling in life — he was destined to be an artist.

Brown, who is now 60, makes art from trash at his Hong Kong Willie Art Gallery. He has embellished the outside of the gallery with splashes of Caribbean-color paint and found objects reminiscent of Key West.
Brown
is as colorful as the gallery — he wears a bright tropical shirt with
red, white and blue plaid shorts. Patrons tell him they can smell the
salt water when they drive up. The gallery, however, is perched inland
near Morris Bridge Road and Interstate 75 where a rusty-hair hen named
Fred, first thought to be a rooster, patrols the property. Fred,
abandoned five years ago by tourists, trots between the gallery and
adjacent hotel leaving a trail of droppings behind her.
Brown
lived on the Gunn Highway Landfill from 1958 to 1963. The Hillsborough
County landfill operated for four years and was closed in 1962. “It was
astounding how quick they could fill the 15 acres in pits that were
enormous,” Brown said.
An
apartment complex now sits on top of the old landfill. A report by the
Florida Department of Environmental Protection indicated that a lining
was placed underneath the complex when it was built
to block methane gas from leaking. The gas is a byproduct of rotting garbage.
 As
a child, Brown lived on his father’s dairy and beef farm. Brown said
during heavy rain, the low land on the farm flooded the neighboring Gunn
Highway. In 1957, Hillsborough County officials offered to elevate the
low land to stop the flooding by turning it into a landfill. When the
property was sold in 1984 by Brown’s father, soil testing revealed heaps
of old paper and punctured cans of spray paint.
“They
dug up and took out newspapers like the day they were put in,” Brown
said. “It reminded me of nuclear bombs that were going to go off. They
dumped everything in the landfill.”
As
a child, Brown foraged at nearby dumpsters. County workers saved junk
for him that people dropped off. One day, Brown’s parents got a call
from his elementary school teacher and told them that Brown had $100 in
his pocket and that he must be stealing.
Brown
picked up the saved junk after school and turned it into something new.
Contrary to his elementary school teacher’s accusation, he wasn’t a
thief after all. Instead he was a young entrepreneur who sold other
people’s trash.
“There was so much excess coming into the landfill,” Brown said. “There was so much waste from our society.”
However,
Brown’s mother wanted him to pursue his talents and dreams, not money.
But he developed a business sense during his young junk collecting days
and told his mother, “I’m not going to be an artist. I’ve read that
artists starve to death.”
Brown’s
mother became concerned. He said his mother knew “the value of
happiness and the travels of life” and sent him to a summer art class.
The
art teacher inspired awe in Brown. She taught him how to reuse baby
food jars by melting the glass and adding marbles to the mix to create
paper weights. The teacher had traveled to Hong Kong, China and
Hiroshima, Japan after World War II. She saw how people were forced to
recycle and reuse items out of necessity after the war. This left an
impression on Brown.
It
was at this time that he personified the name Hong Kong Willie, which
harkens back to China where the mass production of merchandise occurs.
The “Willies” are people like Brown and other environmentalists who try
to reuse trash instead of throwing it into landfills.
After
high school, Brown went to college to study business but dropped out
after three years. He worked in the material handling industry until
1981. Although Brown had achieved a successful career and lifestyle, he
had become discouraged in 1979.
“The change came from knowing that I had come to the point of what people call success,” Brown said. “I wasn’t happy inside.”
He
had been diagnosed with depression in 1973, a condition that was caused
from high fructose intake and that lasted for more than four years.
In
1985, Brown and his artist wife, Kim, bought the half-acre property off
Fletcher Avenue and Morris Bridge Road. For two decades the two small
wooden shacks, built around 1965, that now house the gallery operated as
a bait and tackle shop.
Nowadays,
Brown raises and sells worms by the pound mainly for composting. He
recycled 250 thousand pounds in the worm bed in 2009. Brown still sells
the worms for $3.50 a cup for fishing.
In
1981, Brown resurrected the Hong Kong Willie name from his childhood
art class. In the early 1980s, both he and his wife, Kim, began
upcycling trash into art. Brown entered another world when he left his
mainstream lifestyle behind — he joined the art scene and booked rock
bands at the same time.
The
Brown family spent half their time in Tampa and the other half in a
small home on Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. Brown gained the reputation
of the Key West lobster buoy artist.
“I had a total different appearance when in Key West,” Brown said. “I used to have hair down to my waist.”
When Brown came back to Tampa, he lived in the woods for months at a time, much like Henry David Thoreau in “Walden,” who had lived a simple lifestyle in a one room cabin near Walden Pond in Concord, Mass.
Back
in Key West, Brown became friends with local fishermen. He and others
organized efforts to clean up plastic foam buoys that had collected in
the waterways from years of fishing.
“You would go and find buoys floating in the mangroves, up on the shore and they had trashed up everything,” Brown said.
The
Earth Resource Foundation reports that plastic foam is dumped into the
environment. It breaks up into pieces and chokes animals by clogging
their digestive system.
Brown
sells the buoys from the Hong Kong Willie Art Gallery for $2.00 a
piece. He said he has sold from 30 to 40 thousand buoys in the last ten
years. Some of the buoys are more than 50 years old and are collected by
tourists from China and Japan.
“If
you go to the Keys right now and you see a buoy floating, you’ll see
someone slam on the brakes to get it,” Brown said. “They’re the most
prized buoys of the world.”
Brown
made a holiday buoy tree 12 years ago from the Key West buoys. Hundreds
of buoys are strung on rope and wrapped around a utility pole next to
the gallery. Brown hopes the novelty of the buoy tree will inspire and
stimulate children to find new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle
garbage.
In
Kate Shoup’s “Rubbish! Reuse Your Refuse,” the author said much of what
we get is designed to be scrapped after only a few uses. We easily
throw away pens, lighters, razors and dozens of other items. Shoup said
Americans consume 2 million plastic drink bottles every 5 minutes.
Likewise,
Brown finds uses for items that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
He buys used burlap bags from coffee and peanut producers. He sells them
to the U.S. National Forestry Service for the collection of pine seeds
and Samuel Adams for hops production.
Brown and his wife, Kim, also make art hippie bags from the burlap sacks and sell them in the gallery. Kim,
also an artist, paints fish, turtles, crows, parrots and the like on
driftwood and on wood that Brown has salvaged from saw mills and from
old buildings in Key West.
Brown
said art is viewed and appreciated by certain people. “If it all came
out the same, it would be like bland grits all the time,” Brown said. He
likes to refer to the gallery art as reused rather than recycled, which
takes waste and turns it into an inferior product.  Reuse on the other
hand involves remaking an item and using it again for the same intended
purpose.
“I
also try to stay away from imprinting a definite use for a definite
item,” Brown said. He explains that 2-liter bottles are not limited to
making bird feeders. The bottles can be used for art and craft projects
as well.
Brown said the larger message he wants to communicate is that the disposal of garbage today is creating a toxic environment.

 “I still have the original Gerber baby food bottle that I melted” Brown said. “It’s sitting on my mom’s little table.”

 

 

  Black Bird of Key Largo  $98,000  

.

Black Bird of Key Largo
zoom
Black Bird of Key Largo Black Bird of Key Largo Black Bird of Key Largo Black Bird of Key Largo Black Bird of Key Largo
“Black Bird of Key Largo”
The
allurement of the winds blowing in the palm trees and the moon shining
through and the “Black Bird of Key Largo” looking upon.
Hong Kong Willie
**HONG
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.
Dimensions:
24″ L
8″ W
4″ H
Weight: 17+ LB

 

FOX World News   Famous Artist

Tampa, Florida -
Junk Art of Hong Kong Willie

Roadside America mobile

 The Hong Kong Willie Story

 

University of South Florida

 A “documentary film” 

 

Tampa Art Galleries 

 

 

 Famous Artist from the 1960s.
Morris Bridge Road and Interstate 75, Tampa, Fla.
The garden shrubbery consists of recycled glass bottles and aloe vera plants.
Key West Lobster  buoy tree.
Hundreds of lobster buoys from Key West, Fla., strung on rope,
wrapped and tied to a utility pole.
Orange helicopter that once served in
Vietnam and later used by a radio station.


Key West lobster buoys hang from the small 1950s wood frame building.
Tourists buy the buoys for souvenirs. Some of the buoys are 50 years old.  
The exterior of the roadside building is an artful blend of
Caribbean-color paint and found objects.
Seabird plaques, sea glass, melted bottles, painted driftwood
and rusty objects are a few of the items that decorate the wood panels.
Entrance into the small building, which is lined from ceiling to floor
with burlap sacks from South American coffee roasters.
They also buy South American burlap coffee bean sacks. 

 

Reuse artists ,reuse the burlap
and make hippie beach bags.



View photographs of the Hong Kong Willie art gallery

http://kerryschofieldjournal.blogspot.com/2010/09/hong-kong-willie-photomontage.html

 

FOX News,  Famous Florida Artist

Recycling as a Lifestyle and a Business
TAMPA, Fla. – Have you ever seen the building on the corner of Fletcher and I-75 with a bunch of buoys strung everywhere? This small business that many think is an old bait n’ tackle shop is actually Famous  Artist Hong Kong Willie.
Derek Brown, 26, and his family own and operate Hong Kong Willie. The little shop specializes in preservation art. The artists don’t take preservation too lightly either.
“99 percent of everything that has gone into a piece of art has been recycled and reused,” Brown said.
Just as unique as the art is, so is the company’s name. Brown says the name was created by his father, Joe Brown, in the 1950s.
“My father being in an art class, being affected by a teacher, they were melting Gerber baby food bottles,” Brown said. “The teacher interjected that Hong Kong had a great reuse and recycling program even then.”
Brown’s father then took that concept and later added the Americanized name Willie to the end. And that’s how Hong Kong Willie was born as a location that offers recycling in a different and creative way.
Hong Kong Willie artists are what are known as freegans. Freegans are less concerned with materialistic things and more concerned about reducing consumption to lessen the footprint humans leave on this planet.
“I’m sure everyone has their own perception of a freegan, possibly jumping into a dumpster or picking up something on the side of the road,” Brown said. “There [are] people who will have excess. There [are] also things that can be trash to one man, but art or a prize to another man.”
Brown and his family carry this practice through to their art. It’s his family’s way of life, turning trash, which would otherwise fill up landfills, into an art form.
The Brown family gets a lot of their inspiration for their art from the Florida Keys. In fact, this is where the deluge of buoys wrapping around the ‘Buoys Tree’ came from, the fishermen of Key West.
“It is Styrofoam, we understand that it does not degrade, but to blame the fishermen for their livelihood wouldn’t be correct, instead we find a usage for those,” Brown said.
Brown said there’s a usage for everything, even the hooks to hold the painted driftwood, which are also salvaged, to the wall are old bent forks. Everything’s reused here. Purses made out of old coffee bean sacks to “kitschy,” as Brown described it, jewelry made from old baseballs.
“Hong Kong Willie truly believes that a piece, whether it’s a bag or a painted artwork, it’s meant for one person.”
 

Business more than kitsch, Famous  Artist

 

 

Passers-by traveling south on Interstate 75 at Fletcher Avenue might wonder: ‘What’s up with the lobster buoys?’

Strings of the colorful floats adorn Hong Kong Willie, a roadside business with roots in a northwest Hillsborough County landfill and the garbage dumps of Hong Kong.

Poised among chain businesses common at interstate interchanges, Hong Kong Willie sells Florida-centric art, artifacts, worms and even soil for gardeners. As diverse as the inventory seems, there is a theme: promoting a close-to-the-ground, sustainable approach to art and living.

The unusual business is run by Joe Brown, 61; his wife, Kim, 51; and their adult son, Derek.

The enterprise is not named for a particular person. It’s more of a conceptual amalgamation, its owners say.

The recycled burlap coffee bags, lobster buoys and driftwood sold at the store are reflective of Joe Brown’s childhood. As a boy he watched garbage trucks haul Tampa’s trash to a dump on property owned by his family.

“It really made an impression on me,” he said. “It became very easy to think outside the box and know where I could find things from resources that were just abounding.”


* * * * *

When Brown’s mother took him to an art class taught by an instructor who had spent time in post-World War II Asia, he learned how artists there scrounged for materials that had creative potential.

“It was a different kind of recycling because it was done out of need and touched the human spirit and the heart,” he said.

During the past 28 years the Browns have transformed a bait-and-tackle shop into a shrine to sustainable art. But aside from a robot waving an American flag and wearing a “For Sale” sign — and the overall spectacle of the shack-like store itself — there is no signage beckoning drivers to pull into the parking lot of 12212 Morris Bridge Road or to wander over from a nearby Bob Evans restaurant.

“There has never been, in all the years of being here, some massive sign saying who we are and what we do,” Joe Brown said. “Because when people finally decide out of inquisitiveness to slow down and stop, they’ve finally slowed down enough to hear the most important message of their life.”

Most of their business is conducted online through sites such as Etsy. Their catalog includes crafts and artwork created with recovered material such as wood from sawmills and the sides of demolished Key West homes. Kim Brown paints on the recycled materials; her “Eye of Toucan” painting, for example, is for sale for $8,100. Other featured items include handbags made from decorated burlap coffee bean bags for $25, and potato chip platters morphed from heated and shaped vinyl records for $4.99.

The ubiquitous painted lobster buoys are big sellers. They go for a few dollars each depending on condition and artistic application.

The Browns travel frequently to the Florida Keys, promoting their art and gathering raw materials such as the buoys, driftwood and even an orange helicopter. Joe Brown said the chain of islands at Florida’s southern tip hold an attraction for the family beyond being a source of creative flotsam.

“That is a place of resourcefulness,” he said, “because they’re not the kind of people to rely upon the government.”


* * * * *

Customers include people with a taste for subtropical creations. Gaspar’s Patio Bar and Grille in Temple Terrace, for example, bought décor from Hong Kong Willie to complement its island-themed menu offerings, such as Key Largo burgers and margaritas.

Gaspar’s owner Jimmy Ciaccio, whose family opened the 56th Street restaurant in 1960 as the Temple Terrace Lounge, said the Browns’ inventory reflected his vision when he remodeled the restaurant.

“Joe’s work inspires me,” Ciaccio said. “I always see something different every time I look at how he decorated the place.”

In much the same way the Brown family creates art with recycled materials, they produce gardening soil by composting vegetation and waste material.

Florida red worms are Brown’s natural allies in this endeavor. They, too, are for sale — by the pound for gardeners and by the cup for fishermen.

Whether it’s creating and marketing sustainable kitsch or fertile soil, Joe Brown, whose other occupation is providing trend analyses to businesses, finds satisfaction in the work.

“I just feel so fortunate to be able to sit here and see assets that could be sitting in a big trench and there would be no energy coming from it,” he said. “And now a lot of it is finding homes in peoples’ houses and businesses and getting people to think about reuse.”

 

Eye of Toucan – Hong Kong WIllie

Original Art $8100.00

To Buy Click This Link

Eye of Toucan - Hong Kong WIllie Original Art
zoom
Eye of Toucan - Hong Kong WIllie Original Art Eye of Toucan - Hong Kong WIllie Original Art Eye of Toucan - Hong Kong WIllie Original Art Eye of Toucan - Hong Kong WIllie Original Art Eye of Toucan - Hong Kong WIllie Original Art
Hong Kong Willie “Eye of Toucan”
 
Authentic Key West influenced art. What once would have been sawdust spread to the wind, is now what you see here.
 
Superior reuse of materials.
 
Wood Source: Aged Sawmill Stock
Copper Hanger Source: Reclaimed Wire

 

Backing Screw Source: Reclaimed Brass Screw
Key West Fisherman ID Tag Referenced in Artists Log
Hong Kong Willie Artist: Kim Brown
FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE
S.L. GIMBEL FOUNDATION.
IN THIS EDITION OF “WEDU ARTS PLUS,Hongkongwillie
A LOCAL ARTS AND ARTIFACTS BUSINESS TRANSFORMS TRASH
INTO TREASURE.
>> I THINK I WAS MEANT TO TELL THE STORY ABOUT REUSE.
THE PERSON IS NOT IMPORTANT.
THE STORY IS IMPORTANT.AS A BOY,Florida Famous Artist JOE BROWN WATCHED GARBAGE TRUCKS HAUL TRASH TO A
DUMP ON HIS FAMILY PROPERTY.
TODAY, HE RUNS A TAMPA PRESERVATION ART BUSINESS CALLED HONG
KONG WILLIE, WHERE BURLAP BAGS AND LOBSTER BUOYS ARE
CONVERTED TO WORKS OF ART.
>> MY NAME IS JOE BROWN.
MY ART NAME IS HONG KONG WILLIE.
I AM A REUSE ARTIST TAKING MEDIA THAT WOULD HAVE NATURALLY
BEEN DISPOSED OF IN LANDFILLS AND ADDING THE GIFT THAT I’VE
BEEN GIVEN TO MAKE SOMETHING THAT SOMEBODY POSSIBLY MIGHTHAVE AN ALLUREMENT TO AND ATTRACTION TO.
REUSE AND RECYCLING CAME FROM BEING RAISED ON A LANDFILL ON
GUNN HIGHWAY HERE IN TAMPA.
IT WAS AN ENTRAPPING WAY WITH VERY LITTLE FUNDS TO MAKE
SOMETHING THAT WAS ATTRACTIVE AND REWARDING TO ME
PERSONALLY.
¶¶
>> ACQUIRING MEDIA, SUCH AS BOARDS, STARTED WHEN WE WERE
PICKING UP BOARDS MAYBE FROM BUILDINGS THAT HAD BEEN
DESTROYED FROM THE HURRICANES.
BOARDS THAT CAME FROM HISTORICAL BUILDINGS IN THE KEYS.
SOME OF THE REAL THICK, THICK HEAVY BOARDS WERE BOARDS THAT
I THINK WERE CUT ROUGH CUT.
THE SMOOTHNESS CAME OUT OF MANY YEARS OF WEARING.
WE ACQUIRED SOME BOARDS THAT CAME FROM THE ORIGINAL RAILROAD
BRIDGE THAT FLAGLER BUILT.
I THINK ALL ARTISTS SOMETIMES INVOKE THE FEELINGS AND THE
STORIES ABOUT THE MEDIA THAT THEY ARE WORKING WITH.
I THINK THAT ART, ESPECIALLY WHEN SOMEONE FALLS IN LOVE WITH
IT, THEY WANT TO KNOW THE STORY.
AND BECAUSE OF THE KEYS HAVING THE TREMENDOUS EFFECT THAT IT
HAS ON US, AND BECAUSE OF WHAT HAS SHAPED THE KEYS, THERE
COMES A TIME WHERE ALL OF IT COMES TOGETHER AND THAT’S WHAT
MAKES IT SO SPECIAL.
THROUGHOUT THE YEARS, THE OUTSIDE OF THE BUILDING CHANGESWITH DIFFERENT MEDIA THAT WE’VE ACQUIRED.
AS YOU DRIVE IN THE DRIVEWAY, YOU’LL SEE HAND PRINTS AND
SOME SPRINKLED PAINT WITH ACTIVITY.
WE TRY TO USE LITTLE DIFFERENT MINIPICTURES OUT THERE WHERE
YOU MIGHT SEE A SIGN HANGING ON A TENNIS SHOE WITH A TV
REMOTE.
SHOES THAT HAVE FLOATED UP FROM THE OCEANS THAT WE’VE USED
SOMETIMES TO INVOKE THOUGHTS OF WHERE WE WERE AT A
PARTICULAR TIME.
THE TRAVELS OF THOSE SHOES.
THERE ARE BOARDS OUT THERE THAT WE’VE ACQUIRED THAT WE’VE
MADE LITTLE DESIGNS ON.
I FOUND THAT MOST WOOD, PROBABLY THE WORK IS ALREADY THERE.
YOU’RE GOING TO DO A LITTLE BIT OF SHAVING, A LITTLE BIT OF
CARVING.
BEFORE YOU KNOW IT, THE OBJECT IS FINISHED.
AFTER 9/11 HAPPENED, I REALIZED HOW GREAT A MIRACLE WAS.
I HAD A LOT OF MEDIA AROUND AND I STARTED WITH THE CROSS.
AND I PUT THE CROSS UP.
THEN I HAD SOME LITTLE OBJECTS THAT WERE POLICEMEN AND
FIREMEN, AND I PUT THEM IN THERE.
AND THEN I HAD SOME OLD BEEPERS FOR THE TECHNOLOGY, AND THEN
ANOTHER TWO OBJECTS THAT WERE SHERLOCK HOLMES AND NAPOLEON
FOR POWER AND INVESTIGATING.
I LOOKED OVER IN A PILE OF WOOD, AND THERE WAS A SHAPE OF APIECE OF WOOD AND A NINE.
NEXT TO IT WAS TWO PIECES THAT LOOKED LIKE 11.
BEFORE I KNEW IT, IT ALL CAME TOGETHER.
I BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST.
AS TO WHERE IF WE CAN FIND MEDIA THAT’S EASILY OBTAINABLE
AND ADD OUR TALENTS TO IT, IT BECOMES VERY REWARDING IN THAT
FACTOR, BECAUSE WE HAVE LESSENED THE COMPLICATED FACTOR AND
TAKEN SOMETHING THAT’S WITHIN US AND HAD THE MEDIA ANDI THINK I AM JUST A PERSON THAT’S IN THIS ELEMENT TELLING A
STORY.
THE PERSON IS NOT IMPORTANT.
THE STORY IS IMPORTANT.

Google Hong Kong Willie

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Worm+Farms+Florida,Worm Farms In Florida,Florida Worm Farms.+Updated 7/20/2017

Worm+Farms+Florida,Worm Farms In Florida,Florida Worm Farms.
One Half pound Florida Composting Red Wiggler Worms with micobic starter media mixed without chlorinated water is $25.00.
One pound of Florida Composting Red Wiggler Worms with micobic starter media mixed without chlorinated water for $49.99.

 

Thanks you for your interest in Florida Red Worms. We are a Company that specializing in a native Red worms to the U.S.  Vermicomposting with native Red Worms is a safe composting approach. Red Worms are great for turning your food left overs into compost.

$4.50 per cup

  24 large Florida Red Wigglers Worms per cup, Fishing Worm Size

We Sell by size of Red worm,which are large. On the average is 450 Red worms to a pound. The reason why we don’t ship by thousands or use this term is because it can be confusing. To explain, a thousand grains of sand is one thing, or a pound of sand is a something else.When ordering Red worms by the thousand expect worm size to be smaller than a needle. Selling large Red worms which are like a chicken ready to lay eggs and stress less. Our Red Worm Farm Started in 1965. Any question call 813 770 4794 $49.99 per pound .

$4.00 per cup 24 compost worms per cup. 1/2 pound with microbic starter media is $25.00 ,1 lb with micro starter media is $49.99

Call us Today, We are Here,

Ask for

Hong Kong Willie. 813 770 4794

In Tampa Hongkongwillie Red worm Farm sells a Native Red Worm to Florida. This worm is is part of a solution for eliminating part of your waste going to landfills around Tampa. Vermicomposting is the process of using worms and micro-organisms to turn kitchen waste into a black, earthy-smelling, nutrient-rich humus. This possess is a inexpensive way to compost and in return organic matter into rich soil.  People in Tampa interested in composting   have visited Hongkongwillie Red worm Farm for over 30 years.  Hong Kong Willie Red worm Farm in Tampa started in 1965,from Hongkongwillie living  on a landfill as a child in Tampa on Gunn Hwy. This making a large impact on his life. Composting with Red worms  can reduce a large amount of our waste that go to Landfills.Studies have shown that invasive worms (Eisenia foetida, or”European Night crawlers). Their voracious appetites and reproductive rates (Eisenia foetida, or”European Night crawlers) have been known to upset the delicate balance of the hardwood forests by consuming the leaf litter too quickly. cause natural  impact on the environment.

Note We sell a Florida Red Worm that is native to Florida.
WE DO NOT SELL

Eisenia foetida

Eisenia foetida, or”European Night crawlers.”are non native worms,This is why we
with any non-native species, it is important not to allow them to reach the wild. Their voracious appetites and reproductive rates (especially among the red wigglers) have been known to upset the delicate balance of the hardwood forests by consuming the leaf litter too quickly. This event leaves too little leaf letter to slowly incubate the hard shelled nuts and leads to excessive erosion as well as negatively affecting the pH of the soil. So, do your best to keep them confined!

Note We sell a Florida Red Worm that is native to Florida.

 

Eisenia foetida

Eisenia fetida, known under various common names, including redworms, brandling worms, tiger worms and red wiggler worms, are a species of earthworm adapted to decaying organic material. They thrive in rotting vegetation, compost, and manure; they are epigeal. They are rarely found in soil, instead like Lumbricus rubellus they prefer conditions where other worms cannot survive. They are used for vermicomposting. They are native to Europe, but have been introduced (both intentionally and unintentionally) to every other continent except Antarctica, occasionally threatening native species.

Here is a Little of History

on Hong Kong Willie

FOX NEWS FLORIDA

Florida Worm Farms,Florida+Worm+Farms,Worm Farms in Florida.

JEFF STIDHAM
TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
North Tampa- The night light shines like a beacon on the bait shop’s buzzer, beckoning to early morning and nocturnal fishermen.
At A-24 Hour Bait the workday doesn’t end. The rustic store sits off the Fletcher Avenue ramp to Interstate 75 South. A windowless blue mobile home and worm bed are it’s companions on a one-acre slice of land.
The buildings are a sharp contrast to their new neighbors, Hidden River Corporate Park rising out of the woods on the north and growing Tampa Telecom Park on the west.
Owners Joe and Kim Brown work about 20 hours a day, occasionally resting in “the cave”, the mobile home they live in behind the store.
The couple’s shop is well stocked with shiners and worms.
“What we try to do here is carry the best of baits,” Joe Brown said.
He’s got night crawlers from Canada, salamanders from North Dakota and wigglers from his own worm bed behind the store. A refrigerated tank is home to cured shiners and minnows sedated by the cold.
“Wild shiners in a non-refrigerated tank would be going crazy,” Brown said as he peered into a tank of fish separated by size. “They’d be jumping around trying to commit suicide. With the cold water they’re pretty sedate, but you let the water (temperature) rise, a shiner would be like a race horse.”
Larger shiners are selling for $24 a dozen a dozen today because the fish are dispersed and spawning, so they’re are difficult to catch. Normally, large shiners cost around a $1.50 each, Brown said.
Good bait, proximity to the Hillsborough River and convenient hours lure in fishermen.
“It’s all the time,” Brown said. Catfish lovers are out early to snag popular fishing spots, and during snook season there’s a real run for shiners, he said.
It’s not uncommon for someone to ring the bell at 3 a.m.
“I stick my head out of the door real fast and tell them I’ll be there. It takes a lot for someone to ring a bell that time of the day,” Brown said.
The Browns opened their shop about two years ago with a top notch but small stock of bait and tackle. Born anglers, they knew it was hard to get bait late at night or early in the morning, so they decided to stay open 24 hours.
Now they think their hard work is paying off. The shop has gradually grown to include all kinds of lures and bobbers, rods and reels. Hillsborough River fishermen know they’re there. And others find out every day, Brown said.
“I’ve seen this place a bunch of times, off the interstate, but this is the first time I’ve been here,” customer Michael Walker said one afternoon. “We got a pretty good (fishing) hole near here, so this will suit us just fine.”
Walker said he’s been to a few saltwater bait shops that were open till midnight.
“But I don’t know any that stay open past midnight,” he said.
Although sometimes blurry-eyed when he waits on customers, Brown is never too tired to swap fish stories and other tips.
Normally when he’s fishing with a shiner, Brown hooks the bait behind the rear dorsal fin with a Khale hook. A bass usually grabs a smaller fish head first, so the gills and fins smooth back as the larger fish swallows its victim, Brown said.
But during spawning season, like now, he uses a straight hook and punctures the crease at the bottom of the shiner’s mouth, hooking upward through a hole in the snout.
“Now bass are eating and striking so hard they take him and swallow him,” Brown said.
The shop has given Brown more than a chance to make a living and tell stories. A former designer of conveyor systems, he gave up two houses, boats and other luxuries to move to the woods 10 years ago.
“I had what you’re supposed to want,” Brown said. “I just wasn’t happy.”
But he loved the river, and he lived for years on the Hidden River property north of his shop. Today he said he thinks the land surrounding his home will become Tampa’s version of Central Park.
“I had the foresight to have bait and tackle because there’s 25,000 acres of Southwest Florida Water Management district property adjoining the river that will always be public,” Brown said.
Lettuce Lake Park, Trout Creek, Wilderness Park, Hillsborough River State Park and other natural settings also are permanent parts of the landscape, he said.
As the area grows, the Browns hope their business will follow suit. They feel lucky that they’re in the middle of a developing area minutes from the pristine quiet of the undeveloped Hillsborough River.
Soon Joe Brown plans to have canoes for rent.
“We’re going to grow slow, we don’t believe in carrying debt,” he said. “It takes a lot to start a business.” We’ve had to sacrifice, but we wouldn’t trade it.”


HILLSBOROUGH RIVER ROLLIN’ ALONG
FRANK SERGEANT
Tribune Outdoors Editor
The Hillsborough River has seen some tough times, It’s been dammed and drained and polluted and sea-walled almost to the point of death.
But it keeps on hanging in there. Old man river just keeps on rollin’.
The upper river, above the Fowler Avenue bridge, shows fits and starts of the sort of thing that brought the lower river to its knees years back. But all things considered, its still got a whole lot to offer a city-world wearied soul.
I went up there a week or so ago with Joe Brown and his fishing guide pal Ted Sawyer, both Hillsborough River fans since they wore knee pants.
Joe asked ask me to ride along to take a look at some of the trashing problems that are starting to peak out here and there along the shore lines, and we saw more of it than you’d hope to.
But what we saw mostly was rich-looking black water and tall, thick cypress dams, lots of birds and fish and turtles. And solitude.
It’s not pristine wilderness. But considering it’s within shooting distance of the downtown towers of a major American metropolis, the upper Hillsborough ain’t bad. Not bad at all.
The river snakes through the backyards of a number of homes and an apartment complex or two until it slips under the Fletcher Avenue bridge. From there on up, city turns country in a hurry. There’s a landing at Tampa Palms, but you can’t see any buildings, and for much of the rest of it, the river swamp spreads out all around the flow, a lot like it must have when Tampa was a two-bit fishing village 10 miles away.
There are lots of interesting creeks to explore, including several that Joe said were excellent bassing spots.
HILLSBOROUGH RIVER ENDURES DESPITE TRASH

Red Worms Florida Google Map HongkongwillieLettuce Lake, the only open spot in the river, gave us a look at the county park tower where folks so inclined can view the swamp without getting their feet wet. And a little further up, we found the buzzards.
They come in hundreds, maybe in thousands, Joe said, every winter. They show up in November, they stay until March. They festoon the trees in dozens, fight and hold discussions along the banks, bath in the river.
Yep. Buzzards bath.
Apparently they get a bit too strong even for themselves after a time. We watched a dozen of them flutter like sparrows in a bird bath as they washed up along a sandy shoreline near Nature’s Classroom.
The birds roost in the trees along the river at night, fly out over the surrounding pasture land by day looking for assorted horribles to fill their stomachs.
Sometimes they go visit the downtown towers, where they whirl for hours on the thermals of heated air rising up the glass cliffs.
We found the trash piles, too. Heaps of plastic cups, beer cans, paper plates, the fallout from the civilization that bustles around the edges of this little piece of wilderness.
Joe said he can’t understand why folks would take the trouble to come out here, to get away from the pollution and the ugliness of some parts of the city, and then turn the shorelines into a dump wit their leftovers.
I couldn’t either.
Joe Brown runs 24-Hour Bait, on Morris Bridge Road just off Fletcher Avenue. It’s the nearest bait shop to the river, and the only one that operates around the clock. (Well, sort of around the clock. If you show up at 3 a.m., you have to press the buzzer and wait a couple of minutes until Joe rolls out of the sack and comes on down to the shop to serve you.)
The folks who buy bait there return with stories of their successes, and this along with his own long angling experience has allowed Brown to put together a pretty good picture of what works, when, on the river.
Wild shiners, Joe says, are the choice offering for the river’s large mouth.
“We sell ’seasoned’ shiners that have been in chilled, chemically treated water for a week or two. This gives them a slightly silvery color, makes their scales a lot tougher and makes them stay alive on the hook longer than domestic shiners or even fresh-caught wild ones,” he says.
Brown says the way to fish the shiners is to use a Kahle-style hook with a big bend, made of light wire so the bait stays lively. The hook should be inserted under the skin back of the dorsal fin. The bait is then either free-lined, with no weight or cork, or with a cork only, around beds of floating grass and along the deeper cypress shores.
Joe says that simply putting a couple of the baits out behind the boat and letting it drift with the current will also turn up plenty of fish.
He says the side creeks are good spots to fish plastic worms, rigged Texas style with a slip sinker. Colors favored by river experts are tequila shad, red shad and crawfish.
Joe says that the waters above the “pop-off canal” dam, which shuttles water to the Palm River in time of flood, are good for top-water plugs early and late in the day.
Brown is also a catfish angler, and notes that there are plenty of spots where big channel catfish gather in the river.
“Every major bend has a deep hole along the outside bank,” he notes. “Most of these holes have big catfish in the bottom.”
In fact, some of the holes marked nearly 30 feet deep on Ted Sawyers LCD depth finder, and suspended dots showed there were plenty of cats waiting in the depths.
Brown said that cut shiners were the best bait for cats. He said the fish usually feed right on the bottom, so the bait should be weighted with plenty of lead to make it hit and stay put.

He said speckled perch or crappie have been biting well in the river for several months, and should stay active through March.
Some of the best spots, he noted, are the hole just below the Fletcher Avenue Bridge, and the island near the upstream end of Lettuce Lake. He said Missouri minnows about two inches long are the best bait in either location.
The river offers good fishing year around, but water levels drop in late winter and early spring.
This means possible problems for boatmen new to the river, according to Brown, because there are many unmarked rocks and stumps, particularly near the Fowler ramp.
Guide Ted Sawyer suggests using only shallow-draft aluminum boats during the low water period, and proceeding slowly until you learn the water.
Joe has one request, however you fish the river: take a trash bag with you.
‘FISH JOCKEYS’ HAVE RADIO LISTENERS HOOKED
Frank Sargeant
Tribune Outdoors Editor


They call themselves the Mutt and Jeff of Saturday morning fishing shows.
On the air they are argumentative, querulous and cantankerous by their own admission, but Jim Lee and Joe Brown of WFNS, 910 AM’s “GETAWAYS” radio program get along just fine when they hop into a boat and head out for some redfish and snook action, as they did a few weeks ago with captain Tod Romine of Bradenton.
Lee is an insurance man at his “real” job, while Brown runs Tampa’s only 24-hour bait shop. Both say the Saturday morning radio gig is more for fun than profit, but the 25 weeks since they started they’ve managed to collect enough sponsors to break even and enough listeners to put them in the ratings book.
“It ruins your Friday’s nights because you have to get up at 3:30 on Saturday morning to be on the air by 6,” Lee said. “And we usually like to get together at least once during the week to go over the next show and plan the sound effects.”
The program not only covers hunting and fishing, but also family adventures like locating shark’s teeth on the beaches near Venice and going on-site at Gatorland at feeding time.
” We enjoy a lot of foolishness on the air,” Brown said. ” We want to provide information, but more than that we want to entertain. It’s humbling to know you’re just a push of the button away from disappearing from your listeners.”
For a part of the trip on Sarasota Bay, the fish were somewhat humbling, too, with the temperature around 95 degrees and baits scarce, Tod Romine had to delve into his bag of tricks to turn the fish on. But after a few dry holes, he managed.
” The big problem with fishing this summer has been the bait scarcity in this area due to the red tide,” Romine. ” There’s lots of little stuff on the inside that are good for chum, but the larger sardines we want as bait are very hard to find.”
Fortunately, Romine had a “sardine mine” in a 15-foot deep hole in the grass flats where he managed to collect several dozen 4-inch baits with five or six throws of the 10 foot net. He then visited a spot near the mouth of the Manatee River where one toss of of a small-mesh net captured all the chum-sized sardines he could lift aboard.
” I like small sardines for chum because they turn the fish on but don’t fill them up,” Romine said. ” Once you get them popping on top, put out a bigger bait and you’re hooked up in a hurry.”
Lee caught the first fish, a snook of about 23 inches. He pulled it aboard and was still posing for photos when Brown nailed one of about the same size.
” That fish is just like mine, only an inch shorter,” Lee told him.
” Yeah , but it’s an ounce heavier,” Brown said.
” Mine has a higher IQ,” Lee said.
” He wouldn’t have hit if I hadn’t put it in there just right.
” Mine is better looking,” Brown said.
” Yours has a crooked nose.”
And so it went. We managed 15 snook total, all but a couple smaller than the legal 24-inch minimum, and a dozen redfish, six of them in the legal spot, six over the 27-inch maximum. In between was a mix of lady fish, jacks and undersized trout — a busy day considering the sweltering heat.
Romine fishes a mix of yellow holes on high or rising water, deep cuts and island points on the drop.
For more on fishing the Sarasota Bay area, Romine can be reached at (941) 747-3866. For more on Jim and Joe, their shows runs from 6 to 9 a.m. Saturdays.
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