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Tiki Bar – Original Hong Kong Wilie Art – Key West
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Dorado The Dolphin – Original Hong Kong Wilie Art – Key West
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Smugglers Cove – Original Preservation Art – Hong Kong Willie Key West Art
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Indian Dreams – Hong Kong Willie – Original Art
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Green Artist Hong Kong Willie Art for Sale. A Artist meant for this time, life lived green.
Chris Futrell, Florida Focus
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 Hong
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
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
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
“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
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
“Hong Kong Willie truly believes that a piece, whether it’s a bag or a painted artwork, it’s meant for one person.
Hong Kong Willie USF INTERVIEW
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