We had the good fortune of connecting with Ronny Bailey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ronny, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
As a child I was always drawing and sketching things. My mother was my biggest fan-hanging my art out on the front porch. I was even featured in the newspaper back then. When I was a young man I worked construction, roofing was my first trade taught to me by my father. I learned carpentry skills next. I soon developed a love of old Key West architecture which turned into a passion for the preservation of Key West and historical buildings and places. My art came full circle around as I began making my little houses and stores-replicas of actual locations using salvaged wood and metal from the old houses as they were being renovated. I use a lot of my childhood memories of island life. All the pieces are made only once, Everything is handcrafted and painted by me-from the light bulbs to the chickens. I spare no detail-it looks as if you can step back in time right on the porch. I was in a gallery for 2 years but then transitioned to doing the street art fairs. I look forward to meeting people and to sharing my life stories as they are caught up in my artwork. My art invokes memories and joy. I think it is a=n honor to be able to put a smile on peoples faces. I even had a collector tell me once that he thinks my art is hilarious. If you were to have told me 25 years ago I would be an artist, I would have laughed. But I love what I do and would not change a thing!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Doing street fairs is a lot of work but a lot of fun as well. When I started my artwork I asked for direction from God; is this the right path for me? When I look back over the years I know beyond a shadow of a doubt this is my gift, my calling. I love to share it, to be able to put a smile on some ones face when they look at my art-knowing they are thinking back reliving memories. Life can be too serious-I enjoy seeing a smile on people’s faces. After all I hear my art is hilarious!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Let’s start with a great dinner at Maison De Pepes on Mallory Square-great Cuban food, live music to dance to at night, and Mario Sanchez like artwork in the building as well. The next morning a trip to 5 Brothers Coffee shop-a locals hang out in the morning and where I have been known to show my latest art to my friends. We can make a day out of all the great museums and taking a tour of the town. We cannot forget the Hemingway Home Museum on Whitehead St.
which houses my Hemingway House on Stilts (a replica of the Northwest Passage lighthouse). No visit to the area would be complete without getting on the water. Whether it is a trip to Fort Zachary, Bahia Honda Park or a fishing charter with my brother-Capt Jimmy, you can always find a way to enjoy the beauty!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout goes to my home town-Key West and its art community. Growing up here we were poor but did not know it, We had everything we needed.
Everyone looked out for one another. There have been such greats as Mario Sanchez and Martha DePoo emerge from the island community. The Key West Art Center sponsors 2 great street festivals each year-which i did 10 years straight.
The Key West Historical Society has supported my career by allowing me to be in a solo show and participate in several other collective exhibits in the Key West Customs house. I am a 5th generation conch and that has created my passion for what I do today.
Facebook: RbaiLey key west art
Other: https://fineartamerica.com/art/ronny+bailey We sell prints and things of Ronny’s artwork thru this site