An imaginative decendant of " Old Florida", artist/poet RhondaK was reared on farmland
in Plant City that her dad ploughed with an ill -tempered horse. With Florida roots reaching
back several generations, her great grandpa was known as Mullet Man and sold smoked
fish door-to-door in Tampa.
She grew up doodling horses on everything, even the weekly bulletin of the Baptist church
that she was raised in. After being told she had no color sense, Rhonda spurrned art lessons,
preferring a non conformist appoach to match her outook on life. During the late 1990's, the
amiable rebel refined her talents and ran events like "Poetry in the Dark' in Tampa while
freelancing for the Tampa Bay Times, Weekly Planet and penning underground classics
like Holy Roadtrip.
Following a serious auto accident, Rhonda walked barefooted out of ER with a song on her
lips and courage in her heart. She then went sleepless for 3 days, determined to solve the
world's problems and was inspired to paint 30 roosters, no two alike. End result: The
childhood hurt of being told she had "no color sense" was forever dispelled.
Quitting her day job, Rhonda went to live on a boat with fellow artist Alan "TikiMan" Keller
and her funky doodles of mermaids, fish and more found an audience. This led to whimsically-
painted signs using found wood sold in the parking lot of Star Fish Restaurant, in the sleepy
fishing village of Cortez.
Relying on a rich imagination for her art and a quirky, irreverent wit for her writing, Rhonda's
clever creations are now sold on both coasts of Florida and as far away as Michigan and
New Jersey. The quintessential non-conformist draws from a rich and colorful past: fishing
with Dad, various abodes along the west coat and a fondness for Florida beach bars.
These experiences spawned numerous off-beat aphorisms like " Life is Fishing, not
Catching" and " Walk a Mile in my Flip Flops and Bring me Back a Beer". Whimsical wisdom
and vibrant art that's not extracted from a book but from her soul and the Florida she loves.
Rhonda works as a librarian at a Florida college helping people work toward their
dreams when not at her current location in Nokomis. Called the Red Hibiscus Art Farm, it
consists of several herb/vegetable garden patches, wild flowers, an outside work shed
beneath some palm trees, two inside galleries, 6 bunnies and one a wonderful dog,
(a pug) all of which end up in her paintings from time to time.
Written by Ron Wilson
Publisher of Florida Secrets, the Insider's Guide. 2013
“You know, I’m always scared to ask if a woman’s pregnant. Once I
asked a woman when she was due and she let me know right quick that her
lifelong problem with weight was none of my business.” He slipped me
I slipped him my last smile before I fainted there on his cold, loving floor.
The Faint of Heart
“Girl, you gave me a scare,” the 7-11 clerk said. He was old. He should
have been retired, but what passes for industry out here didn’t usually
have a pension.
“Let me talk to her Frank,” an elephantine
woman shuffled into view . She had long graying hair braided into 4
braids, two of which fed into the parallel rivers down her back.
“Do you feel anything? Pain? Pressure?” she wiped my face with a cold cloth while holding up my woozy back.
“Embarrassed.” I was glad I didn’t pee my pants when I went down.
“OK, doll baby, let’s get you up,” and she had me up before I could
protest. I wasn’t sure if I shouldn’t have stayed still longer, but I
knew I didn’t want to risk an ambulance coming.
“Should I call someone for you – an ambulance, a doctor?”
“No, I’m fine. Just fine. Just needed some water,” I was backing
towards the door, regretting I had to leave the air. The cold false
world of refrigeration and Icees.
I’d never fainted before.
Never relied on the kindness of strangers and the sort of sick I felt
was closer to my heart. A fear of reliance on others. It was a nausea.
A soul nausea of realizing how helpless and clumsy I was. How the
outside saw me as this pitiful, baby carrying creature. Frail. I
couldn’t believe this was who I was in my heart. I couldn’t.
“Look, baby, let me give you a ride. It looks like you walked up here.”
“I did, but – I’m OK.” I had just walked 82 miles and had slept on the
Flagler Beach Pier pretending to be with a fishing family.
I’m not paying one bit of attention to you, sweetheart. You’re not in
your right mind. My name is Louise, people call me Weezie. OK? I’m
everyone’s Aunt around here. I’ve never seen you before.”
new.” I said feeling a sort of old. I’d never been away from home
before but for church trips to parks and once to Orlando. The sun
outside was in its unrelenting zenith where you’d think you could tune
it in on a radio to hear it frying.
Weezie’s car was old
person hot with old person smell. The cracked seats scratched the back
of my legs and I couldn’t figure out how she thought she was helping me.
Further, how could I tell her to drop me off in what still accounted
for virtually no where? Just a straight A1A by a groaning, writhing sea.
“OK, girl, spill it.”
“Look, you’re sunburned. You’re in good clothes, but they need to be
washed. You’re tired. You’re not meeting anyone’s eye even when you’re
obviously in dire need of help.”
I didn’t feel Weezie. That is,
I didn’t feel her bulk, her old beat-up car, the sound of her voice –
none of this made me want to drop the truth like change in a buskers
hat. I don’t think fat people kind. They’re just people. Nor are t hey
any more lazy. It was the sense of her. The way she seemed to take me
over more like a kidnapping than an angel. The way she snapped my
seatbelt closed and locked my door. I could have run, but I feared the
police might be called to help the poor, out of her mind pregnant girl.
“You’re right. There’s a story, but I don’t want to talk about it.”
She drew on a cigarette, blew the smoke into my face and smiled.
“Tough are you?”
She pulled out of the parking lot back on to A1A heading North. My heart’s way.
“So, what happened? Who knocked you up or do you know? You girls these days have no idea how much all of that is worth.”
I thought she meant my virginity, but it ends up she’s telling me how
women these days are making money not precisely selling their babies as
much as fraud.
“Babies– now that’s easy money. Pretty thing like you could start a bidding war between two couples and…”
“Ms. Louise…Weezie, I’m not interested in money.”
“You’re one dumb slut – you know that?” She says it lazy like she might
remark on the color of the sunrise or a lost shoe hanging on a
The fishermen didn’t even notice me. They likely thought me
someone’s way too young wife.The rush
of air on my face on the bridge was irresistible and I had to look down at the
white caps where two forces clashed slightly, daily forever and ever. Tide to
tide.If I fell in, I wouldn’t be swept
or sucked away to anywhere. I longed for that anywhere.
The wind under their gulls’ wings ruffled with something I
wish I felt in my heart.Flight is a
power.To drop and stay from stream to
stream as things change, fall and stop. To fly knowing this, an act of defiant
“Catch anything?” I couldn’t resist the time honored
question.He was rough, maybe in his 40s
but looked dependable.Flannel shirt
undone so it hit my stomach as I walked by.
“Lordie, no.This day
the dagburned things aren’t biting.Well, I should say, they aren’t biting my hook.Hoover over there, he already got himself a
mess of fish.”
His empty bucket slid a bit in the wind and he put his foot
in it. “I’m about to give up.”
“Any chance, “ I say dreading the risk, “you’re headed
He appraised me on several levels. As a woman. As a girl. As
trouble. As a pregnant woman. A young girl. And trouble again.
“I wouldn’t be…” the wind picks up, “..trouble.”
He takes in the sky. The promise of rain. The fact no one is
looking at us. The fact no fish are biting. That this is a day of troubles but
perhaps acts of grace. And my hair is flying around my angelic, sunburned
face.Getting caught against the rough
skin of my lips.I know that I looked
like I was going to cry.
Fourteen year old Michelle's most intimate secret is about to be revealed. Instead of waiting for that moment, she decides to take the hero's journey up A1A trying to find the words for her falling apart world. Working her way north on Florida's A1A, she meets saviors, criminals, kidnappers, treasure hunters, hippies, fishermen, ghosts and ultimately a solution to a question of love and her place in history.
From sand dune to fort to tourists to tides, Michelle walks her walk and rewrites her place in Florida's history.
ry Crews whiskey shot in the back corner of a bar now resting under the soul erasing wall of Cinnamon Beach.
This short fiction is a bit of young girl Hiassen, Sebold's Lovely Bones, Hoffman's Blue Diary with a touch of a Harry Crews throwing back a shot of whiskey in a bar that doesn't exist any more.
IN TOMORROW For my interview on a COLOR FULL PROGRAM: 9-10 a.m.,
Wednesday, June 12, on WSLR 96.5 FM -- I will be exuberant!! Yes I
Tomorrow's ARTS TALK will investigate three radically
different perspectives on the visual arts from 9-10 a.m., Wednesday,
June 12, on WSLR 96.5 FM. Rhonda K (the celebrated native Florida Folk
artist who's changed the visual landscape of Anna Maria Island,
Cortez and environs) will share the inspiration for her exuberant
images. Matthew McLendon (the curator of modern and contemporary art at
The Ringling) will take us on a guided tour of the mind through "Witness
to War," "American Moderns," and other world-class exhibitions opening
this month. Nancy Hall (a Sarasota-based visual artist who works on
canvas and fabric) will let us in on her new gallery and its visions of
tropical paradise. Tune in tomorrow for all the colors your radio can
And That's when I stopped drinking tequila.....( signs as conversation starter...)
A dr. I met at Billy Bob's had me paint: Dr. Stevens...professional troublemaker.
Life and knowledge aren't linear...go out and spin some donuts. ( written during eLearning seminar after "online course most failed- statistics" - " 'Chunking'" AKA 6 items to a bullet ( which isn't strictly correct.)
Captain Mark orders a red sign.,. "I'd rather be drinking beer and fishing thinking about God than sitting in church thinking about drinking beer and fishing,?"
We're all prawns in the game of life.
I wasn't born in Xxxxx but I got here as fast as I could.
If you aren't barefoot you're overdressed. / green
It's wine:30 / pink
BYOB paradise ain't cheap
July 12, 2008
SKOB employee wall of shame
Fish sign for couple
painting go ANI -burdette's dog
Dift inn ...I love the nights
RK-it's all mind over matter...if you've lost your mind, it doesn't matter.
RK- we share such beautiful things in this life..let's dance and sing songs never sung.
Step off the edge..fall into life.
Write crazy pineapple things
RhondaK writes ( further )
A boat's history is a sequence of celebrative degradations. Of polish and splendor. Of splendor to surrender.
Look out across the bay seeing jet skis whine like leaf blowers at 6am boiling seagrass beds into lifeless strips.
Spoon bills -- life is short spoon more.
Fiddler crabs --fiddle around!
We are all prawns in the game of life.
Beer kills weak brain cells. That's why the more you drink the smarter you get.
Don't gaze me bro. Andrew Meyer, 2007. University of Florida.
Gave up drinking ( worse 15 minutes of my life.)
Another word for luck is persistence.
Laugh at your problems - everyone else does.
Beach bar - where the shunned shine.
If it isn't a barstool, I' m not sitting on it.
Seen it all. Done it all, can't remember most of it,
Today is the yesterday you'll be embarrassed about tomorrow.
The tide always changes.
Life is too short to stay sober.
You show me yours, I'll show you the door- potential RKism
There is no I in team, but there is in WIN. - michael Jordan
Have you had all your shots today?
Who put the stop payment on my reality check?
Starve feeds, feed dreams.
Work is for people who can't hold their liquor. Dog: licker
Time is never wasted when you are wasted all the time.
Eat right. Exercise. Die anyway.
The booze hound is off the chain.
The Whip and Sip lounge- you've been bad and it's all good?
In case of emergency--place butt on barstool.
Work. Curse of the drinking class. Oscar Wilde
Leave room in your garden so your angels can dance.
Life is fast. Slam on your beer brakes.
I always give into beer pressure.
Please find my phone so I can call my cigarettes.
There will come a day your children will figure out YOU are the people you warned them about.
4 scores and 7 beers ago....I wasn't this happy.--RK ism
Why go to Margaritaville when you've got all the paradise you can drink right here?- RK ism
My give a damn broke and I'm not going to fix it.
This bar is R rated; strong language, brief nudity, adult situations
I used up all my sick days so I called in retired.
Beer is cheaper than gas...so don't drive-drink!
The road to ruin is a hellluva drive. RK ism
Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
Getting ready fot the Cortez Fish Fest
Which I don't do:
Leave signs at Star Fish to find me at Sea Hagg
Build modest, but high end inventory for CFF
Finish Rich's signs
Paint Jeep doors
To do list:
1) update etsy to 10 products--tiki signs 3, mermaids 1
2) do written inventory
3) ask Florida Secrets to mail newsletter 2 some addresses
4) retread self promo
5) identify big events. Starve to do one.
6) ask people what I could do better
7) how can I use $100 a month to promote myself
8) identify classic sayings and add to show
9) sign up for Van Wezel first Fridays. Get app. Don't faint and cry like a girl.
10) how to minimize costs. Should I leave Siesta Key? No...should enjoy key.
11) what works: Star Fish Company, Gulfport, Billy Bob's, Restless Native, Etsy, Thieves Market
I put together this slideshow of just one week of that struggle.
It's been viewed 1700 times. I wonder if people really read it or if they just look at the pictures of Shell Beach on Siesta Key.
In it I lose a lot of things...a friend, money and work. But in that week, I create my first of what will be dozens of Star Fish Company signs. This explains the perspective it came from.
Sometimes in your worst week is an idea that helps you find your way.
I question my ability to sell something people at that point didn't expect of me--but I did-fast. I still incorporate the affordable pieces with the large because these little things helped get me through big heartbreak.
So, I know these little pieces find their way into other people's stories. I just always hope it's better than this one week in 2008 was for me.
I have kept a lot of notebooks of my work from 2005 and my life for decades. This Summer I'm beginning a digitization project of the notebooks. Some are the genesis of ideas I had, others what people asked me to do, some quotes I liked...all thoughts that built what I do now.
Things I'm painting : random and classic.
Warning:barstools in the splash zone.-me
Don't take me bro.
Idle worship in process.
All of us get lost in the darkness. Dreamers follow the stars. -- a version of Rush lyrics
Like a fine wine, I'm best when drunk.
4 scores and 7 beers ago, I wasn't this happy. - me
This Bud's for you--the rest are all mine.
One day your children will figure out you're the people you warned them
No shirt, shoes ... Problems
I gave up smoking and drinking. Worse 15 minutes of my life.
My compass does not point North. -- Alan Tikiman Keller 2006
The soul would have no rainbows if the eyes had no tears. --native American
Some call it a six pack...I call it a support group.
I have not yet begun to procrastinate.
Unruly kids will be sold to pirates.
Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right.
All I ever needed to know I learned from fishing...
You have to bait your own hook..
You have to drop your line in the water
You can't catch anything just talking about it.
It always seems to be a lot of trouble til you catch your first fish.
A smile is a gently curved line that sets a lot of things straight.
Send Sam Densler and his wive a Spirit of the Star Fish sign. ( live aboard couple who offered to tow tiki mama to east coast through the Okeechobee lock system. I declined knowing how likely that was to destroy his resources. I was scared Charlie or someone would kill me, but felt I should stay and deal with my own fate.)
Painted a yorkie for Hope Wainwright.
Beanie: the Heartbeat at my feet. --Edith Wharton saying.
She and Hemmingway both had dogs that slept on their feet while they wrote.
I'm slowing down my shows and other work to focus on large show and commercial pieces. That's a big act of faith really, but with my knee injury, it is clear I'm at the end of doing things the same way longing for a different result. In fact, I have a huge learning curve that may well take me the rest of my life.
I can be scared of that or paint harder.
I'm going with paint brushes UP!!
These are the starter pieces for my planned gallery show in Feb. 2014. As you'll note, they have a lot to do with places and themes that mean something to me.
So even if this move fails me, it is me. And that's OK. My work always finds its people and place.
though it is something he never told me...not believed himself. However, he showed me on many, many a Saturday around some pit, lake, river or bay. This is one of my many, many paintings of the saying. I'm working on a 5' one right now. For me : HUGE.
I paid a $1 for this boat and lived on it for a while anchored in Sarasota Bay. I consider it my greatest painted funny and inspirational sign. One day I hope to sit down and write the truest story of that time in my life. As soon as I can get past "it was the best of times.. It was the worst of times. "
I will tell you this, there's a freedom to owning 2 pairs of shoes, eating stone crab claws and drinking beer for breakfast and nothing on the agenda but puttering around in the dinghy with the pugs.
Everyone should fall off the grid a few times in their life just to feel how time becomes more like a jump rope than a whip.
I tell you what, I had a HELL of a good time in Texas. I've never been, so going to San Antonio was 4 days of pure delight. It's not wonder many of my dearest friends and most passionate loves came from this beer making sweet talking state.
In case you are like me and are a Newbie to San Antonio, let me share some tips:
1) Find a Taco Haven for breakfast. Walk there. Don't ask for anything more on the table than they give you. Yes, the tomatillo sauce is amazing.
2) DO NOT DRINK Margaritas on the Riverwalk. I know. But there are two good reasons for this. Most places do truly short pour. And a short pour or shabby mix on a $14 drink is just wrong.
Go to Worm or Dick's Last Resort for real drinks. Better, go off Riverwalk to any number of places in South Town. Secondly, should you manage to drink enough margaritas to get tipsy you'll find the stairs and the lack of a safety rail by the River may cause you an indelicate, though frankly hilarious incident. 3) Go to South Town to eat/drink and shop. I found a great art store there where the owner had just come back from a buying trip in Mexico. She suggested a place to get margaritas...and 4 bars later I had more friends and phone numbers than I had the last year in my small Florida town. Texas is awesome fun like that.
So fun, I 'm going there for my Summer vacation to see if this Florida Native can take the heat. I'll tell you this, I can take hanging out and listening to people who know how to weave a story and throw our their heart with open arms.
I also met Julian Castro. Which, is a post in and of it self. I LOVE Texas.
Recommended Hotel - River Vista
What I LOVED about San Antonio
WHY you should go to San Antonio Riverwalk and NOT Downtown Disney ( on either coast )