It can be a challenge at times, when you are living on an island three hours from the mainland, to get access to all the “things” you may want to buy, especially if you are furnishing and decorating a new home. What we sacrifice with box store amenities we make up for with our vast array of talented local artists. Gallivanting among the local galleries, one could easily fill an entire home with spectacular and unique pieces; a large part of what makes a house a home is the treasures we store inside.
Thus, I thought it appropriate to feature one of my favorite local artists: Alicia Earle Renner. Alicia uses a multitude of artistic mediums, but she is best known for her amazing photography. It is no surprise that Alicia has such a true gift as it is clearly in her genes. Ms. Alicia Earle Renner has quite a famous uncle who was also in the art biz. According to the Wikipedia page Alicia’s uncle Eyvind Earle (April 26, 1916 – July 20, 2000) was an American artist, author and illustrator, noted for his contribution to the background illustration and styling of Disney animated films in the 1950s. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rahr West Art Museum, Phoenix Art Museum and Arizona State University Art Museum have purchased Earle’s works for their permanent collections. His works have also been shown in many one-man exhibitions throughout the world.
Art seems to be coursing through her veins; Alicia says that she does not remember a time in her life when she was not making art of some form. Her greatest artistic influences, however, were her mother and father. Her mother was a college art teacher. Alicia has fond memories as a child of sitting with her mom while she was teaching and Alicia enjoyed her afterschool milk and cookies while she also got to participate in the art teachings of the day. Alicia’s photographer father was an equally influential figure in her artistic leanings. According to Alicia, once she got her hands on her dad’s camera, she was hooked! When Alicia was about ten or eleven, her dad finally got tired of constantly having to track down his camera equipment that Alicia had nabbed, so for Christmas that year her parents loaded her up with her own equipment. It was then that her entrepreneurial and artist sides began to bloom. She began photographing her school friends and then selling the pictures back to them; and with that the business of the artist Alicia Earle Renner began. Although she has and still does create many fabulous methods of art – it is photography that is her true passion. She says that she enjoys all forms of art but “she loves that she can create instant art with her camera”.
When you enter Alicia’s art gallery on Lazy Way off of Elizabeth St. in Key West it is just stunning to see her amazing work – really “stunning” is an understatement in my opinion. She has a vast array of photography work with an emphasis on wildlife. When queried what her favorite venue was for her photography, she said without a doubt it was her underwater work. If she was told she could do only one form of art and photography it would be in the water where you would find her. Her underwater photos are just spectacular as you can see by just a few examples here (you really must check out her shop and gallery at 205 Elizabeth St. at the Key West Bight area or look on her website at www.AERphotography.com) .
Over the years she has had the opportunity to work side by side with world renowned photographers and to travel to many exotic places around the world. Alicia has been endorsed by Linda Meyerriecks, Editor Emeritus of National Geographic Traveler and was also given the honor of attending and graduating from the Master Light Program for Advanced Photographers; a course offered to a select few by the famous wildlife photographer Moose Peterson.
Through her work she has been able to swim with and photograph simply amazing creatures. When I asked her favorite underwater experiences, the list was long and the passion she feels for the beauty she experiences was evident by the light in her eyes. She said she really loves swimming with sea mammals. She has spent numerous occasions with manatees and has had the opportunity to swim with baby humpback whales and sea lions to name just a few. She has also swum with and photographed just about every kind of shark you can imagine including Great White Sharks. When I asked her if she has ever felt scared or threatened she answered “no”, without hesitation. This is a woman that is not only an incredibly talented artist, but a true adventurer. I am delighted that I get to see the wilderness and sea life through her eyes and experience such beauty. If you have a blank spot on your wall, a piece of her art might be the perfect compliment to your décor!