The "Yo Audrie" Edition featuring guest Audrie Rañon

Story and Photography by Leslie Joy Ickowitz

So, there’s a free app called, “YO.” It’s designed to send people a quick, verbal “YO” anytime you are thinking of them. #brilliant Anyway, Audrie Rañon of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is the last person I would expect to turn me on to such a thing but she did and now she’s my first (and only) friend on YO. 

I first heard about Audrie from friends and fellow artists, George Medeiros and Scott Durfee of Spathose.  They always spoke so highly of this woman who, it turns out, is Director of Guest Relations, Retail Operations and Internal Events for the world-class museum on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg.

“I cover a lot of ground,” Audrie says of her dynamic, artful existence.

It wasn’t until I was invited to participate in an event at the museum that I crossed paths with Audrie for the first time. We instantly clicked and I have Aylen Suarez to thank for introducing us. 

On the day of our lunch date, I picked Audrie up at the museum store, where I was delivering two Leslie Joy Original images on canvas that I’m honored to say are now available for sale there.

After lunch, Audrie invited me to stick around and experience the current MFA exhibit, “My Generation: Young Chinese Artists.” I highly recommend it (on display through September 28, 2014). Audrie is pleased to point out the exhibit is shared with the Tampa Museum of Art, appreciating that this type of collaboration doesn’t happen every day in the museum world. 

We skipped across the street for a bite to eat. She ordered a delightful salad and I had a veggie flatbread but the mutual objects of affection at our table were the roasted grapes.

Audrie fancies herself a cook and learned what she knows at the knee of her Lebanese grandma.

“I like to use a lot of fresh ingredients. Quinoa, chickpeas.”

But she doesn’t bake because she realizes her methodology doesn’t work, saying, “I use recipes for inspiration.”  

She and her husband of 32 years have two grown boys and live on Franklin Street in downtown Tampa. #cool

“We’re very much urbanites.” 


Anyone who knows me knows I love birds so I practically squawked out loud upon learning that Audrie has a Yellow Naped Amazon parrot! His name is Hawkeye (after a character in Last of the Mohicans). Yellow naped are good talkers but Audrie insists Hawkeye uses no bad words.

“Bad grammar but not bad words,” she says. “’Where ya at,’ he’ll say.’”

Hawkeye loves to watch soccer and mimics crowd sounds—cheering and whistling. We agreed he would appreciate the roasted grapes too. 

“I always thought I liked traditional art until I met contemporary art,” Audrie says with a sparkle in her eye between bites.

Her heart’s always in the right place then. Surrounded by art. She’s had a hand all over the local art world at such cultural institutions as the Tampa Bay History Center, the Henry B. Plant MuseumFlorida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA) and Tampa Museum of Art.

“I dabble in the antique world,” Audrie says of her free time and runs an online store (My Favorite Vintage at Rubylane.com) with mostly vintage art and pottery. Someone, eh hem, was lurking about on the site and found a pair of skyscraper-shaped art deco dress clips and a wonderful abstract fabric collage among the offerings listed there. 

“I love that aha moment when I find something really cool and then start learning the story behind it.”


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