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When God places a passion in your heart for something better in life, it not always starts with you. Artist Kenny Ruiz mother Mary Maldonado felt this way, and wanted the best for her children. She feared the worst living in Chicago and was concerned that they would be led into the wrong path in life.   After finding out that Kenny joined a gang in Chicago  at age 12, she decided that it was at the best interest for her and her five children to move to Florida.  Kenny stated, “With my parents divorce when we were just becoming teens It was rough on us kids. So, that’s when we were spending time on the streets.”  Soon after, Kenny along with his siblings where shipped to Florida to live with their Aunt Mini until 3 months later their mother could join them.  A year later Kenny’s mother Mary purchased a house, and was happy to have a fresh start and opportunities for her children to flourish. After finishing High School Kenny moved back to Chicago, but later return to Florida after being shot at.

At a young age, Kenny was drawn to art, but never pictured himself being an artist. It wasn’t until in the last couple of years that he put together his first portrait called, “First Impression”.   Soon friends where asking where did he buy that portrait?  His simply reply was, “I made that”.    Kenny’s friends were all amazed and started asking him if he could make one for them.  It wasn’t until five years  later when his Mother Mary, had passed from battling lung cancer for 6 months that he went back to making one of a kind portraits. Kenny said, “When my Mother passed I fell into a great depression, and I realized that I needed to do something. I have a wife and kids to support. That’s when I started creating my portraits, and soon realized it was a form of therapy.”

Kenny knows in his heart that his mother made the right decision to move to Florida, and is grateful for having the opportunity to live 4 doors down from his mother’s house.  Kenny said, “I bought it there because I wanted to be close to her. She was my best friend. I would walk up the street for salt or something and be there for hours talking with her.”

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Q & A

Tell me a little about MagChop, and why it inspired you to start creating these unique masterpieces?

I was working for an art company and was very intrigued by what people hang on the walls to define who they are and what they like. I wanted something personal to hang in my home, something that defined who I am and I created the piece named “First Impression.” I hung it up in my house, and I often thought of making another one but did not start until my mother passed away. I found it therapeutic to spend time in what everyone knows as “Da Bear’s Room” listening to oldies music such as Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Santana etc. I enjoyed this music with my mom. That along with the good and bad in my life went into each piece. Mostly, what you’re looking at is me healing. 

How long did your mother battle lung cancer?

My mother battled cancer for 6 months, and a battle it was. She was the anchor of our family and as a family; we were by her side until her final breath.

How long have you been an artist? 

Funny hearing this question because I never thought of myself as a real artist. I did receive “Most Artistic” in High School and since my art was graffiti, I took the yearbook picture with a can of spray paint! So I guess the answer is since 8th grade when I started running the Chicago subways.  

What is your favorite piece of work that you have created?

To me my best is “First Impression” it is my favorite. It’s not the most popular but other artist seem to like it. I worked on it for four months.  

Are you currently working on any new piece (Ladies Touch)?

I am working on a piece called “Ladies Touch.” It is the first one I named before I started. I usually name them later, but this one is special, it is a representation and a tribute to the beauty I see in women. I am looking forward to finishing it. 

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I still have my comic collection from when I was a kid. I still buy the specialty releases and issues to add to or complete sets. 

If someone wanted to buy one of your pieces of artwork how would they?

You can purchase from www.MagChop.com is the address. I offer many deals throughout the year with promo codes and sales. 

What else should we know about you and your artwork? 

I didn’t make these pieces with the intention of ever reproducing or selling them. They are more than just a hobby, they are passion in picture, emotions and ideas, and a depiction of how I see things and I never thought anyone would like them because they are so personal. I was surprised to see how many people related to them and appreciated the way they were put together. They are my way of both celebrating and coping with life.

Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?

Do what you love and love what you do… Life is great, but it will get rough. So I will use the words my mom left for before she passed.

“Ride the storm,  feel the pain. Cry, then get up! Heal and live.”

Do you admire any artist/ Photographers?  

I feel like I admire everyone! When I go to car shows and even if I win the contest, I still notice the little tedious touches, and appreciate the attention to detail. I also follow several collage artists on Instagram and really admire the creativeness and fantasy worlds they create. I especially admire the artist who draw and paint. It to me is the hardest form. Robert and David  my brothers in Chicago who sing in a duo called Blu Line. I must admit I do admire one photographer I know personally, and she just happens to be my sister. Since I was a boy we used to always rely on her shot to capture the moment… Before there was “Kodak moments”, there was my sisters eye. My oldest sister Denise also does her own art, she has a small company in Chicago called Madre De Perla Designs, which also started as a way to heal from our losing mom.  I guess I am a little bias in that dept. 

How many siblings do you have? 

I have 5 sisters and 4 brothers. My oldest sister Tanya is a home school teacher for her children, my sister Denise owns Madre De Perla Designs in Chicago, my older brother Airto just graduated college …. my oldest of the younger siblings is Anita who is a dean at a high school and a photographer,  then there is my brothers Robert and David who sing in Blu.Line. next my sister Alyssa who is an M.A. and continues medical school. My brother Mario works for Charter schools of America while my sister Vanessa is a nurse in Chicago.  My youngest sister Katerina is just getting into high school. Although we are not all from one mom and dad I see them all as 100% siblings.

What are your goals for the future both work wise and life? 

I will always do everything to provide for my family, that is my priority. With faith and hard work I hope to work MagChop full time and be large enough to hire people and give back to the community and local economy. I want to leave a positive legacy and be known for helping people reach their goals.

 

By Susan Gulash

Email: susan@floridacreativeliving.com