Jeffrey Sward is an independent photographer. Jeffrey Sward has no association with any Ron Lee organization, past or present. Jeffrey Sward has no knowledge of resale value of existing Ron Lee statues. Jeffrey Sward has no knowledge of how to repair Ron Lee statues. Jeffrey Sward has no knowledge of resources for buying or selling Ron Lee statues. Jeffrey Sward has no knowledge of Ron Lee statue collectors. Questions about Ron Lee statues, repair, or casting should be directed to the Ron Lee extant organizations at Ron Lee Sculptures at ronlee.com and Ron Lee Casting at ronleecasting.com.
The following is a photographic documentary of the Ron Less Clown Factory when it existed in 2006 in Henderson Nevada.
Ron Lee is the creator of
a series of soft-metal hand-painted
statues. Most of the
statues have a clown theme. Ron
created the "Hobo Joe" clown
persona which appears in
many of the clown statues. A
contractual arrangement has
been made with Warner brothers
to allow Ron to create Warner
Brothers cartoon character
statues, such as Daffy Duck
and the Road Runner.
first set up operations in
Burbank, California. The
operation was moved to Chatsworth,
California and subsequently
to Simi Valley California. In
1994 the operation was moved
again to a spectacular facility in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb
of Las Vegas. Each
move was to a location with
less population density and
lower costs. This pattern
and misanthropic behavior.
Inexplicably, around 2008, the operation moved back to the original location in Burbank, California. In keeping with the reclusive
and misanthropic themes, access is by appointment only, and the exact location is not revealed. Refer to links on the bottom of this article.
The Ron Lee World of Clowns
Henderson Nevada facility
on Carousel Parkway was a
masterpiece of industrial
design, obviously custom
constructed for the Ron Lee
operation. The building
is set back far from main
road, between very large
undeveloped parcels. The
result of the location selection
was palpable isolation, consistent
with the recluse theme.
portions of Ron Lee's
World of Clowns Henderson
Nevada facility all had
a plate glass wall adjacent
to a hallway which allows
the public access to a self-guided
factory tour. In addition
to the factory, the Ron Lee
Henderson facility included
a large gift shop, display
cases for statues, a cafeteria,
administrative offices, and
a carousel. The carousel
was roped off and apparently
is never operated.
Since the Henderson Nevada facility has been abandoned, the self-guided
factory tour is no longer available. At one time there was a gift shop address
on Commercial Way. The factory
on Carousel Parkway off West Warm Springs
Road may or may not be in operation, but it is closed
to the public. It would be likely that
the entire large parcel bordered by
West Warm Springs Road, North Gibson
Road, Kelso Dunes Avenue, and Marks
Street was or is owned by Ron Lee. The only
building on this large parcel was
the Ron Lee factory, striking in a
highly developed area.
World of Clowns is a study
in contradictions. A
factory built from the ground
up to facilitate public tours,
designed by a misanthrope,
no longer accessible to the
public. A carousel
which is never used. A
series of corporate relocations
to more and more isolated
areas. A child-oriented
clown-themed product sold
as adult collectibles. A
retail product dependent
on public distribution made
by a recluse.
In a concerted effort at obfuscation, the Ron Lee business split into separate statuary and casting companies. The successor organizations of Ron Lee's World of Clowns
and the Ron Lee Art Studio are now located in Burbank, California. Up until the end of his life "Ron is there daily to visit with his collectors," but by appointment only. The exact address is not revealed to anyone who does not know the secret handshake.
Ron made the original art work and molds. He hired people to cast and paint the statues. His extant casting company will do on-specification casting. Ron Lee Casting company.
Speculation about Human Motivation
"You can observe a lot by watching." – famous philosopher Yogi Berra.
Nothing in particular happened while visiting Ron Lee's World of Clowns in Henderson Nevada. The observations in this post were made over a period of a few years, mostly based upon the "where there is smoke there is fire" principle. Factory production of hand-crafted quality trinkets is commonplace, witness Lladró, Hummel, and Precious Moments (also has factory tour). The Ron Lee Henderson factory was one of the finest of its kind. I observed in Ron in action but never spoke with him directly.
Ron Lee had a fan club which consisted of annual dues for which the subscribers would receive one promotional statue per year plus a periodic newsletter. I was a member of this club for a few years and still have the promotional statues. Some of the statues arrived damaged due to indifferent packaging from underpaid, underappreciated, and overworked employees. The newsletter offered indirect information.
Among entrepreneurs California-Business-Bashing is a common sport. "Real estate too expensive," "wages too high," "workers are lazy," "cost of living too high," "material too expensive," etc. I have listened to many diatribes along the lines of "everything is so much better after I moved my business from California to (select one or more) Nevada-Texas-Mexico-China-Vietnam-Bangladesh-etc."
Ron was probably very happy with cost savings from the successive moves from Burbank to Chatsworth to Simi Valley to Henderson, each of which had a successively lower cost of doing business. In addition to low cost, the Ron-Lee-created Henderson facility was spectacular in design and manufacturing efficiency, likely the very pinnacle of all Ron's dreams and aspirations. As noted by Hamlet "ay, there's the rub." With perfection achieved, the only thing left to do was administer perfection in perpetuity.
Many people seek goal after goal, hoping something will make them happy. Instead, it can develop into a cycle of searching for external things to fulfill and complete us. Often reaching these heights does not deliver happiness, but instead delivers emptiness and depression, the "arrival fallacy." The journey is the motivation, not the destination.