CHICAGO (CBS) — He works as a security guard at night to pay the bills, but Jimmy Williams’ real passion is art, and he has one purpose right now: to bring more of it to Chicago’s embattled Englewood neighborhood.
Williams had his first real showing inside the Hamilton Park fieldhouse in Englewood for Chicago Artists Month in October, but art has been a part of his life for decades.
Asked what he loves about art, Williams had a one-word answer: direction.
Now he has a new one. He hopes to open a gallery and studio at a vacant storefront in the 6400 block of South Ashland Avenue.
It’s a daunting goal, but Williams said he’s determined to raise $335,000 to buy the vacant property, and bring art to Englewood.
“Because Englewood doesn’t have one; I want Englewood to be just like everybody else’s community. Everybody else is relaxed. We can relax, too, if everybody stop clowning,” he said.
Williams has experience to draw on. Born in Lawndale, he lived in Cabrini Green and Roseland before moving to Englewood a decade ago. Those in touch with Englewood’s latent art pulse are all for it.
“Jimmy – somebody who lives here in Englewood, an artist from here – opening something up for his community, and for his own artistic practice, feels like the perfect way to make arts and culture even more on the stage in Englewood, and valued by the community,” said Chicago Park District cultural liaison Danielle Littman.
Williams’ dream includes not only art in his planned gallery, but music and theater, too. He said he’s determined to keep creating and share what he loves.
In the interest of full disclosure, Williams works the overnight security shift at CBS 2, which is how we found out about his dream. He has a Gofundme page to help him reach his goal of $335,000 for his gallery and studio.