Charles Williams

Charles Williams: Silo #3

October 7 - December 3, 2010


I was born in 1942 in a little old country hick town, in coal-mining territory eight miles from Hazard, Kentucky, back up in the hollow where the blacks lived. Blue Diamond, Kentucky. It is no longer in existence. Hazard was the big town for us back then, where we would do all our major shopping, especially for Christmas.

Blue Diamond had one of everything, and the commissary store was the big center store there. All the coal miners did their shopping for food, clothes, and other things at this store. ere was one small post o ce, one doctor’s o ce—and he did make house calls. For serious sickness you were taken to Hazard Mountain Merry Hospital. We had a two-story show-house or theater “movie place.” Fifteen cents would get you into the movie, and there was always a cartoon. And upstairs, a fourth of it to your right was for the blacks only. I did go to the movies a lot there in Blue Diamond to see Superman, Tarzan, Batman and Robin, Jungle Jim, and Westerns with Lash La Rue, Cisco Kid, Lone Ranger, Red Ryder; and my number-one Western star was Bill Elliot. He would walk into a bar with his guns turned backward and order a glass of milk, tell all that he is a peaceful man and is looking for no trouble. Captain Marvel and Superman was the top dogs to me. ey could y.

I discovered art making in Blue Diamond coming up, playing house with some of the girls coming up, which was making mud pies, and I accidentally gured out ceramics, of which I did learn that the mud would get hard like a rock when it dries. I started experimenting with mud, made stu like head gures out of balls of clay, then let it dry in the sunlight, if the sun did come out. It would rain, take too long to dry, and I got to wondering how to dry it faster. en sometime later on, I thought if I put it in the oven of the coal stove when no one is home, perhaps the stu would dry quicker. When my grand people were gone, I put the stu in the coal stove.

I did graduate from the Job Corps Program with ying colors in 1967, but couldn’t get hired into any of the factory facilities in Kentucky, so I wound up doing janitorial jobs or whatever I could, and ended up in the cleaning service of IBM in Lexington.

I made a bunch of pencil holders, all sizes. at rst one was from stu some guys gave me at work. Plastic melts o the machine and it takes certain forms when it hits the oor. It becomes solid with weird shapes. I put them on a stand and paint it, keep it in its unique weird stage, and some of them forms looks like a animal’s brain. Makes you think of a brain.

My drawings or sculptures are from ideas of things I do think of or about, not from some emotion feelings or anything of such. ough nothing is wrong with such. But my artwork is from things I see, think of, create, or all of the above.

*From interviews and correspondence with Charles Williams by William Arnett. 

Portrait of Artist
Photo Album Detail
Installation View

About the Artist:

Charles Williams, a native of Blue Diamond, Kentucky, created a vast body of work that included photography, comics, paintings, sculptures and an environmental installation and home that he referred to as Silo #3

"I got me this place here and decided to do something with it. I have always had art on my mind and wanted to do something out front there that I hadn't heard of no other person doing. I fixed up the trees to give them some new life, some color, one idea got another idea and so on down the line, each idea kept building into another idea."

The Bibelots of Charlie Williams by Bianca Spriggs, Ace Weekly, October 18, 2010

In Death, Lexington Artist Gets... by Shannon Eblen, Lexington Herald-Leader, October 24, 2010