He calls his body of work “Chance Curiosities,” a name that captures the unique and eye-catching scenes he creates by assembling everyday items and nostalgic knickknacks into pieces that fit on a wall like a painting.
“Once I get the pieces, I know what goes together,” Williams said.
He buys items at garage sales and thrift stores – things that may have gone to waste – and fits them into a scene with distinct stories.
“I try not to get rid of stuff,” Williams said.
“Nature’s Cathedral,” a piece containing a painting, light fixtures and metallic butterflies, “just came together” for Williams.
A bottom of a boom box serves as the base for another piece, along with a CD holder.
Williams displayed his assemblage of pieces in the Cortez Cultural Center in February, before the pandemic, where a number of them sold.
But the house he purchased five years ago has a finished workshop in the back that he has turned into his art studio and gallery. Open by appointment, Williams invites residents to look at the pieces and hear the stories behind them.
He started as a photographer in Southwest Texas, and eventually opened his own gallery in Santa Fe. But Williams was forced to close the gallery in 2008 when the stock market crashed.
He became finance director of the local Habitat for Humanity in Santa Fe, which had a thrift store that collected art and other home décor.
Williams started purchasing these items every once in a while, and eventually he began incorporating the items with some of his photographs to give to friends as gifts.
He retired in 2015 and moved to Cortez for the beauty of Southwest Colorado and his love for being outdoors, Williams said.
In his workshop, Williams takes jewelry, wood blocks, textiles, glass beads and tiles and makes pieces for his gallery.
“It’s been a joy to come down here,” Williams said.
Some of his photographs are still for sale, but Williams has shifted his focus to assemblage art three years ago after buying a few pieces of recycled art created by a friend in Santa Fe.
Most of his inventory is also on Etsy at https://etsy.com/shop/ChanceCuriosities.
Williams plans to approach galleries in Mancos once COVID-19 restrictions begin to die down, though he hopes other artists in the area would be interested in putting together a studio tour around Montezuma County.
“It’s something to do while I retire,” he said.
Williams encourages residents to give him a call at 560-7536 to schedule a visit to see the collection.