EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Billy Twymon moved to Evansville about 30 years ago, and he only planned to stay here for a month.
Now, three decades later, Twymon has not only stuck around, he’s also put down roots and contributed to the local arts community.
Art is a passion for Twymon, a Detroit native who is now 70, and he’s opening up a new space this week to help others enjoy it.
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Twymon’s new gallery, TwymonArt, is set in an unusual setting: a house.
It is located at 1015 Lincoln Ave., a two-story house that now houses Tymon’s work and that of 17 other artists.
“As an artist, I could already see it visually. I was already moving stuff,” he said of the location choice.
Twymon gave up his other business, a downtown cafe called Java Bean. He retired from this commercial quest and began to invest in his art.
Not feeling like the city previously offered much space for artists of color, he said he decided to create his own. In 2016, he opened a gallery with the hope of attracting artists from all walks of life. This 3,000 square foot gallery also had a studio and was located on North Burkhardt Road on the city’s East Side.
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But there was a problem with this place: it was sharing space with other businesses and Twymon felt limited in what he could do.
Stephanie Fleming says Twymon has been an important part of the local arts community.
followed the work of the gallery during this new move and supports the message behind the gallery.
“He really supports minorities… he supports everyone,” she said. “No matter what kind of experience you have, all walks of life, he supports it.”
At his Lincoln Avenue establishment, Twymon’s background in interior design and business helped him design a space to attract more artists, he said.
Upon entering the house, visitors are greeted by sculptures and paintings. It feels like every piece of every wall is in use. There are even displays in the stairwells.
“It smacks of creativity and beautiful art. It’s an experience when you go there,” Fleming said.
Art lines each of the walls leading to a recording studio, as well as Twymon’s personal workspace and another space he rents to a graphic designer.
The recording studio is divided into three different rooms: a vocal studio, a music room and a podcasting space. Just like downstairs, the walls are strewn with photos and vinyls of different musicians.
And it all fits in 1,900 square feet of space.
“My goal is to make our people aware that we are talented and that we have something between our ears,” he said. “If we apply ourselves, we can be successful…we can be as successful as anyone here.
For him, it was easy to choose the Lincoln Avenue neighborhood because of its history with black trade. It is also a few blocks from Lincoln School, which was once one of three black high schools in Indiana.
Twymon also hopes to inspire others to return to the neighborhood.
“We’re trying to do certain things culturally in this area to bring back the identity of what once was,” Twymon said.
Now that the new space is complete, Twymon invites the community to explore its gallery. The grand opening will take place over two days, March 25 from 6-8 p.m. and March 26 from 1-4 p.m. Free entry.
Following the gallery’s grand opening, tours will be available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Once COVID cases stabilize, Twymon hopes to return to more frequent exhibition rotations, to generate more exposure for artists.
“I like to keep it as fresh and colorful as possible,” he said.
Rayonna Burton-Jernigan covers topics related to diversity and culture and can be reached at [email protected] or (812) 454-1765.