BILLY DEE WILLIAMS
Art Brokerage: "Billy brings us into his world through his paintings which are characterized by their diversely expressionistic quality." "Billy's use of a deep and intense palette captures you into the moment." An internationally recognized American icon, Billy Dee Williams is an artist who painted from an early age and was offered art scholarships way before his film career began. As a young art student he followed his love of acting in order to purchase the paint and canvas he could not afford. As a consummate actor Billy has performed in an excess of 150 films and plays, first beginning his acting career on the Broadway stage. He is still immediately recognized as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars and the provocatively handsome and suave romantic lead from Lady Sings the Blues as well as a lead in the Emmy award winning Brian's Song. Billy has continued to paint for his entire life. His work has been exhibited and collected all over the world. As Honorary Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute his love of all music and jazz specifically inspires many of his works. His paintings are included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Gallery, Washington DC, the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture, New York, African American Museum, New Orleans, and the American Museum of Jazz, Kansas City. Private collectors include such notable individuals as Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, saxophonist Kenny G., The American Olympic Committee, The Nissan Motor Corporation and Sears Corporation also include Billy's paintings in their collections. Billy Dee Williams grew up in Harlem with a family that actively encouraged his artistic abilities and fostered an enthusiasm for all forms of cultural expression. He began drawing at an early age and won scholarships to the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design in New York. There he studied classical principles of painting. Ironically, it was the need to earn money to buy paints and canvas that brought Williams his extensive credits in both television and film. In 1988, he renewed his enthusiasm for painting during an acting appearance in New York. Since 1991, he has had numerous solo art exhibitions across America, and has donated paintings to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC and The Schomburg Museum in New York. Williams calls his paintings abstract reality to express the underlying principles behind them. He draws his subjects from life: people he has met, situations he has lived, and sometimes characters he doesn't know, but whose idiosyncratic appearance or behavior has caught his eye. His return to New York stage with Fences in 1988 provided an opportunity for Billy Dee to go back to his home and the center of the art scene, and awakened the painter in him. He went back to California with a new enthusiasm and a wealth of ideas for his original means of artistic expression, completing 120 works within two years. Although he has worked in oils, Billy Dee's current preference is for acrylics, which he applies to the canvas by both airbrush and paintbrush.