From his bedroom, Colin Williams can see the sun glisten on the dozens of windows on the dome-like Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory building in Druid Hill Park. He eats fruit on his mattress with blue sheets, takes in the view and people watches.

Not long ago Williams was living in the park, curating an ever-changing sculpture garden and befriending strangers. Many would bring him food, art supplies and other knickknacks during the nearly two years he spent outdoors.

The self-appointed, unofficial artist in residence of Druid Hill Park now has his eyes set on a new muse and journey — making his newfound house into a home. Beyond decorating, Williams is looking forward to taking on the role of a responsible, neat and creative neighbor in Auchentoroly Terrace, a stone’s throw away from the park.

“It couldn’t be more perfect,” Williams said, getting giddy every time he looks up at the high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows in his bedroom and kitchen.

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Artist Colin Williams, who formerly lived in Druid Hill Park, has obtained housing through the city and now lives in a home across the street from his previous park dwelling. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Williams moved into the park during the pandemic because he was tired and stressed out from several unfulfilling jobs he juggled to barely make ends meet. He wanted to live on his own terms and dedicate his time to his artwork. It was an “exhilarating” experience living outdoors, Williams said, up until he was approached last November by Baltimore City officials and agreed to move out of the park and get help finding permanent housing. Arrangements were made for him to stay in a hotel downtown in the meantime. His artwork was torn down by the Department of Public Works in the days following his departure from the park. Williams denied help from the city before, but he finally decided that he didn’t want to let down the people who care about him.

Williams was in the hotel for a few months and said he only looked at one other place before he was sold on his apartment. He was able to get housing assistance through a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development program, he said. His stipend, he added, covers rent and BGE expenses for two years. Williams doesn’t feel out of place in the neighborhood and cherishes the “beautiful view.” He was also surprised by how many familiar faces he’s already seen in his block.

“In my heart I always knew I wanted to live on Auchentoroly,” Williams said, adding that he’s intrigued by the street’s weird spelling and pronunciation. He’d walk by the houses when he was younger, he said, in awe of how “magnificent” they looked.

Williams’ sister, Jocelyn Williams, doesn’t think her brother will have any issues fitting into the neighborhood because he has an authentic and positive personality that attracts most all who meet him.

“The way he carries himself, you’d be surprised by the people who have fallen in love with Colin and who he is. They’re people you never thought would associate themselves with him,” Jocelyn said. She hopes this next chapter for her brother is as stress-free as possible and that he can excel in every way that he wants to in his “adorable” apartment.

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You can tell it’s his apartment by a small art piece affixed to the outside of his bedroom window — spray-painted metal railings he found in East Baltimore’s Old Town Mall, and small wooden fixtures painted red that look like mini ladders.

Colin Williams didn’t have much when he moved into the apartment, but he’s using the same scavenging skills from the park to furnish it.

“Every waking moment I am working. I’m breaking a sweat, hustling and moving,” he said. Williams wants to be considered a “houseman,” which he jokingly calls himself because he said he can’t be a housewife or househusband.

The first day he moved in, he found two white, bench-like chairs and a dining room table in a nearby alleyway. He also found a trash can, dishes for his kitchen, a crockpot, an air compressor and more.

The front door of the first floor apartment leads right into the living room and kitchen. Boxes of Velveeta macaroni and cheese, Hamburger Helper and cans of tuna sit on top of the refrigerator. He finds peace of mind securely storing his food given the situation with his former frenemies, the squirrels in the park, who constantly rummaged through his things.

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Artist Colin Williams, who formerly lived in Druid Hill Park, has obtained housing through the city and now lives in a home across the street from his previous park dwelling. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

Williams said he enjoys cooking, especially when there are people around that are eager to eat. He is determined to keep the refrigerator and cabinets filled with food, but he has no intention of going back to a 9-to-5 job again. He wants his artwork to “speak for itself” and eventually help him make a living. For now, he’s memorized where he can visit local food banks.

William Minor, a man who befriended the artist in his early days at the park, still stays in contact and brought Williams food such as fruit and vegetables and two large pieces of ham for the freezer. Minor said he wants Colin to be cautious about the things he’s gathering so that he doesn’t hoard and put himself at risk for eviction. Williams admits he was a “wild dandelion” in the park, which provided a grassy and seemingly open floor plan for creating artwork and collecting miscellaneous items. The apartment, he said, will give him physical boundaries to keep him in check.

Minor also wants Williams to be conscious of how he’s displaying his art in a residential area.

“Some people will look at it like trash and some people will look at it like it’s amazing,” said Minor, who’s an admirer of Williams’ work. He thinks eventually Williams will need a large warehouse if he wants to be the artist he’s striving to be.

In Williams’ kitchen, parts of a bookshelf are pieced together by purple tape and spray painted in red, pink, purple, blue and gold. There are also pieces of spray painted glass near the tall window so the colors can pop in the sunlight. He dabbled in a new technique, using hair dye, to add more color to certain pieces.

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There’s a parking pad in the back of his apartment next to a brick garage that he uses as a workshop. He’s been thinking about going over to his old haunting grounds at the park and creating again to “see what happens.” He isn’t sure where his artwork is going to take him now, but he’s easing into different opportunities as they come. He struggles with figuring out how to professionally sell his pieces. Putting on the “salesman hat” reminds him of the grueling years he worked at retailer LensCrafters, a time when he hardly ever took vacations.

Artist Colin Williams, who formerly lived in Druid Hill Park, has obtained housing through the city and now lives in a home across the street from his previous park dwelling. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)

“It felt like a gift” when he recently displayed a sculpture at a community garden. The sculpture was one of his very few unchanging pieces of work, he said. One of his last installations at the park featured thrones and sculptures that incorporated chairs. He also had a permanent installation for his mother who died in 2016. Baltimore City Recreation and Parks still has some pieces of his artwork and supplies in one of their storage facilities, he said.

Williams misses casually seeing people at the park, but he thoroughly enjoys the quiet — aside from the busy street — the air conditioning in his apartment and solitude when he wants it.

He can’t wait to get more furniture to create a swanky, stylish and classy space that mesmerizes guests — a place where they can sit back and enjoy the view.