Jimmy’s Story

Artist Jimmy Jenkins is sharing the inspiration behind his River District murals, his latest projects, and advice for aspiring artists.

Tell us about yourself, your family, and where you’re from.

I am a Fort Worth native of 52 years and a father to three great, wonderful kids–two daughters and a son. I went to graduate school at Texas State College and earned a degree in Marketing and Advertising. In 1995, I started Fort Worth Screen Printing, which I co-owned for 20 years. I also enjoyed illustrating for Harley Davidson for five years.

When did you move to The River District, and why did you decide to move here?

I moved to The River District in July of 2014. I loved that it was surrounded by the Trinity River and had large, mature trees. I also liked the nature of the neighborhood because of its horseshoe shape—not a lot of unknown traffic moving in and out. It’s also very close to all the museums and downtown Fort Worth.

What do you do for a living?

For the last three years, I’ve made a living as a full-time artist. Soon, I will be involved in a new project here in The River District, which will be very exciting for everyone. I’m looking forward to announcing the project soon.

When did you first start making art? How did you learn your skill?

I believe I started making art in First Grade and loved it my entire life. Since then, I have been self-teaching.

Two of your murals reside in The River District: The Wise Monkeys and The Giant Butterfly murals. Can you tell us the story behind these two beautiful works of art?

The Wise Monkeys demonstrate the saying of, “Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil, See No Evil”.

The monkey on the left demonstrates living in the past. Sometimes, we have to eat things that make us cry and go through things that make us sad. It’s a part of life, and sometimes we have to taste the bitter things and remember it’s temporary. The monkey in the center is “Monkey Lisa”. She demonstrates being hopeful, prosperity, balance, and living in the present. The monkey on the right demonstrates taking risks, chances, and foolishness. The tomatoes in his eyes represent death and drunkenness, and the toothpick in his mouth represents a rebellious attitude. Leaning too far to the right is a spice of life but can also shorten it.

The Giant Butterfly is about change. Changing your life to do something different and giving drivers a good feeling every day on their way to work. Not only is it art, but there is a pin on the left side of the art that makes shadows on the ground, which marks the seasons four times a year.

How long did it take to create these two murals in The River District?

The Wise Monkeys took about 45 days, including thinking about how I was going to do it. The Giant Butterfly took about the same amount of time, however it was built off-site and installed in two days during the fall equinox.

Where do you find your inspiration when making art?

I always say it is hard to come up with the idea and easy to paint, but most of my inspiration comes from wanting to enlighten people’s lives and create surroundings that make a beautiful place to live.

Where else can we see your work?

In addition to The River District Wise Monkeys and The Giant Butterfly at Pearl Snap Kolache, I have had the opportunity to work on various creative jobs for:

  • The Fort Worth Zoo
  • The National 9/11 Memorial in New York City
  • Firebird Restaurant Group: El Fenix Restaurant, Village Burger Bar, Meso Maya, Taqueria La Ventana
  • Eastside Blossoms
  • The Velvet Box
  • Park 7 Apartments
  • Wired Willies
  • Emmitt Smith
  • The Durty Crow

This is just naming a few and thinking about it makes me very thankful for all of these opportunities. I look forward to many more!

Are you working on any fun projects at the moment?

Yes! The number one fun project at this moment is the one I mentioned above in The River District. I am also working on at least ten other projects—most of them are across the U.S., not just in Texas.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring artists out there?

  • Just do your best at painting. If you screw up, you can always paint over it.
  • If you want to do something and you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Investigate every opportunity.
  • Dance as hard as you can. When the opportunity presents itself, DANCE MONKEY… DANCE!
  • Do not let chances like sun beams pass you by. You never miss the water until the water runs dry.

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