By KYW community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (CBS) — A mail carrier by day, Karl Morris has a passion that consumes the rest of his life: the arts.

“Since I was a kid, I was in and out of galleries all day long,” he says.  “I love visual art, musical art.”

So, two years ago, he founded the Urban Art Gallery, on South 52nd Street, between Locust and Spruce, in West Philadelphia.

 

(Urban Art Gallery.  Photo by Cherri Gregg)

(Urban Art Gallery. Photo by Cherri Gregg)

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It started as a place to give young people a place to showcase their work, but quickly expanded.

“We became an umbrella of the arts,” Morris says proudly.

Now, UAG hosts comedy, music, and poetry showcases, and has developed free programming for kids.

One is called Chess Chat.

“It’s a mentoring program for chess, as well as to teach them different strategies for life,” Morris explains.

 

(Some kids taking part in an arts workshop at UAG.  Photo provided)

(Some kids taking part in an arts workshop at UAG. Photo provided)

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Urban Art Gallery also hosts youth art workshops and free music training.  This summer, the focus is on violin.

“It’s, like, Violin 101,” says Morris.  The program starts later this month.

Morris says he pays for the programs out of his own pocket, and through fundraising.  The gallery’s reach has expanded to hundreds in the community, and continues to grow.

“Every time I see their faces glow,” Morris says, “I just want to do more and more.”

Hear the extended interview with Karl Morris in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 9:54)…

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Follow Cherri Gregg on Twitter: @cherrigregg
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Know someone in your community who cares enough to give back? Nominate them for KYW Newsradio news coverage at communityaffairs@kyw.com!