After working in Hollywood and returning home to be closer to family and to design new art projects, Forest Park resident Amy Turilli is ready to tackle her latest endeavor as the new executive director of the Historical Society of Forest Park.

While Turilli was not previously a member of the Historical Society, she was approached for possible interest after impressing the group by her successful local art displays and programs with no outside funding, only her zeal to strengthen the community.

“I was approached to be involved in the Historical Society’s new cultural center because of an event I run in town called ‘garART,’ where artists and residents transform garages into galleries for one night,” Turilli said. “I met a woman named Chris Everett, who was treasurer on the board, and she and I started talking about this and how I was able to pull the event together with no funding.”

For the past two years, Turilli has spearheaded garART in Forest Park as a way for residents to transform their otherwise boring garages for one night into art galleries, creating an art walk, where Turilli says the goal has been to look at art, enjoy refreshments and mingle with neighbors. This year, garART will take place on Aug. 27, courtesy of sponsorship from the Kiwanis Club of Forest Park and the Historical Society.

“The reason I did garART was because it’s an easy way to display art in the neighborhood in a creative way,” she said.

Jerry Lordan, president of the historical society, said the group was excited to welcome Turilli on board after being impressed with both her resume and her community organizing with garART.

“Amy has great organizational abilities,” Lordan said. “She is a Forest Park resident and she has great personal and professional credibility in the artistic world.”

Turilli, who earned a bachelor’s degree in film studies and fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago, has an extensive background in art and creative programming. She has served as the creative director at a local publishing company; wrote, directed and produced independent films in Los Angeles; and designed art curricula in inner-city Chicago.

“The talent [in Hollywood] is mind-blowing but you get humbled really quickly,” she said of her West Coast experience. “You either get upset or keep going to learn from the bottom. I wanted to be as good as everybody else out there.”

But when her mother died in 2010, she decided to move back home to be closer to her father, who died in 2013.

After former executive director Diane Hansen Grah accepted a position as curator of Orland Park’s history museum, the board was looking for someone to fill the vacancy with a creative and enthusiastic spirit for Forest Park. However, when Turilli was invited to meet the board members to chat about her local involvement, she had no idea she was being interviewed for the position.

“There were about five members I met with,” she recalled, “and we just sat down and got to know each other and talked about everything I did when I went to film school, films I made, and other artistic endeavors I’d done. They were looking for someone who could focus on bringing culturally-significant programs, art events and music events to a cultural center.”

“We would like to broaden our scope and see our new home grow as a museum and cultural center,” confirmed Lordan. 

Since being hired, Turilli has many goals to help the society move forward, including transforming the group’s meeting space at the First United Church of Christ. The church, which has a dwindling congregation, has an agreement with the Historical Society where the group will eventually take over the entire building.

“Right now, the building is in such a state of need and disrepair that we can’t actually hold any events there,” Turilli said. “We really want to bring the community together, but the building just isn’t ready for that. There’s a lot of structural needs and issues and we just don’t have the financing at this time to do that.”

Turilli said she hopes to lead the Historical Society through a planning phase and organize fundraising events that will enable them to become a full historical and cultural hub for the community.

This October, Turilli has plans to push to increase membership. Turilli hopes her tenacity will help the society thrive for years to come.

“I get an idea, I start an idea and I finish an idea,” she added. “I can see things through from start to finish.”