This guest post is written by Michael Dickins, who, as you’ve just discovered, is an artist new to Spartanburg. Please help us welcome him to our community!
Since I’m new to the area, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Michael Dickins and I am an interdisciplinary artist. I came to Spartanburg to join the faculty/staff at USC Upstate where my official title is the Performing Arts Center Box Office and Gallery Manager. I mention that because it’s the longest title that I’ve ever held that fits on a business card (I think it fits – I don’t have any cards, yet), and it’s also the first time that I’ve had an office with a nameplate.
I’ll skip the rest of that story to get to the blog post that I’m sure you’re anxious to read since most of the following is true. And I mention several people by name because they represent a range of community members that have played a role in making my new transition a pleasant and promising one. Well…here it goes.
I was asked a week ago to write for the HUB-BUB Blog. I was a little skeptical as to why I was asked, and in all honesty, a little surprised that I said, “yeah, sure, of course, I’d love to,” because I’m not a big fan of writing, and as you’ll see, I’m not the greatest writer as I can make one hell of a long-winded run-on sentence that has, I’m sure, some misplaced punctuation, but it’s something I’m working on. But like I said…yeah, sure, I’d love to. I was asked to write about “What the HUB-BUB Means to Me,” and after a couple of days of thinking about the topic and putting it off, I sat down at my new favorite break spot, The Coffee Bar (great coffee and free Wi-Fi…. *plug*) to reflect and write (did I mention the coffee and Wi-Fi?). After a few sips, I decided that I couldn’t just write about HUB-BUB without talking about my story and my new transition into the Spartanburg community….
Two years ago, I was fortunate to have an exhibition of my work at the HUB-BUB Showroom Gallery. It was an exhibition that was made possible through several conversations between Kris Neely at Wofford, Andrew Blanchard at Converse College and Stephen Long at HUB-BUB. It was refreshing to see such a collaborative effort between three different institutions and it was my first taste of what I have come to know as the Spartanburg Artistic Community. I was asked to come back to deliver a lecture on my work, and was also fortunate to be asked to talk to a couple of classes at Converse College the next morning. The three days that I spent in Spartanburg talking to artists, students, faculty and community members left an impression of what a supportive, collaborative, artistic community could be….
A couple of months ago, while on the seemingly never-ending job search, I received an email with the job posting for the Upstate position. And like other positions that peaked my interest, I began to research the school and the area. Upon finding out that the school was located in Spartanburg, I immediately began putting the application packet together thinking to myself, how cool would it be to have a job in a town that was so supportive of the arts? I was excited about the possibility of working within a Fine Arts department and becoming part of such a supportive community. I was fortunate to make the short list and was asked to visit campus to interview. I was excited to meet some of the Upstate Fine Arts people in person (The ones that I had secretly been stalking, ummm….“researching,” online), but I was equally excited to revisit HUB-BUB and the town that had left such an impression. After the interview, I drove down to The Showroom Gallery to see what was going on and as I expected, the exhibit had art that was engaging, smart, technically sound and forced me to think. Perfect…
I got the call from Jimm Cox, Chair of Fine Arts and Communication Studies, and was offered the job!! On the outside I was playing it cool, on the inside, I was that obnoxious drunk frat boy wootin’ in the middle of a sober crowd. But don’t tell Jimm this, because as I have come to find out, he would find a way to use it against me (all in fun, of course.) Upon the end of the phone call, my first thought…Yay! My second thought…Crap! (In not so polite language). The Yay was for the opportunity to live and work in a supportive artistic environment, one that my wife Dawn and I currently were not experiencing in the rural mountains of North Georgia. The Yay was also for the opportunity for our kids to grow up in a diverse, artistic environment that would give them exposure to other people, cultures, ideas and experiences that they were currently not being exposed to. The Crap was for the fact that I would have to move here without my family. See, I am married to an artist with two young kids, and since my wife is an associate professor of art under contract, we had decided that I would move here by myself to make sure that the new position would work out and that we would alternate commutes on the weekends…
I took the job. Now it was time to find a place to live. My wife and I came to visit a couple weeks later and the night we arrived, there was a “Get to know the AiRs” event at HUB-BUB. It was Dawn’s first visit to HUB-BUB, since she wasn’t able to attend my exhibition earlier. Stephen immediately met us as we walked in, congratulated me on the new job and began introducing us to some of the folks in attendance. Celia Cooksey introduced herself and welcomed us to the area; we met the new AiRs, and had a great evening hanging out with other artists and artistic supporters. Dawn stated as we left, “If the rest of the town is like this, then this is the place we need to be.”
Two weeks ago, I officially became a new member of the Spartanburg Community. The day we moved in, Tammy Stokes invited us to a progressive dinner for the new HUB-BUB AiRs. There, we met other people in the neighborhood who were associated with the greater HUB-BUB family. I have since found out that the neighborhood has many professors, artists, children and great people that support the arts in and around the community. So far, a perfect fit for what Dawn and I were looking for.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been settling in to a new routine, trying to find my way around the area and find where everything is located around town. I’ve met a lot of great and interesting people and have been gearing up for an exciting exhibition and theatre schedule at USC Upstate (join/like the Curtis R. Harley Art Gallery / Shoestring Players pages on Facebook…*another plug*). I’ve also managed to almost get all my boxed unpacked.
But becoming a huge supporter of the arts within the community as well as earning your support as an artist, is what I am looking forward to the most. It is a pleasure to be here and to be part of the Spartanburg Artistic Community.
So, to me, HUB-BUB means Support. Support for artists, musicians, writers, thinkers, actors, talkers, walkers, riders, movers and shakers…. you know…. Community.
Oh…and visit my website: www.michaeldickins.com (*plug*)