UPSTATEEXPOSURES.COMVOLUME 2 | ISSUE 1 JANUARY 2017On The CoverTo start off the New Year, take a look at the faces that make up the current staff of Upstate Exposures Magazine.Upstate Exposures Magazine is published monthly by Heather Kitchen Images. Mailing address: 201 Mason Drive, Inman, SC 29349.
Designers: PHOTOANGEL, JPARGETER, STARLINE, ASIER_RELAMPAGOESTUDIO, VALERIA_AKSAKOVAYOUR NAME HEREIn the Chinese zodiac, 2017 is the year of the rooster, but I have decided that instead I am declaring 2017 to be The Year of the Party.
For almost everyone I know, 2016 was, well, awful for one reason or another. Well, it isn't 2016 anymore, so let's not look back. What can we do with 2017?
Upstate Exposures has made some obvious changes. If you're reading this right now, you've already noticed we've changed our format. The new widescreen format is designed for tablets and smart phones, so you can take Upstate Exposures Magazine on-the-go.
We are still adding to our ranks! A new column will debut in the February issue, and we hope to add a sports columnist. If you think you'd like to join our merry band, please let us know.
Our magazine would be absolutely nothing without you, our readers, so as we start a new year, we would like to thank you for reading and supporting us. We want to hear back from you. Please let us know how we are doing - your feedback is always appreciated!
Party On Upstate!Note From The EditorLetters To The Editor: Editor@UpstateExposures.com
Story Ideas: Submit@UpstateExposures.com
"...one of the most creative, inventive photographers I've ever worked with...""...photos are unbelievably stunning...""...very fun, professional, and passionate about her work...""This chick knows her stuff!"Now Booking Upstate MusiciansCont...Since Upstate Exposures Magazine began publication a few months ago my articles for Upstate History 101 have been about Fountain Inn, Clemson University, and a local Vietnam Veteran. So for this month I decided to investigate something I knew nothing about. I have lived in the Spartanburg area for around 50 years and heard of Wofford College and Benjamin Wofford. But who was he? The following is taken primarily from The Wofford College Library and Wofford Professor Phillip Stone.
Joseph Wofford and his 4 brothers William, James, John and Benjamin migrated from the Rock Creek area of Maryland to Spartanburg in the 1770's and settled in different parts of the county. William built an Iron Works near Glendale while Joseph settled near the Tyger river. A Welsh migrant named Hugh Lluwellyn who came from Pittsburg settled nearby with his daughter Martha who later married Joseph. When the Revolutionary War came Joseph and William were Patriots while the wealthier Benjamin was a Loyalist. Joseph and Martha had 6 children and on October 19, 1780 Benjamin was born and named after his Loyalist Uncle.
Martha Wofford was a religious woman although her husband was not, but after years of attending church services both her husband and son Benjamin were converted . It was this that lead the young Benjamin to become a preacher and he traveled west to Tennessee and was licensed by The Reverend William McKendree to preach at a local church. In 1806 he applied for admission as a member of the Western Annual Conference and was admitted on the condition that he free two slaves that he owned in South Carolina. He continued this work in 1806 to 1807 when he left the Conference and did not pursue ordination there.
When he returned to South Carolina he married Anna Todd in 1807. Anna was the only child of Thomas and Ann Todd who were among the wealthiest landowners in southern Spartanburg County. Benjamin and Anna lived in a house built for them by her father for 2 years until her father's death in 1809 . They then moved into the larger Todd home with Anna's mother.
For about the next 5 years Benjamin managed his mother-in-laws property but renewed his service in the Methodist ministry. In November of 1814 he was ordained Deacon by Bishop Francis Asbury at Mount Bethel Academy in Newberry. He served as a local pastor until 1816 when he was admitted to the South Carolina Annual Conference and appointed the junior preacher on the Enoree circuit until 1817.
In 1817 he and Anna gave an acre and a half of land to build a Methodist meeting-house near their home where Benjamin preached for many years. He had several other appointments with the Methodist Church but continued serving as a local Pastor for the rest of his life.
"Benjamin Wofford"Anna's mother Ann died in 1818 making Anna a very wealthy woman and it was from this wealth that Wofford College was founded. Anna and Benjamin continued to work and live on the family farm for another 17 years. Benjamin used this wealth to help finance others wanting to go into business and sold property to Phillip Weaver to build the first textile plant in South Carolina. He also sold 60 acres to the South Carolina Manufacturing for another early textile plant. He also invested in several local banks.
Benjamin and Anna remained childless and in October of 1835 at the age of 51 she died. Within a year Benjamin remarried 33-year-old Martha Scott Barron who was 23 years younger than him . Martha was from Tennessee and also from a wealthy background. Neither Benjamin or Martha wanted to live in the Todd home so they took up residence near the court-house square in downtown Spartanburg.
Benjamin continued as he had before and was involved in the founding of Central Methodist Church in Spartanburg around 1837-1838 where he served as a trustee. A supporter of Methodist higher education he contributed to Randolph-Macon College in Virginia in the 1830's.
In 1850 Benjamin signed a will leaving $150,000 to found a Methodist college and died ten months later. Maria was not happy that so much of the estate was passed out of her control but when the college opened in 1854 the faculty went to great lengths to honor her as a co-founder. Benjamin did not leave her penniless as she owned property outside of the state.
In 1920, Benjamin and Anna Todd Wofford's graves were moved to the campus where they lie side by side in front of a building they never saw. The monument reads " If his monument you seek, look around."Did You Know?January 4 is National Spaghetti DayThe fingerprints of God’s provision, protection and purpose are all over the life of Chris Bryan. For example, when I felt prompted to contact my friend and see if he would be willing to let me share his incredible story with Upstate Exposures magazine, I had no idea that I would be writing the story of his life on the same day his life began 45 years ago. To meet Chris is to immediately recognize you are in the presence of a man who lives in a realm beyond, and above, the ordinary. Born in Florence, SC, on December 14, 1971, Chris has lived in the Palmetto State ever since. He graduated from West Florence High School and attended Horry Georgetown Technical College where he studied Golf Course Management and Horticulture. During his junior and senior years in high school he worked at a local golf course in Florence. Eventually he would go on to become a lineman with Progress Energy, which has since merged with Duke Energy, but before I get to the point in his story where that river converges, I need to tell you about how he met Nicole.
Reminiscing about the first time he encountered the woman who would become his wife, Chris says, “It’s a funny story. We actually met through a mutual friend at a birthday party. Nicole’s friend Kendall was dating my friend Tommy. Kendall had invited Nicole to the party and Tommy had invited me.” While at the party, Chris and Nicole were introduced to each other and found themselves enjoying small talk together. The night went on, and they casually said their farewells afterward. But, Chris couldn’t stop thinking about the woman he met at the party. About 2 or 3 weeks later, Chris bumped into Kendall again and asked about Nicole. Picking up on Chris’ interest in her friend, Kendall said, “You should ask her out.” So he did. A whirlwind season of dating and falling in love followed. Within 6 months, Chris sought and received Nicole’s father’s blessing to propose. They were married on May 30, 1993 in Myrtle Beach at the Chapel by the Sea surrounded by family and friends. Little did either of them know that beautiful day they became husband and wife that God was preparing them for a dark night that lie ahead when they would need to lean on Him and each other like never before.
Truth be told, at the time of the wedding, Chris did not even have a personal relationship with Jesus. Nicole was a follower of God. Having grown up learning about the Lord from family and attending a Pentecostal Holiness church, Nicole had given her life to Jesus earlier in life. After they got married, though, Chris started attending church with his wife. For six months he went regularly with her and felt the Holy Spirit speaking to him, convicting him of his need to surrender his life to Jesus, and drawing him to a point of personal repentance. Chris was raised in a home that seldom talked about God or went to church. This was uncharted territory for him. However, one Sunday night, in a service Chris describes as not particularly evangelistic in nature, he reached the point where he knew he was ready to ask Jesus to take the reins of his life. So, he spoke with his pastor, Jimmy McKenzie, and stepped across the line of faith, inviting Jesus to be His Lord. Pastor McKenzie played a very significant role in Chris and Nicole’s faith journey. Pastor Jimmy was asked to officiate Chris and Nicole’s vow renewal ceremony on their 1 year anniversary. It was important to them to renew their vows at Lake City Pentecostal Holiness Church, where they attended together as followers of Jesus and part of a church family. So much had changed in a year’s time for them, and so much more change was still coming.Cont...Over the course of the next several years, Chris and Nicole’s family grew. Their first daughter, Kennedy, was born in 1995. She actually just graduated on December 15th from Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, Tennessee, from the National Praise and Worship Institute there. Next came McKenzie, the namesake of their beloved pastor and friend who had been so influential in their lives. McKenzie was actually born on Chris and Nicole’s 4th wedding anniversary! Chris told me that McKenzie always enjoys having a birthday party, even in her late teens, and that they always make sure her birthday takes front stage from a celebration standpoint. They either celebrate their anniversary before or after the actual date, so that their daughter’s birthday is not eclipsed by sharing the date with her parent’s anniversary. McKenzie also is getting her higher education at Trevecca, with a Theatre major and a minor in Intercultural Studies. And in 2001, their son, Matthew came along. He is a sophomore at Oconee Christian Academy in Seneca and is involved in the youth program at NewSpring Church in Anderson, where he currently attends with his parents. And that brings us to the point where the story moves to unveil how this sweet family came to be residents of the Upstate and how I got to meet my buddy, Chris.
It was a seemingly normal night, September 15, 2010, when an ordinary phone call turned extraordinary for Chris and his family. Working as a lineman for Progress Energy, it was not uncommon to receive calls in the middle of the night to assist with emergencies. This particular call came in around 1:00 a.m., just like a thousand calls before it. A line was down, having fallen across a road, and Chris was called in to help handle it. He got up, left his slumbering family tucked cozily in their beds, and made the ten minute drive to the warehouse in the wee hours of the morning. Nicole had become accustomed to the pattern, so she didn’t think anything out of the ordinary.
Chris says, “The last thing I remember after getting to the warehouse was getting out of the truck, the bucket truck we were taking to the site of the downed line, and locking the gate behind me. That’s the last thing I remember until the moment I was in the back of an ambulance.” He doesn’t remember the 25 minute drive to the job site with his co-worker. He doesn’t remember a lot about what happened that night. He remembers the flight nurse on the Medivac helicopter telling him, “You’ve been involved in an electrical accident,” but after seeing the lights of the aircraft through the window, his memory goes blank again. He confessed that his first thought was that he must have run off the road and wrecked the truck.
Through stories shared from his best friend and co-worker, Brad, and medical personnel who were on the scene, Chris knows that at some point after he arrived onsite to begin trying to clear the downed power line, he inadvertently stepped on the live line, and up to 14,000 volts of electricity entered his body. “When voltage is moving through the air, it is different than when it is on the ground, it changes. Fourteen thousand volts was way more than is necessary to kill somebody,” Chris said. From his experience as a lineman, he knows there had to have been a large arc flash and he was told by witnesses that his clothes were smoking. Though he has very limited, intermittent memories of the actual accident, Brad told him he was sitting up, coherent, talking to the paramedics the whole time he was in the back of the ambulance.He was also holding his right arm, which was mangled, bandaged, and severely damaged from the electrocution. After assessing his condition, medical personnel determined that his burns were so serious that he needed to be flown to the Burn Center in Augusta. That is where his memory of the in-flight nurse and helicopter connect. Chris looks back now on that night and says, “God was definitely there and graced me with not having all the mental images in my mind of the accident.” Miraculously, according to the medical team, Chris never lost consciousness, was never on a ventilator, and was coherent throughout the ordeal. His memories have simply been blocked, sparing him more trauma.
Brad and Chris’ pastor friend at the time, Derrick Fort, from Great Commission Ministries, drove to Chris’ home to inform Nicole of what had happened. When she heard the noise at the door, she just thought it was Chris coming in, like he typically did, and was expecting him to just crawl back in bed. But, as reality set in that it wasn’t Chris returning, she soon learned that to be reunited with her husband she would have to get to Augusta. Derrick and his wife Sabrina drove Nicole, and when they arrived, Chris was in at least his second surgery by then. Upon arrival, Nicole was told, “Chris’ life is in jeopardy if we don’t remove his right arm due to the damage from the injury.”
The first option was to amputate at the shoulder. Chris describes the appearance of his arm after the incident like that of a hot dog that has been left in the microwave too long. All the water and tissues in his arm had instantly vaporized when he stepped on the line. What he didn’t fully know at that point was that when the volts rapidly coursed through his body, they went up his left leg, into his left arm, came up his chest, and blew out a hole about the size of an adult male’s fist around both sides of his heart. The intensity of the blast also took out his left thumb, which has since been replaced with one of his big toes! The trajectory of the volts then came across to his right arm, where the worst damage of all was concentrated, necessitating the amputation.
Nicole consulted with the doctors and Pastors Derrick and Sabrina, and asked if there was any way to save more of Chris’ arm than to amputate at the shoulder? The doctors said they could attempt a trial amputation just below the elbow, but that it would have to be very closely monitored for 48 hours for signs of infection, and if any occurred, they would have to take the whole arm off at the shoulder. Nicole gave permission for her husband’s right arm to be amputated at the elbow and immediately put out a plea on FB for everyone she knew to PRAY!!
Cont...Chris says, “I attribute what I have left of my arm today to prayer!” No infection ever came and he was able to keep his arm from the shoulder down to the elbow. He spent 5 weeks in the ICU at the burn center in Augusta. To date, Chris has had 45 surgeries, and probably two-thirds of them were done in the five weeks he was at the burn center. There were days when he was in the operating room twice a day.
Adjusting to life after leaving the burn center was challenging. Physicians and therapists told him he was going to have to take it slow, give himself time to adjust to doing what he used to do. There was also the new world of prosthetics. Chris recalls, “It was surreal. I can remember, maybe 3 or 4 days after getting home, walking by the mirror and seeing myself and saying, ‘Lord, I am a ragged mess.’” He lamented that before he got hurt, he was probably in the best shape of his life, in the gym 5 or 6 days a week. But, after leaving the hospital, having lost a significant amount of weight, “I looked terrible…all the scars and bandages.” He said, “I told the Lord, ‘You must have a plan.’”
Chris shares, “I had a relationship with Jesus when the accident happened. I had been involved in youth ministry for ten years at that point. I had served in the “Royal Rangers” ministry at church, an alternative to the Boy Scouts, for about ten years. If I had done everything the Lord had wanted me to do and put me here for, He wouldn’t have had any qualms in taking me home that night. But, He didn’t.”
That thought has been extremely comforting and motivating to Chris on the most difficult days of depression since the accident. He remembers God must have more for him to do. He says, “I loved my job, loved being a lineman. I missed it.”He went through days of being miffed with God. He recalls that it hadn’t been many years since both of his parents passed away in their 50’s within two years of each other, due to cancer. That left he and his younger brother, Robert, without their Dad and Mom while they were still young. Chris says, “God and I had just gotten back on good terms, and then this. When God and I did talk, I reminded Him, ‘You already brought me through a lot, and You must still have me here for a purpose on this earth.’” He confessed that somedays he jokingly told God, “You could have saved my family a whole lot of heartache if You had just taken me on home.”
About a year after the accident, Chris had a vivid dream. It was a very clear depiction of the night when the accident happened. “I remember God showing me in the dream that the bulk of the electricity was taken by my guardian angel. He showed it to me like I was watching a movie. I was on the ground, kind of hunched over, and the angel had spread his wings open and taken the bulk of it across his wings to shelter me from it. When God showed me that, I felt very definitely that He had bigger plans for me!”
The next several years involved a series of outpatient procedures and settling into the “new normal.” Chris said, “Nothing will be normal again,” to which Nicole replied, “No, that’s not right. It’ll just be a new normal.” Chris tells me, very poignantly, “There is no way I would be the person I am today without Nicole. She has been nurse, cook, janitor, care taker…anything I’ve ever needed while I was hurt. She’s been right there. She worked part-time at our church, and if she had worked anywhere else, she couldn’t have kept her job. She had to endure a lot. That lady there is definitely another blessing in my life.”
Chris is still having surgeries and his latest prosthetic is cutting edge. It’s what they call “MYO Electric. MYO is for muscle.” Chris told me how it has 16 different electrodes that sit on his skin and pick up the nerve and muscle activity. My mind couldn’t help but think of the irony of how it was electricity that took his arm from him, and it is electricity that is giving him back advanced use of his arm. Anytime he moves, this computer built into the prosthetic is learning his patterns. It is very intuitive. “It makes my hand be able to move like a normal arm and hand would move. The other ones were just a basic open and close motion, but this one, when I learn it, should be more fluid. The fingers are individual, so it can hold things a lot differently. It’s also a lot lighter than anything I’ve ever had before. It’s a huge blessing.”
Chris also shared how his prosthetics are great conversation starters, especially with kids. He says he uses it as a platform to tell people about safety and the need to stay away from power lines, but mostly to tell of the faithfulness and goodness of God.
Cont...As our time wrapped up together in the middle of the overcast December day, Chris told me that three years ago, which would have been about three years after the accident, he and Nicole felt suddenly restless at church. Nothing had happened, but they just felt this unnamed discontentment. He said, “It isn’t like we felt God calling us to go to another church up the road. We were just struggling with unusual discontentment, in general.” They felt like God was preparing them for another season in another place. All Chris and Nicole could define was, “We know our spiritual gifts are in the ministries of hospitality, helps, and serving, and we just feel God has somewhere for us to go and serve.”
Last year, almost to the day, they made the decision they were going to move. They had been to the Upstate in the past to camp, and had enjoyed it, and they had traveled here a couple times in recent history, to visit a friend of Nicole’s, Kelly. “Looking back on those visits, we know it was a divine connection.” Kelly had befriended Nicole on FB through their connection to a blog. Kelly lived in Seneca. Right after Thanksgiving last year, God prompted us to pick up stakes and move. We felt drawn to Seneca. Attributing it to God’s sense of humor, Chris says, “Within about two or three months of our move to Seneca, Kelly moved to Alabama.” But, they quickly got involved with a church in Seneca and enjoyed a wonderful season of restoration and healing, interacting with the staff and congregation there. They were able to experience the comfort of dealing with issues they didn’t even know they were still wrestling with alongside their wonderful church family at United Assembly. They said, “We know God brought us here for this season.” They were knee deep seeking God’s will for their future and cried out to God, “You brought us up here, now what?!”While at United, Nicole met a couple ladies and began building a relationship. In talking with them, she told them she wanted to write a book. These ladies said, “If you are going to write a book, then you need to go visit The Potter’s Place in Central.” Nicole said, “Okay,” but put off making a trip to Central to check out this place her friends had recommended. One day, a month or two later, while their son Matthew was in school, Chris said, “While we are out running errands today, why don’t we go and check out The Potter’s Place in Central?” Nicole agreed.
If you’ve never been to The Potter’s Place, it is hard to describe such an environment that is so unlike any other space around. It is truly a unique, sacred place, and it is where I met Chris when I made one of my frequent visits there earlier this year. (Be looking for an upcoming story on The Potter’s Place in another issue of Upstate Exposures!) When Chris and Nicole arrived, they parked, walked the grounds, looked in the prayer cabins, and just stopped at one point and looked at each other and all they could muster was, “Wow!” They had no idea such a place existed for broken, hurting people, beaten up by life, to come and find solace and healing and hope.
In the meadow they prayed together, through their tears, “Lord, this is what we want to be a part of. This is it right here!” Before they left, they met “Grandpa Don,” who came out to greet them and started telling them about the mission of The Potter’s Place. Their tears started to flow again as Don prayed for them.
They returned a couple weeks later and shared their heart with Don and Shannon Schaupp, the founders and ministers at The Potter’s Place. In turn, Don and Shannon shared with them that they and the prayer team at The Potter’s Place had been praying for years for someone to come help take care of the grounds and facility there. Chris and Nicole knew in that instant why the Lord had caused their restlessness about moving when they still lived in Florence. Chris immediately began to volunteer his time taking care of the property at The Potter’s Place. It was a perfect gfit for his gifts of service and his background in horticulture!
Over the course of the next couple months, the Bryan’s continued to pour out their hearts to the Schaupp’s about their life, their calling, and their desire to serve, and in May, the Bryan’s moved onsite at The Potter’s Place to be able to help carry more of the daily load of caring for the grounds and facilities. “You hear stories,” Chris said, “about how God works and moves in other’s lives in powerful ways, but when it happens to you, it gives you goose bumps.” There have been several days since they moved onsite that anonymous gifts have shown up with Chris and Nicole’s names on them, taped to one of the doors.
And very recently, Chris and Nicole have become missionaries to The Potter’s Place as people have committed to support them financially every month in order that they may serve the Potter’s Place. “The blessing to be here, doing what I like to do. All the years I’ve been around, and all the jobs I’ve done over the years, and the different skill sets I have…I see how God has used it to prepare me for my role here at TPP. Nicole and I are now missionaries to The Potter’s Place!” He says that he is in the “little kid phase” of getting used to being in full-time ministry, being so new to this. I’m excited and whatever God wants to do, I want to do it with Him!”
As I prepared to close my computer at the end of the interview, Chris added, “God has shown us where He wanted us, and now we are working, serving and seeing what the Lord is going to do with us in this next season of our journey. As 2017 rolls around, our family is reflecting on things the Lord has spoken to us over the years and we are reminding Him, ‘We are here for You, and whatever it is You want us to do, we are willing.’”I can’t think of any better way to answer a call than that!23 RUSHMORE DRIVE GREENVILLE SOUTH CAROLINARETURNSOne Night Only!January 28, 2017 Click Here To Send Your Info! Upstate MusiciansLike Pulling TeethThere are a few things that make me instantly nervous and raise my blood pressure. I get nervous about the existential threat of global thermonuclear war. I get nervous when Mrs. Kitchen starts a sentence with “Honeeeyy…” I get nervous when I hear that Justin Bieber is about to release a new album. I even get nervous when the dog starts to drag his butt across the carpet.
I also get nervous when I know that I need dental work, which I learned the other day when I bit into a slice of pizza. The same sort of thing happened to me many years ago while eating mashed potatoes. There I was, chewing along merrily on a mouthful of Idaho’s finest when *CRUNCH*… I broke a tooth. I never learn that I need dental work when I’m eating granola or a piece of hard candy, or even when I’m hit in the face by a line drive. Noooo… my teeth call it quits on soft, inoffensive foods like mashed potatoes or a slice of pizza with extra cheese.
One trip to the dentist later, and I learned that “You have a cavity on that back molar. We can fit you for a crown.” When they told me how much that would cost, I realized that it was exactly twice as expensive as the first car I ever bought. It’s a little difficult to justify dental work the size of my pinky nail when I can buy two 1980 Pontiac Grands Prix for the same price, so I politely (yet firmly) asked for Option Two. I got a referral to an oral surgeon to have the tooth pulled out instead.
Expecting to find something like Prince Humperdink’s torture lair in The Princess Bride, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the surgeon’s office had a flat screen TV, comfortable chairs, a “Please Pardon Our Mess – We’re Remodeling” sign, and the distant aroma of sandalwood Glade air freshener and freshly cut drywall. I was whisked to the far back corner room (in jail, no one can hear you scream), and instantly swabbed down with some sort of gel that smelled like a breath mint but tasted like a peppermint urinal cake. Thankfully it numbed my tongue as well as my cheek and gums.
After 20 minutes of witty banter, the doctor came in with four needles the size of a blow dart gun and started injecting the Novocain. He told me that the urinal cake gel was supposed to numb me enough to not feel the needles, but when they go all the way through your jaw and inject you in the hip, you’re bound to feel something. After a few tears (mine, not his) and some minor cursing (his, not mine), then the real work began.Cont...With the amount of time and money that’s spent on getting a degree in oral surgery, you’d think that there’s a class somewhere that explains the mechanics of talking, and how people can’t hold a conversation when they have enough hardware in their mouths to keep Home Depot in business for a month. But I digress… The conversation went something like:
“You don’t need to hold your mouth all the way open. I can do what I need to do without you getting a jaw cramp.”
“Ahh kank hek it, Hock. Hurr skankin’ on gai gaw.”
(Climbing down) “What did you say?”
“I can’t help it, Doc. You’re standing on my jaw.”
After 45 minutes of pushing and pulling, 17 dental instruments, 6 pints of water and suction, 3 Hail Mary’s, and 1 broken and extracted molar , I can safely say that I’m now the owner of a hole in the back of my mouth the size of a Moon Pie. When I was a kid and got my tonsils removed, they gave me all the ice cream I could eat. When I got a molar removed as an adult, I got a hunk of used washcloth shoved in my mouth to sop up the blood and a bill for my trouble.
I’m starting a petition to create a law mandating all the ice cream you can eat after a dental procedure. You laugh now, but one day you’ll thank me. Visit Larkins Carolina Grill Website! Visit Shotz Website! Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light Connects City Leaders, Residents, and VisitorsWhen asked by a friend if I was interested in becoming the volunteer organizer for the new art project “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” I was quite flattered but also a bit intimidated. I am not an artist, I can’t even claim that I’m an aspiring artist. While I appreciate art in my own way, I do not possess the education or background to properly express my appreciation. Fortunately, I set aside those thoughts and delved into the project that has been appreciated way beyond the borders of Spartanburg.
The City of Spartanburg was selected in 2015 as one of four temporary public art projects from across the United States to receive a grant award from the first-ever Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. When I came on board, we were only a few weeks away from opening night on October 4th which is also the date that the City celebrates “National Night Out”.
On the team are police, healthcare workers, academics, artists, transportation employees, retirees, operations specialists, and city officials and employees. They had all worked for months on this project that was about to be revealed to the world.
Each Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light art installation represents, among other things, the connections that have been made among seemingly different people. They are glowing beacons for visitors and residents to become more connected to Spartanburg, their community and most importantly, to people they may think are very different from themselves.
With Seeing Spartanburg, art history takes a back seat to neighborhood history. That history as told by local residents led Austrian artist Erwin Redl, known for his large-scale light installations, to create the nine temporary art installations that are open until April 1 of 2017.
For most of us, we have a circle of friends, peers who share common interests, people who are much like us. Conversations are comfortable even during spirited debates. But some of most remarkable encounters in life happen when we step outside of that circle.
Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light’s art installations provide an opportunity for you to take pause in some places you may have otherwise never visited. You can make a solitary visit, take a group of family or friends or just sit in your car and study the art. But the greatest opportunity is the chance to talk to other people there you don’t know. The art is a great conversation starter!
I encourage everyone to visit a neighborhood art installation. View it and think about the many varied people involved in this project. Know that friendships have ignited and laughs and even a few recipes have been shared. Important conversations are taking place among the police, civic and community organizations, residents and visitors. Cont...In the Bloomberg Philanthropies headquarters in New York City and cities all over the United States, people are talking about Spartanburg, South Carolina. We want you to join this conversation and maybe you too will see Spartanburg in a new light.
Since becoming a part of this project, I realize now that the intimidation I felt before was wasted energy. I am enjoying the glow of the positive energy that is flowing through Spartanburg. I even have a desire to learn more about art and get to know the artists who make our little corner of the world more interesting.
Come glow with us! More about Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light:
Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light, funded with a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, and supplemental funding provided by regional institutions, corporations, foundations and private donors, is a partnership among artist Erwin Redl, the Chapman Cultural Center, the City of Spartanburg and civic leadership.
More about Erwin Redl:
Redl’s work is owned by prestigious national and international institutions, among them the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Milwaukee Art Museum; and Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul; as well as by private collectors. ...Internal Revenue agent called me up one day... told me my hotdog cart was goin' in the hole...'cause he saw me stop selling hotdogs to pray with people...
So be it.-- Wild Bill, SpartanburgWhat's on your mind?We want to know what you're thinking, Upstate, and your thoughts might just be featured in the "THOUGHTS" column of Upstate Exposures Magazine! Tell us what you're thinking - Send your thoughts, opinions, observations, musings to Submit@UpstateExposures.com (or just click here).Interesting Places"This lighthouse is almost exactly 800 miles from the Upstate of South Carolina. It sits on the eastern coast of Lake Michigan, in a small southwest Michigan town called South Haven. I ventured out to the end of the frozen pier with my camera and got a picture of the icicles hanging off the lighthouse one very cold January day a few years ago before my family moved back home." -- Heather Kitchen