You read that right, but we'll get to the dirty deets later. Whoa, the last three months just whizzed by. Long of the short, all is chill in Wiggyland. Yay. I've been trying on some new clothes, taking off some used. I'm still living in Lynchburg, VA with the always inspiring Dee W Loizou. We've perfected our spicy fish-sauce sauce. Yes, I'm still vegetarian but this Thai dish we love requires the Red Boat, so we tread lightly and nom, nom, nom the bejesus outta that dish. I took photos for a wedding. My god, that was hard. Probably won't do that again. Thankfully the bride and groom are the best people on the planet. I took on a bookkeeping job for my dear friends at Riverviews...what! Yes, I hear you screaming. It's just temporary, people. No, I'm not moving back to NYC just yet. But I miss it. Dearly. Took photos for a fundraising event. Umm, super hard. But I did it all in character, with a British accent, in striped tights. For the challenge. Oh, I would do that again. For sure. Makes picture taking wildly mysterious. And fun. I did a few promo videos, bought a battery powered light kit, started using my flash a bit more for stills, and yeah, I taught an Introduction to Digital Photography class and an Advanced Digital Filmmaking class at the local liberal arts joint just up the street. It's called Randolph College. Used to be all women. Then that changed in 2006. I had 19 students and 16 were women. So who knows. I began teaching in February. Unfortunately I missed the first 11 classes of the semester because I came in as a pinch-hitter. Probably won't do that again. So hard. But I would do it all again if given a full semester. I taught four classes a week for a total of nine hours. 4.5 hours on Monday and 4.5 hours on Thursday. But you know what, that shizzle was a full-time job. Seriously. Best paying gig I've had in Lynchburg, but damn, brother barely had time to rest. But I kinda loved it? I know it's trite, but mad respect to all the teachers out there. Bring it in for a group hug! Yesterday was my last day. Graded all the students, sent each a personal note of gratitude, and then I noticed I hadn't written a blog post in three months. Whizzed by. The picture up top was taken at a show ring in Big Island, VA. I imagine myself sitting on those aluminum bleachers just taking it all in. Beautiful scenery, nice and quiet, just me and the cool breeze. What a spectacle. What a show. What a gift. Might as well be happy.
We move forward every day until we don't. I've spoken about my extensive work as a production accountant in Los Angeles and NYC. I'll eventually stop talking about those days and focus more on the now. When I moved to Lynchburg I didn't know what to call myself in regards to what I do. My business card in 2017 said, Michael Wiggins, compassionate. But, you know, that doesn't really work so well when you meet new people. Hi! I'm Michael Wiggins, I'm a compassionate. Crickets. But I never said, Hi! I'm Michael Wiggins, I'm a production accountant. Things change.
Today I was walking the aisles at Home Depot. I'm working on a new art installation, looking for some ideas. A kind gentleman asked if he could help me find anything. And this is what I said. Hi! I'm Michael Wiggins, I'm a working artist. Maybe I didn't say the Hi! thing, or the Michael Wiggins, but you know what I mean. I'm a working artist, that's what I said. It just came out of my mouth. I told him I was cruising the inventory looking for inspiration. His smile was genuine and wide, there was no confusion about what it means to be a working artist. He casually pointed to the forklift he was sitting on and said, this is art. We understood each other. He told me if I needed any help just let him know. Beep, beep, he rolled on.
Having photographs or an art installation exhibited in a gallery does not make me a working artist. Although I've been fortunate enough to sell a few photos, no one paid me to take a picture. And my video installation was also self-funded. Honestly, if it wasn't for my years working as a production accountant I would not have been able to move to Lynchburg and reinvent myself. Life is glorious this way. And now I'm a visual artist , but I ain't working. Until last week.
I get an email from Kim the executive director at Riverviews Artspace. I've known Kim nearly the whole time I've lived in Lynchburg. And Dee and I had the pleasure of being one of her guinea pig vendors at the first Riverviews Makers Market. Kim gave our company, Koh-Dee, a chance to sell our wares publicly. That's just Kim, incredibly supportive. Hi! I'm Kim Soerensen, I'm a compassionate. And I would say, yeah you is sis, yeah..you..is. Anyway. Kim's email said some glowing things about my work and basically she hired me to be the staff photographer for Riverviews. I mean...
This was a good day. Kim immediately put me to work documenting a screening of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. I did ok. And I was sincerely giddy for the opportunity. I told myself I would be better at the next gig if I schmoozed a bit more during the process. It's really important to let people know who you are and to make them feel comfortable. And two days after that Kim had me working a fancy-pants breakfast event. In attendance would be a senator, a mayor, women campaigning for Congress, founders of the organization, news media and a ton of good-hearted Lynchburg folks. I perfected my pitch. I took 440 photos. Hi! I'm Michael Wiggins.
I'm a compassionate, a dreamer, a working artist.