College Town, Hub-Bub bring art, college designs to utility boxes by HUB-BUB

The newest public art project in Spartanburg seeks to give the county’s seven colleges more of a presence downtown.

Electric Art, an effort by Hub-Bub and the College Town consortium, features colorful vinyl coverings on nine utility boxes across the city. Each of the county’s seven colleges and College Town are featured on boxes, and the work of Roderice Cardell, also known as the Maddd Artist, is in front of the Spartanburg County Headquarters Library.

“We wanted to do something arts-based that showcased the colleges in downtown Spartanburg,” said Naomi Sargent, director of College Town. “We wanted to give students a sense of ownership in downtown.”

Sam Veremchuck, a Wofford College graduate and outreach administrator at the Chapman Cultural Center, surveyed students at several of the county’s colleges to learn what icons should be included with each college’s colors and design. He worked with local artists Russell Bannan and Eli Blasko to design each college’s vinyl pieces.

That led to lesser-known things being included on the vinyl box covers — like strawberries and cream, a Converse College tradition dating back to the college’s beginning, being included on its box, just in front of Groucho’s at Church and Main.

Public art is about the continuing transformation of our community.
— Eric Kocher, Director of Creative Placemaking & HUB-BUB

“It was initially about elevating the ordinary, but there was the dual focus about partnering with College Town,” said Eric Kocher, director of Hub-Bub, which now falls under the Chapman Cultural Center umbrella. “What we wanted to do was represent students’ identity.”

Monday afternoon, the boxes featuring Converse, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Spartanburg Methodist College and College Town were all complete. Boxes for the University of South Carolina Upstate, Wofford, Sherman College of Chiropractic and Spartanburg Community College were left to finish.

Kocher said the most difficult part of the project was getting approval for the designs from the S.C. Department of Transportation. SCDOT owns the utility boxes, so any changes have to receive approval in Columbia, he said.

The newly redesigned boxes add to the ongoing gradual facelift across downtown.

“Even with the hanging baskets, it changes the aesthetic of the city as you walk through,” Sargent said. “Transforming that into something positive to look at can definitely change your feelings as you’re downtown.”

Electric Art started because it would add more art to structures that were either meant to be ignored or had been overrun with graffiti, scratches and faded stickers, Kocher said.

“There’s no point at which we reach capacity for public art,” Kocher said. “There’s no point that we say, ‘And now, we have enough.’ Public art is about the continuing transformation of our community. I think these boxes right now are a moment to signal some of that.”

By Zach Fox
Staff Writer
Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Hub-Bub to become part of Chapman Cultural Center by HUB-BUB

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A group of Spartanburg artists and creatives formed in 2004 soon will be under the umbrella of Chapman Cultural Center.

This summer, Hub-Bub will become part of Chapman Cultural Center’s Outreach and Community Development Division, which manages the Spartanburg Downtown Cultural District and various neighborhood public arts programs.

Jennifer Evins, CEO and president of Chapman Cultural Center, said the merger is a good business move that will be able to leverage the center’s capacity as a leading arts agency with Hub-Bub’s strengths as a creative manager of public spaces.

“We are thrilled to be joining creative forces with Hub-Bub,” she said. “Their mission is critical to what has strengthened the arts in Spartanburg for the last 10 years.”

Evins said Chapman Cultural Center intends to build upon Hub-Bub’s offerings and programs to benefit area artists and Spartanburg’s economy.

“The arts are fueling tremendous momentum in our city and county,” she said. “We believe that working together is a better use of our resources to the benefit of our community.”

Hub-Bub’s showroom gallery and performance hall was located at 149 S. Daniel Morgan Ave. from 2006 until 2015. The showroom provided a space for the group’s events and a venue for artists to present their work. Since moving out of the building, Hub-Bub has occupied a space off of Spring Street.

This past summer, Hub-Bub launched a variety of new downtown programming with plans to bring up to 150 free, public events each year for the next three years to Morgan Square.

Eric Kocher, managing director of Hub-Bub, said the group is excited about the upcoming union with Chapman Cultural Center.

“With last year’s official designation of Spartanburg’s Cultural District and Hub-Bub’s downtown programming initiative, the partnership feels like a natural fit, and we believe it will be a big win for both organizations and the communities we serve,”
— Eric Kocher, Director of HUB-BUB

Kocher said the merger will help expand Hub-Bub’s inventory of public art and provide new events and opportunities to spend time in downtown Spartanburg.

“We also look forward to re-imagining and expanding our artists-in-residence program, through which we will recruit talented artists and creative professionals from around the country to live and work in Spartanburg,” he said.

By Alyssa Mulliger
Staff Writer
Spartanburg Herald-Journal