Rachel Bubis: As a TN native who has been living and working here many years as an artist and curator, how do you take the temperature of the current art scene in TN? Do you notice any similarities or differences between the Memphis and Nashville communities?
Hamlett Dobbins: I haven’t been able to travel as much as I used to when I was working as a curator. I think the energy and activism in the Memphis art community ebbs and flows. We have spurts where there are lots of popup alternative spaces and then people move away or get full time jobs or get burnt out and they close and then a few years later there’s another spurt. I feel like there are great things happening at a number of the institutions in Memphis, particularly thinking about the college galleries here. Patty Daigle is continuing great programming at the University of Memphis Fogelman Galleries, same with Joel Parsons at Clough-Hanson Gallery at Rhodes College. Now Cat Peña is running the gallery at Christian Brothers University. Dwayne Butcher organized a show for the newly renovated Art Museum at the University of Memphis. The Crosstown Concourse and Crosstown Arts will be a big bump for the community with a new space for exhibitions and its residency program. There are some new spaces and groups like the Orange Mound Gallery as well as The CLTV. I feel like it’s a good time to be in Memphis as an artist. Of course, like all communities, we could all use more patrons for the arts. I am afraid any observations about Nashville or Knoxville would be uninformed, based entirely on conversations with friends who live there.