Mims moved to Fayetteville in 2006. I met him when he was working with the Art and Soul Gallery in the downtown area. Mims has a passion for art that is self evident to anyone who speaks to him about the subject.
Coming to terms with the reality of the arts in Fayetteville, I have become acutely aware of the impact leaders in non-profit arts organizations have on the cultural community of Fayetteville and the surrounding counties. Deborah Martin Mintz, the Arts Council’s president, clearly understands how individuals have significant roles in art organizations and how their leadership can help foster an environment in which the arts can thrive in and contribute to the creation of more livable communities for all types of people, of all ages. Proof of her understanding and insight — she hired Mims.
Mims is still somewhat new on the job. Visitors to the art center may be running into him at 4th Friday openings. His experiences and passion for the arts are sure to influence the 2009 line up of exhibitions.
How Mims ended up in Fayetteville is an interesting story. His home is Detroit, Mich. I asked Mims what made him decide to retire in Fayetteville. He commented, “I visited friends in Fayetteville six years ago. When I got here I was impressed with the relatively low cost of housing as compared to Detroit and most of all I was impressed with the diversity in Fayetteville. It was refreshing to see so many different cultures coexisting with respect and harmony, so I decided to retire here.”
He and his small family moved to Fayetteville to retire; yet he immediately became involved in the arts. I was interested to know how he got involved in the arts so quickly when it takes so many years for others.
Mims smiled, “Once I settled in Fayetteville I was told about the Art’s Council’s 4th Fridays. I was impressed with the number of businesses that supported this event and showcased local artists. This is when I met C.J. Malson, the owner of Art and Soul Gallery. We started a conversation and I discovered she had a great vision for the art community and for her gallery. We talked about some of the changes she wanted to make and I wanted to help her achieve them, so I went to work for her.”
Just two years living in Fayetteville, and Mims has done more in the arts than many people take years to accomplish. Mims, C.J. Malson and Dwight Smith brought a traveling exhibit to the Fayetteville Museum of Art titled Voices: Twenty-Three African American Artists. And he is just getting started!
The passion Mims has for art advocacy can be explained by the way in which the arts changed his own life. “I became interested in the arts as a very young man. I found it comforting to spend time in the Grand Hall of the Detroit Institute of Art where I would sit and read in the quietude. Although I didn’t pursue it immediately, it was in the museum I learned that you could have a career in the arts. I left the automotive profession after 12 years and became the executive director for the Ellington-White Project for the Visual and Performing Arts.”
He continued, “Art changed my life. I am aware of how I personally came to discover the arts. And when I did, it gave me something to relate to. I bring this experience to the job at the arts council in the same way it helped me to reach young people to come to the arts and have their lives changed in the Ellington-White Project Foundation.”
Mims time at the arts council is just beginning. I asked him what he would like to see happen at the arts council. He said, “I would like to see more educational programs to help the general public understand contemporary art forms. I would also like to initiate an educational program in which people can have art works appraised and understand how to develop a collection. So many young artists come to the arts council looking for ways to develop or market their talent, a program that helps those young artists become a reputable artist in some way would be worthwhile. I see my role as fostering an environment in which the arts can survive.”
“Right now the greatest challenge in the arts is maintaining the funding sources by private patrons and government. When times get difficult, often art can be seen as a fringe benefit. It important for a community to see art is part of commerce, it defines a community – ultimately it is the foot print for the future generations.”