“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one,” is the saying I thought of after my conversation with Michael Dantzler.
“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one,” is the saying I thought of after my conversation with Michael Dantzler. Music, photography, and gardening are just highlights of the interests and talents that Michael has exhibited in the first few chapters of what promises to be a long and incredible story.
Michael is a South Carolina native who proudly calls Eastover his home. After moving there as a young child, he was raised in the Church and around agriculture, in the home of his step-father and mother. It was this foundation that introduced Michael to music and gardening.
Michael shared with me that when he was 12 years old, a church musician fashioned a trombone for him out of spare parts. This kindness led to Michael trying the cello and finally settling on the alto saxophone and playing that in church for nine years. Through his faith walk, Michael believes that his calling is to work with his community through the Eastover Community Garden and all the blessings developed from that project.
The Garden has been the subject of two documentaries [SCETV’s American Graduate’s 2015 Youth Media and Health Institute and Eastover Community Garden: Seeds of Change]. And Michael was awarded a total of $70,000 from the USDA-NRCS and the Art of Community: Rural SC Initiative of the SC Arts on behalf of the garden. Michael sees the Eastover Community Garden as a springboard that can bring real solutions for his neighbors. The sentiments of Anna Pavord, an English horticulture writer, are brought to mind. She said gardening was ‘the best possible defense against an increasingly hostile world.’ It represents an investment, hope, and the willingness to do for something better.
Michael has also begun publishing a community newsletter distributed in partnership with the Town of Eastover. He has his eye set on planning an event series. He wants to attract other people to invest in the town and for more businesses to plant in Eastover, so young people stay. In Michael’s words, “Why not Eastover?” And with the trend of working from home seeming more like a way of life, I echo Michael and say, why not live outside the city limits and go where you could make a substantial impact?
Michael repeatedly acknowledged the people that assisted or inspired him. I appreciate his spirit of gratitude and willingness to share how that helped him. A friend saw promise in Michael and encouraged him to explore photography. More compliments for what he was able to capture and subsequent gigs were had, and in 2012 Michael invested in an art studio space in Tapp’s Art Center Columbia.
Michael’s photography work demonstrates his ability to use light and composition to showcase a subject’s strengths. He has documentary-style photos on exhibit in the group show, 22 South Carolinians, until May 22, 2022, at Columbia Museum of Art.
Michael also does commercial photography. He is currently working with The COMET, the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority. The project has made him a passionate advocate for public transportation, where he sees benefits like being a vehicle for equality, conservation, and an invitation for exploration for people throughout the community.
In a world where people are told they should pick a direction and follow it to millions of dollars or followers, watching a soul follow his talent, intuition, and dreams to better his community is beautiful.
I salute you, Michael Dantzler!