He would fill my mug with beer at the Corner Brewery, and we’d exchange pleasantries, but I didn’t really know much about Casey Dixon until I conducted this interview with him several weeks after he left Ypsilanti to travel the globe. It kind of makes me think that maybe I should start focusing more on my interviews with people who are new to town, rather than waiting until once they’ve made up their minds to leave. At any rate, I hope you find this interview with Casey interesting… If nothing else, I think you may find that it shines a little light on the origins of that mysterious portal that appeared temporarily on Water Street this last spring.
MARK: What’s your name, and where were you born?
CASEY: Casey Dixon. I was born in Jackson, Michigan.
MARK: And you grew up in Jackson?
CASEY: Born and raised, moved out when I was 20.
MARK: Did you come to Ypsi to attend EMU? If so, did you graduate?
CASEY: Yes, and yes. I graduated with a BFA in sculpture and painting.
MARK: Why Ypsi? Why EMU? Were you familiar with the town/school having grown up in Jackson?
CASEY: I wasn’t familiar with EMU when I decided to go there, it was the most economically sensiable decision I could make so I made it. Ypsi was just a welcome surprise.
MARK: Did you know when you enrolled in EMU that you wanted to pursue painting and sculpture? If not, how did you come to make that decision?
CASEY: I knew I would go into art. I had basically finished my painting degree when I discovered sculpture. Sculpture changed my life, the way I see the world and the way I live my life, so I kinda had to go for it. It took me by surprise.
MARK: What did you do here in Ypsi, when you weren’t being a student? Did you work here? Did you have hobbies, friends, etc?
CASEY: I worked, explored and taught. I worked at Rutherford Pool, taught at the Michigan Ave library, and worked at the Corner Brewery. And I had a lot of friends and hobbies… creating and storytelling among the top.
MARK: Can you give me an example of something that you created while you were here?
CASEY: I made plenty of “paintings” around town and one “public sculpture.” They were done incognito. I invested about 600-800 dollars of my money in the sculpture, and, as far as I know, it’s all been stolen. It was a door.
MARK: What kinds of stories do you tell?
CASEY: Stories that entertain and inspire. Some are fantastical, some are realistic, and some are ridiculous. They are all true. By breathing life into them and sharing them, I give them a life of there own. They will be as real as the person who receives them, perceives them to be.
MARK: I did an exit interview a couple of weeks ago with a guy who just left for Portland who said that, of all the places he’s been, Ypsilanti has the most immoral and unfriendly people (as a percentage of total population). Would you agree with that assessment?
CASEY: No, it can be a little rough, but you get out of it what you put into it. If you’re good to other people, other people will be good to you. Everyplace has both good and bad people, but as living beings we tend to attract the type of people who we need in order to feel excepted in a place.
MARK: Am I sensing some new age mysticism here?
CASEY: I don’t think so, but maybe. It’s nothing I’ve read, or decided to believe in. It’s more of an instinct that all people have, just most people either ignore it, or have forgotten how to use it. I just try and pay attention to things around me and see how the world around me works.
MARK: How would you describe Ypsi to a friend who was thinking about moving here?
CASEY: It’s magical place, but it’s hidden, deep magic. It can only be found by those who look and can truly see… It was changing when I left, so it will be a different animal when i return I’m sure… as all things are.
MARK: Can you share any of the deep, hidden magic you found here?
CASEY: You’ll think I’m crazy, but that’s OK. There is an evil tree, a lost spirit frozen by the river, an old wolf temple, and lots of other things if you look at the history of the area. No specifics, go find them for yourself, they’re there.
MARK: Where are you now, and why?
CASEY: I’m wandering. I’m in Seattle for a little bit… It has something to teach me, so I’m here to learn. From there, I’ll go where ever the wind will take me, no definate plans.
MARK: What did Ypsi teach you?
CASEY: How to live. And appreciate life. Being gone now, its taught me to appreciate what you have (or had) because nothing lasts forever.