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More beautiful ways Mint practices ‘Generosity All Around’

“Sometime when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways, it can change someone else’s life forever.” – Margaret Cho, a stand-up comedian and singer-songwriter

Generosity may not keep covid-19 at bay but it can open the doors to new jobs and new perspectives on the world. It also can surprise and delight individuals in a difficult or challenging time.

Mint Artists Guild believes in the power of creativity and generosity and we are sharing some more of the ways we practiced that in 2020 here.

Inspiration in challenging times.   In challenging times, the world needs more heroes. We created them over the summer. Then in the fall, Mint shared our new exhibit Heroes: Now and Then  at the Scarab Club and then onto the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.  Before long, they may be available on our website and we expect to install them at other galleries or museums in 2021.

These Heroes paintings were created by summer workers Michael Johnson and Jessica Fligger.

Youth development and youth jobs. Mint gave 15 young people this year paid work experience this year, in our Creative Summer Jobs program and in our marketing internships. This is almost 40 percent more than in 2019. Among them was Seyi Akintoroye, who led Team Rocket one of our two workers teams this summer and created two Heroes paintings. Hear her interview in this video:

Art gifts.  Mint gave away sidewalk chalk in the spring to encourage participation in our Cheerful Chalk Challenge. We gave away art in Free Art Fridays in Palmer Park and several other places in Detroit.  Mint and Mint Artists’ Oluwaseyi Akintoroye organized our youth artists, who created and donated art to The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History online fundraiser. And Mint has a few pieces of art set aside to donate to 2021 nonprofit fundraisers.

Inspiration in challenging times. Mint assisted with with two murals this year, assisting Mint co-founder artist Hubert Massey. The first one was Power to the People in downtown Detroit and second mural was Revolutionary Love in Southwest Detroit.  Watch this six-minute volunteer-created video about the second mural now:

Beautify Detroit.  Mint shared our art gladly in the community to beautify Detroit neighborhoods.  Two examples of that showed up in the October Mint Showcase on Livernois and Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition winners’ art in local businesses in November and December. We hope to expand this in 2021, and with your generosity, we will.

Mint youth art in the window at Motor City Brewing Works on Livernois.

We know that Detroit and the Midwest are full of nonprofits who do good work. And we know that you may already have given to some of them. But we ask you to help make Generosity All Around part of your approach to 2021 and give generously to Mint Artists Guild. Our online donation portal is fast, easy and secure. And that circle of generosity will look beautiful as it grows and grows.

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More questions to cultivate as the new year approaches

 

“Fear is a question. What are you afraid of and why? Our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them.” – Marilyn French, author and feminist activist

Fear of the unknown can be powerful, painful and plentiful, especially in a pandemic.

Not knowing what lies ahead may seem like it’s a new problem in the covid era. But in truth, we often are caught by surprise by events and changes we don’t anticipate, whether it’s being fired unexpectedly or a distant relative dying and leaving us a sizable inheritance or the popularity of an exhibit like Heroes: Now and Then

With New Year’s just around the corner, it’s a good time to ask and answer some questions to light our paths and make our creative journeys easier to travel.  Increase your curiosity and you will unearth something valuable about yourself. Here are three we especially like – building on the beautiful questions we posed in the fall:

What did you learn about yourself and your dreams and aspirations in the last year?    Take time to understand how this pandemic year affected your goals and aspirations.  Perhaps you’ll do this through looking back at a vision board made a year ago and creating a new one. Or maybe you will talk to a trusted mentor or friend about this or pull out a journal and draw or write some new dreams.

What one big audacious thing do you wish to complete by Dec. 31, 2021? This question will help you think bigger and bolder about your plans. Chase away caution and triple or quadruple your goals.  Then narrow it down to one wonderful huge, meaningful remarkable goal.

“You’d corner me in your conformity but even in dormancy i’m sleeping with enormity, stretching the belly of the earth & everything i was born to be.” 

– Curtis Tyrone Jones, author and coach

Who do you need in your tribe to grow and thrive?  Everyone needs a tribe or a “kitchen cabinet” of advisors and close allies. Who is in yours? And who do you wish to invite in?  And how are you engaging one or two new people for this near year ahead? These questions invite you to create a circle of supporters, and to connect with teachers, former bosses or family friends who may be able to help your career or your education in the year ahead.  Perhaps you want one of Mint’s leaders to join your tribe. Ask us or join us.

If you want to reflect further on 2020 with timeless questions, turn to these 20 inquires from the Art of Simple, a blog about embracing a slower, less complicated life.  Or if you long for still more questions to answer as you look ahead, read the list of 19 from Brands for the Heart or head to LifeHack for questions to consider the kind of life you want to build. 

“The greatest gift is not being afraid to question,”  said actress, playwright and civil rights activist Ruby Dee.  So we end with another question that drives us:  How will we collaborate to develop more creative opportunities for children and youth and make a bigger difference in Detroit

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Generosity All Around: Mint gives back in Detroit during a tough pandemic year

Mint summer worker Tommy DuBose leads a free arts and crafts in Palmer Park in September. (Photo: Vickie Elmer for Mint)

“Not being able to do everything is no excuse for not doing everything you can.” – artist, cartoonist and author Ashleigh Brilliant

This year, as the world shut down, slowed down and took stock, Mint Artists Guild embraced the strength and beauty of generosity.

We knew it would be a tough year for children and youth in Detroit, with covid-19 raging, schools closed or figuring out how to go online and families stressed about health, money and more.  We knew we had to dig deep and go big and give as if we had deep pockets and plenty of resources. (That seems like Mint making stone soup, a tale of hunger and coming together to benefit everyone.)

Quite simply, we wanted to do everything we could to support, encourage and engage children and youth through art and entrepreneurship.

Mint has always given back through our programs with and for youth artists and our Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative. Yet during a pandemic we knew we needed to add more – many more ways to support creative children and youth and our community.

So in this season of giving, we want to share some of the ways Mint Artists Guild has given this year – as we ask you to complete the circle and give to us.  We are celebrating Generosity All Around us, and that serves as our theme for the next few weeks.

Here are five of the ways Mint is creating generosity all around Detroit:

Our fifth Paint Detroit with Generosity show is up at Durfee Innovation Society on the first and second floors main hallway. (Photo: Vickie Elmer for Mint)

Inspiration in challenging times. Our fifth annual Paint Detroit with Generosity exhibit is up and free to see at Durfee Innovation Society in Detroit. This exhibit in Detroit gives you a place to go, safely, to walk around and be inspired before Dec. 27.  Please call ahead – 313-437-1549 for an appointment – and wear your mask.

Creativity at home for children.   Early in the pandemic, an artist-friend suggested the need for creativity kits for Detroit children. Mint immediately saw the value and connected with our stellar partners Arts & Scraps and Brilliant Detroit.  We found a sponsor MCCI to help us pay for 10,000 coloring pages – an astounding number for us to print! And thanks to the generosity of foundations and individuals and amazing work of our partners, since late March, we have given away 4,500 of them to families with children and teachers.   

Beautify Detroit. Two of our youth workers chose as their personal paid project for the summer to paint the Little Free Library in Palmer Park. Mint encouraged this as a project because our executive director always fills this Little Free Library with books. Hear about how and why they did it in this wonderful volunteer-created video.

Inspire and share:  Mint launched the first Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition to engage, inspire and connect creative youth, with lots of support from Mint board member Will “The Poet” Langford. Our prompts encouraged them to share art based on resilience, Detroit’s beauty and art as a unifying force. And with support of our community and the W.K.Kellogg Foundation, we were able to give our 11 winners some $2,400 in cash plus many prizes to young artists and poets and more.  Please listen to Ife Martins’ beautiful winning poem Silence in this post.  These artists and poets created so much beautiful art that we hope to share all of it here over the winter.

Children loved creating with Mint and some came back week after week. (Photo: Vickie Elmer for Mint)

Joy and creativity for children: Mint produced seven youth led arts and crafts in Palmer Park this summer and early fall, thanks to the Detroit Pistons and two foundations. We sent home almost 100 art supply kits and books and more.

This Generosity All Around list sounds ambitious, yet it represents less than half of the projects we have completed since mid-March.  We will share more in a couple of weeks – and we hope you will share some dollars  in a year-end gift. Please give generously.

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Meet Mint marketing intern Sydney Catton, who is cooking up new campaigns

She spent two and a half years living near Palmer Park, and first crossed paths with Mint Artists Guild at the Palmer Park Art Fair. She impressed us with her commitment to creativity and community as well as her varied marketing experience and for many coffee and tea shops.

So we hired Sydney Catton as our marketing intern for 2020-2021. “I was immediately drawn to Mint because of the work that Mint does, and because of where I’ve previously seen Mint,” she said. Her first assignments: Create a campaign for our first Paint Detroit with Generosity calendar and helping us prepare for a busy holiday selling season ahead. 

We are introducing Sydney with a question and answers as she balances Mint, making and selling coffee and her marketing studies at Wayne State University.

If you were creating a self-portrait of yourself, what colors and background imagery would you use? Why?

I would use a lot of earth tones and a lot of nature imagery. I love the outdoors. I try to be outside when ever possible. I grew up in the country – in an old apple orchard where I played outside every day. I climbed lots of trees and chased a lot of goats. I feel very connected with nature.

Who or what inspires you and builds your creativity?

When I need to rev up my creativity I listen to music, go for a run, or cook myself a new recipe. I listen to a lot of music every day. I feel most inspired by women singers from the ’60’s like Joni Mitchell, Mama Cass, and Aretha Franklin. I usually put on one of their albums and cook a new recipe that I’ve wanted to try. Cooking a new recipe really opens up my creative flow. I love how food contains different colors with so many combinations. Plus you can eat it when you are done creating it! 

So what have you cooked lately that looked and tasted delicious?

I make a lot of vegetarian shepherd’s pie during the colder months. It is the ultimate comfort food. I use lentils instead of meat and a lot of fresh thyme. I love the creamy mashed potatoes on a bed of savory veggies! 

What did working as a barista teach you about marketing and connecting to people?

Coffee brings people together; so does serving it. (Photo: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash)

Being a barista is one of my favorite things to do. It has connected me with so many people and it has taught me to be a better communicator. Every barista role that I have had, I’ve also taken on marketing duties to prepare me for when I graduate from Wayne State. I’ve also made some of my best friends from working as a barista. I am very proud to be part of the coffee community in Detroit.

Speaking of coffee, what do you drink most often when working on a project for Mint?

When I’m working on a project for Mint I’m usually drinking a coffee I brewed, probably roasted by Populace Coffee. There’s nothing better than a freshly brewed cup of coffee that’s roasted to perfection. If I’m working at a café, I’ll usually get an oat milk cortado. My favorite!

Why does Mint feel like a perfect place to launch your marketing career?

I was drawn to Mint as soon as I read about the internship. The work that

Sydney Catton is leading our calendar launch marketing campaign.

Mint does really resonated with me. I try to work for organizations that I feel passionate about. It’s easier to create a campaign that I feel connected to the work or the products that I am trying to sell. I really want to continue to feel good about my work. I feel great that Mint has allowed me to work with them!

 

Learn more about Sydney Catton and connect with her on LinkedIn. And be sure to follow Mint on Instagram and Facebook to see her upcoming social media posts and videos.

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How we are adapting our holiday shopping this year

Your holidays are going to be different this year, and so are ours.  Yet we hope you still will celebrate and give creative gifts, some from Mint’s creative Detroit youth.

We know you’re buying more of them online. This move to online purchases has accelerated since the pandemic started in the U.S. and also in Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and elsewhere.  Covid-19 took 10 years of change to online buying and brought it to Americans’ lives in three months, consulting firm McKinsey concluded. Half of Americans expect to spend more online than in stores during the holiday season.

So because of this trend and because of growing covid-19 cases, we are playing it safe and selling most of our art and artisan gifts online this year. Instead of preparing for pop ups at Eastern Market or Small Business Saturday, Mint is stocking up our online Shop with beautiful handmade artisan gifts and art.

Most of these beautiful pieces were created in the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program, which hired a record 13 youth artists during the pandemic.  Your purchases will assist us to hire even more in the summer of 2021.  Here’s two ways you may buy from Mint online this year:

Michigan Holiday Art Fair: This online art fair brings together artists who would have been part of a half dozen fairs produced by Integrity Shows.  The Michigan Holiday Art Fair previews on Nov. 29 and 30 and opens with live and recorded artist studio tours, craft making, music and Santa Claus from Dec. 1 to 6.  Mint is one of six nonprofit beneficiaries of this, and some of our Learn & Earn artists will sell original paintings, photography and more to guests.

Mint Shop online: All our merchandise is available through our website, and we continue to add new items. Look for new lithographs created in

This limited edition lithograph comes from the Mint Summer Jobs team.

the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program to be added soon – some are Detroit focused and one features a nurse. We also expect to add a beautiful new greeting card that is all Detroit. (Mint also is sending more cards this year – thank you cards and holiday cards.  Connecting with our friends and partners never felt so important or good.)

Yet we know some people will want to shop local, so Mint has merchandise in several local establishments that we adore:

  •  Akoma:   Buy our Mint cards and calendars as well as some limited edition art at this beautiful women’s art and maker cooperative at 19359 Livernois.

    Choose this beautiful assortment of Mint holiday cards.
  • Art in Motion:  Mint greeting cards and posters are available at this ceramics and clay studio and artisan gift shop at 19452 Livernois.
  • Detroit Artists Market:  Buy our holiday card packages or pick up a calendar at DAM in Midtown Detroit. Buy a piece from Mint Learn & Earn artist Prince Matthews or one of our Mint Prints.
  • Detroit Institute of Arts: The DIA has a variety of Mint cards for sale, but not our holiday cards.
  • Literati:  This bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor has Mint calendars and is available for curbside pickup only. Sorry no browsing its books and coffee because of covid.
  • Michigan Artists Exchange:  This shop in Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills is co-owned by an artist friend and located near the Nordstrom Rack. It carries holiday and regular cards and our calendars.

We may add more outlets to pick up our cards or our beautiful new Paint Detroit with Generosity calendars and when we do, we will share them here – and on Twitter and other social media.

Certainly, we will miss seeing you in person this holiday season, but we know it’s  temporary to protect everyone. Instead, we hope you will stop by the Michigan Holiday Art Fair, where Mint will lead a free craft online and where a virtual chat will connect us every day. See you Dec. 1 through 6!

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Generosity times 2: Mint shares it in an art show and in our first calendar

This 2020 Paint Detroit with Generosity piece was painted by Mint summer worker Eleanor Aro; it is our symbol for the 2020 PDWG show.

Generosity will show up in two beautiful and inspiring ways from Mint Artists Guild this fall and winter.

The first: Mint has created a calendar honoring five years of Paint Detroit with Generosity paintings donated to local causes. It gives 13 beautiful images to brighten every month of 2021.

The second: Mint is sharing 25 original paintings, created by our youth workers this summer during the pandemic, at Durfee Innovation Society.  Durfee seems like the perfect place this year because many of its tenants support children and youth; the Detroit Youth Choir practices there and it is about to open an arcade to encourage children to do well in school.  

We hope to see the paintings while the Detroit Youth Choir practices or perhaps while checking out a spirited game of wheelchair basketball in Durfee’s gymnasium and event space.  We will not have an event opening because of covid-19, however, if you have a small group and wish to book a guided tour of the 2020 Paint Detroit with Generosity show, please contact us.

Mint will donate all 2020 Paint Detroit with Generosity paintings to organizations serving children and youth. The paintings will hang in the first floor main corridor and second floor east wing; safety precautions for guests include required masks and a temperature check when entering.

Celebrate youth art, beauty and generosity throughout 2021 with Mint’s first calendar.

In our first calendar, we honor creative work by Mint summer workers and 13 local nonprofits, our partners in the Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative since 2016.  Each page contains a brief description of their mission and work along with a favorite painting Mint donated to them. Among the nonprofits featured are Arts & Scraps, Freedom House, Mercy Education Project, Mittens for Detroit and People for Palmer Park, which helps provide our wonderful studio space.  Initial funding for the calendar was provided by The Skillman Foundation, which also supports the overall Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative.

The Paint Detroit with Generosity calendar is for sale in the Mint Shop online.  Buy a calendar and  help us hire more youth next summer.

The calendar joins a growing array available from Mint this holiday season. Among the offerings are Mint greeting cards and our limited edition, archival Mint prints including the new Aretha Franklin print.

Guests may nominate a nonprofit to receive one of two abstract paintings when they visit Paint Detroit with Generosity at Durfee Innovation Society. The Mint exhibit will be up through Dec. 27; Durfee is open Monday through Saturdays.

Paint Detroit with Generosity is underwritten by Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, Culture Source, The Skillman Foundation, Grow Detroit’s Young Talents and Blossoms florists. It also is supported by individual donors.

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Delicious candy crafts to make, not eat, this fall

Get creative with fall crafts, including some with food and candy. (Photo: Bee Felten-Leidel / Unsplash)

Halloween and Thanksgiving will look different this year – perhaps very different.  Because of a global pandemic, we need to be careful and creative about how we celebrate.

Mint wants to encourage more creativity – by recommending three arts and crafts that are created with candy. Pick up the necessary sweets at a community Halloween or buy it at a supermarket or dollar store. Make sure you buy enough to munch on as you are working.

These activities are not specifically for Halloween but they could work at a Day of the Dead / Dia de los Muertos, Harvest or other celebration too.

Create a wreath using gumdrops or hard candies. (Photo: Joyful Scribblings)

Gumdrop decorator wreath – This beauty works equally well for fall, for the December holidays or a birthday.  Step by step instructions on creating it may be found on A Pretty Cool Life blog. And remember, this wreath must stay inside; outdoors and the squirrels or birds will scramble away with a sugar high.

Soda can candy bouquet – This bouquet will look great on your table and also could be a delicious gift for grandma or a teacher or neighbor with a sweet tooth. So perhaps you make two, following these instructions by Miss Kopy Kat. She is a blogger named Gayle, and she buys everything at a dollar store. Figure on spending $10 or so to make two of these sweet bouquets.

Sugar skulls often sit on an offenda during Dia de los Muertos. (Photo: Morguefile)

Sugar skulls –  These traditions come from Mexico and Latin America’s Day of the Dead celebrations. Known as Calavera, sugar skulls often are placed on ofrendas, alters to ancestors.  They work best when made with skull molds and require 24 hours to allow drying time. Follow the video instructions created by Beth Jackson Klosterboer, of Hungry Happenings (with affiliate links). Or use the simple recipe and crafty kid-friendly instructions shared by Hola Jalepeno.

Of course, we  encourage you to paint your pumpkins or ghords and collage and mosaic your candy into temporary designs, then photograph them. Please tag @mintartistsguild on your candy / creative projects.

For more ideas, check out our Pinterest on Arts and craft ideas, including some Halloween treats like witches finger cookies.  (If you make these, save some for us. We will be by to chew on them!)

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Stick with us for beautiful stickers and holiday gifts

Buy this trio of stickers together for more beauty and affirmation.

Mint Artists Guild is creating a lot of momentum in our programs and community activities. Now, we have extending that to merchandise. We just developed a new line of beautiful and inspiring stickers, all based on youth art.

We launch the first three today in our online Mint Shop.  These three stickers all are based on paintings created in the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program.  They join the Mint greeting cards and Mint prints, plus our first poster focused on social justice and a very few pieces of original art, all for sale through our website.

Stickers have become a form of self expression, creativity and caring about causes.  College students in Michigan and Virginia share their personality, passions, positivity and their love of dogs, sports, bands or travel through stickers. Stickers are placed on hotel room doors to certify the rooms are sanitized. A Dallas chef created a sticker line to celebrate friendship and her Latina culture with sugar skulls and tacos.  

Stickers have been around for decades. They started as bumper stickers to share sentiments on cars and trucks and grew to include stickers for laptops and devices, for nails, for water bottles, windows and other places.

For Mint, stickers are a way to share youth art and encourage and inspire individuals to more beauty, faith in themselves and their futures and generosity. That’s why we sell our stickers in twos or threes. So when you buy them, you have one to share and one for yourself.

Generosity, after all, is beautiful. Just like our stickers!

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Silence: Spoken word artist Ife Martin’s winning poem

We asked young poets to share their words, their passion and their perspective around the prompt of Detroit’s motto:

“We hope for better things. It shall rise from the ashes.”

Ife Martin wrote passionately about Detroit and she performed her piece on Livernois during the debut of the Mint Showcase. She is one of our 2020 Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition winners, and a high school student from West Bloomfield.

Here is a line from her poem Silence:

Our fire glows against the same moonlit sky that silhouettes our city

A beacon of hope that shines bright through the darkness

A promise – our forever flames burns.”

Poem is © Ife Martin and please see her perform it all in this video, created by Mint marketing director Kelly O’Neill:

Her piece is one of three winners who chose the “rise from the ashes” theme. Other visual pieces are on display in windows along Livernois. as the  Mint Showcase on Livernois continues through Nov. 1.

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Three beautiful questions creatives may ask and answer now

Ask yourself some very good questions to identify your purpose, your direction. (Photo by Emily Morter / Unsplash)

The world is filled with uncertainty and questions. Lots of questions and more questions.

Many of them are irrelevant or lead to nothing but fear and dead ends. Some, though, may help you see the path ahead, your future career or your most valuable contribution.

Questions power the growth of Google and the brilliance of Albert Einstein and the success of many individuals, wrote Thomas Oppong in Medium. He writes about productivity, self-improvement and achieving success.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “At a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.”  If you want some questions to ask your kid sister or a nephew, check out these 20 creative inquiries for children from Minds in Bloom.

So as we face a time of challenge and change, it is time to rev up our curiosity. Let’s start asking ourselves good questions that could lead to something beautiful. Here are three to start:

“What will your essential service be?” This question posed by media queen Oprah Winfrey during virtual college graduations asks you to consider your role in the world, how you will affect humanity.

Why are you here today?  This question could make you probe deep into your purpose in life. Or it could simply help you focus on a short-term goal or project that merits your energy and attention right now.  The here could refer to your neighborhood, your city, the world – or even your dining room table.

What will you create that shines hope or heroism, demands justice or gives aid to the powerless?  This question focuses on your creativity and how you will use it for the greater good. How will you make something that will contribute to the raising of consciousness or the reduction of racism? What wrong will you challenge or what hero will you highlight?

Use these questions as a starting point for conversations with roommates or with family. Or write about them in your journal. Doodle ideas during inktober and draw maps that lead you to a better, brighter more beautiful future.