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Get ahead: Create more art that seems more timely, ahead of time

Last week’s Inauguration celebration of the United States’ first female and first Black Vice President seemed like a remarkable event, and it brought an array of images of Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden to our Instagram feeds.

Some digital, drawn or painted images were created weeks earlier in anticipation of their move to the top of American politics and others were created on the fly.  We recommended to Mint alumni Trinity Brown that she create a wire wrapped necklace similar to the one Vice President Harris wore to her swearing-in.  We suspect fabric fashion designers are recreating  the beautiful Maison Schiaparelli gold dove brooch Lady Gaga wore, signifying her hope for peace in the United States.

Then we realized that creating art that feels like it jumped from the headlines or captures the essence of our cultural experiences is a valuable trait for emerging artists to develop.  Offer art that is fresh, timely and relevant, even if you created it months or years earlier.

How do you do that? First look ahead to memorable or significant moments that resonate with you and your work. Perhaps it’s the reopening of schools after covid-19 vaccinations are widespread, or the the birthday of Rosa Parks, which we mark because of her ties to Detroit and because of our beautiful Mint print based on Mint worker / artist Bryan Wilson’s painting.

Second, set a Google Alert to be notified of news and information about your favorite subjects, those that show up in your art and imagery often. Ask for just the best results; some may provide inspiration or a reason to share your work.

Next create a calendar for yourself of events and dates that suit your

Martin Luther King Jr. collage by artist Isadora Gacel (used with permission)

creative style and interests – or buy our 2021 calendar to inspire and write them in.

If you photograph or paint beautiful buildings, note the birthdays and other significant dates of architects Albert Kahn, Norma Merrick Sklarek and Maya Lin.  If flowers and plants show up often in your images, perhaps key moments for botanist George Washington Carver or Arber or artists Georgia O’Keeffe or Claude Monet belong there. If your art springs from the fight for equality and civil rights, track important dates from Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work to the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death.

Whatever your subject, pour over media timelines and museum retrospectives for dates and events that resonate with you and your art. Look for lesser known events or people or ones that seem newly relevant.

Detail of Arise Rock’s winning triptych painting © Arise Rock

Document the Black Lives Matter movement and the demonstrations after the cruel killing of George Floyd, as Mint Youth Arts Competition winner Arise Rock did.  May 25 will be one year after Floyd died after pleading with police. Or create photos or mixed media slamming the growing gap between rich and poor, known as income or economic inequality.  Unfortunately, these images will be timely again and again.

Keep making more work that suits your cultural moments and themes. That way, when one piece sells, you may share a second and a third.  Consider which one may be powerful enough to be made into a print.

And if you think you’ve missed your moment with Vice President Harris, consider that she will have a very busy first year in office with many moments to shine. Plus she was born on Oct. 20, (1964), so that gives you plenty of time – and a clear deadline – for  creating a portrait or series of pieces about her.

© Vickie Elmer, 2021, for Mint Artists Guild

Watch for our guide to intriguing events in 2021 that may inspire your creative work. Coming up in February in the Mint blog.

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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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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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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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Forget the cape. Read these hero books for children and for all

Firefighters often are heroes, saving lives and homes. (Photo: MorgueFile)

Some heroes live in apartments and some live in stories. Some fight fires and some fight climate change or racism or sexism. Many firefighters are our heroes, especially in the wild fires in California, Oregon and elsewhere.

Books about heroes are as varied as the heroes in our Heroes: Now & Then exhibit at The Scarab Club in Detroit. (Visit Wednesdays through Sundays 12-5 pm and please wear a mask!)  Some are fiction and fairy tales and others spring from headlines of today or yesterday.

Mint asked two book shops – Book Beat in Oak Park and Pages Book Shop in Detroit – to recommend books about heroes that will appeal to children and teens. They gave us many great choices.

Book Beat recommends several books – and please order them direct here:

Words Set Me Free by Lesa Cline-Ransome.  Though born into slavery, Frederick Douglass learned something forbidden: to read and write.  This ability changed the course of his life. As a young man, Douglass escaped slavery on the Underground Railroad. His talent as an orator was noticed. His autobiography, “The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass” (read excerpts here) and his career as a lecturer and journalist made him one of the most important voices for the abolition of slavery in the United States. 

Miep and the Most Famous Diary by Meeg Pincus.  Typist Miep Gies was one of the people who sheltered Anne Frank, author of “The Diary of a Young Girl,” and her family. Though it put Gies’ life at risk, she hid them in the “Secret Annex” for two years as Nazis occupied the Netherlands. She found Anne’s diary and saved it from the Nazis after the Frank family was arrested. She wanted to return Anne’s diary to her after the war. Miep did not consider herself a hero for doing what she did, rather she claimed it was one’s “human duty.” (Read the Scholastic interview with Miep Gies to learn more.) By preserving Anne Frank’s words and sheltering her, Miep gave voice to a young girl’s dreams, shared the devastation and cruelty of war and the ways a girl coped with it.

Our House is on Fire by Jeanette Winter. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference– Greta Thunberg speeches  At school, Greta Thunberg learned

One of the recommended books about Greta Thunberg.

about the effects of climate change and became obsessed with learning more. But what could she do? She always felt invisible. At 15, she decided to protest each Friday at the Parliament Building in Stockholm.  She was joined by other children from around the world. She was invited to speak about climate change at the United Nations Climate Summit and World Economic Forum , and her words inspired a worldwide children’s march. Today Greta Thunberg leads the world to confront climate change and the problems it creates.

Follow Greta on Instagram and read about her too.

Pages Bookshop recommends three books about heroes, including another book about Greta Thunberg. Order them online here using the search box:

Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl who went on Strike to Save the Planet by Valentina Camerini. Greta Thunberg is a teenager who has shown the world that no one is too young to make a difference. This biography is great for 8-12 year olds who are interested in what small steps they can take to make change and what other folks are doing on climate change.

Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote by Kirsten Gillibrand. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, this picture book biography introduces children to 10 women who worked in a variety of ways to help secure women’s right to vote. Through their stories, learn about the many fights involved in making the voting process inclusive for everyone, a right still being fought for today. This book is written by a U.S. Senator from New York.

Pages recommends this book for older youth.

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana with Abigail Pesta. The author survived a massacre in the Democratic Republic of Congo when she was a child, but not all of her family survived with her. Uwiringiyimana  fled to America as a refugee and became involved in art and activism as a way to connect to community and process what she went through. Pages recommends this book for ages 13 and up.

Both Pages and Book Beat offer curb-side pick-up of books. When you order, please tell them Mint Artists Guild sent you.  And please take time to see our Heroes: Now & Then before Oct. 10 when it closes at The Scarab Club.

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Meet us on Livernois for so much creativity and connection

This mural on Livernois featuring Stevie Wonder was painted by artist Michael Owen.

In a fashionable move into one of the most creative neighborhoods in Detroit, Mint will spend most of October on Livernois.

Known as the Avenue of Fashion, the mile-long strip of Livernois between Seven and Eight Mile roads houses a half dozen art galleries and a similar number of creative businesses, murals by local and national artists, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, which dates back to 1933, and an array of restaurants, many of them Black owned.   Newer restaurants including Kuzzo’s and Bucharest Grill have opened in recent years as well as boutiques offering make up, hats or shoes.

Why are we arranging this month long series on Livernois? First and foremost because we believe the art created by youth deserves to be seen and celebrated in Detroit. But also Mint knows that Black businesses have struggled in the pandemic and many need to connect with new customers.  It is near our home in Palmer Park, so we spend lots of time there. And Livernois has been good to us, with businesses there supporting us since we were a tiny baby nonprofit.  We also are grateful to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for support of the Youth Arts Competition this year.

Here is our schedule of events for the first Mint Showcase:

Friday, Oct. 2 – The Mint Showcase on Livernois debuts 4 – 6 pm, with an opportunity to meet some of our Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition winners.   Mint will unveil its new Michigan Influential Woman limited edition giclee’ print at Sherwood Forest Art Gallery at 5:30 pm; a piece that follows in Mint’s Rosa Parks print.

Saturday, Oct. 3 – Mint Showcase continues. Buy youth art, see artist demonstrations, hear their stories. Artists will pop up in four businesses from 12 – 5 pm. Hear the spoken word poem of Youth Arts Competition winner Ife Martin outside Jo’s Gallery Cafe at around 1:30 pm

Saturday, Oct. 17 – The Mint Art Walk is a beautiful outdoor benefit that introduces you to artists and Black businesses along Livernois. Tickets cost $15 each, or $35 for VIP tickets which include gifts from Mint.  Guests may join a small guided group at 10 am or 1:30 pm, or take a self-guided walk if they prefer.  Future Mint Art Walks will take place in Eastern Market, Midtown Detroit and the Palmer Park area.

Saturday, Oct. 31 – Halloween arts and crafts, 11 am – 1:30 pm . Come get creative in or in front of two Livernois businesses. Masks are required and costumes encouraged.

So we want to introduce art lovers to four businesses that have supported our nonprofit for years:

This beautiful sun painting is the symbol of the Mint Showcase. It was painted in the Mint Summer Jobs program by worker Alexis Bagley.

  • Akoma – Akomaa creative women’s cooperative is led by artist Mandisa Smith, a talented fiber artist. It is opening in the space that was Detroit Fiber Works.  Akoma will carry some Mint greeting cards and our first poster during the Mint Showcase.
  • Art in Motion – This clay studio, gift shop and creative co-working space offers classes and workshops for children and all ages. It is led by Kay Willingham, who worked as a mosaic teaching artist with Mint  two summers ago. Art in Motion will carry some Mint merchandise during the Showcase.
  • Jo’s Gallery –  Established 25 years ago, Jo’s Gallery sells and promotes local and national artists’ work, jewelry, home decor and framing. It also hosts pop-ups at its Jo’s Gallery Cafe and is led by Garnette Archer, the second-generation owner.
  • Sherwood Forest Art Gallery – Sherwood Forest frames art – lots of it. And it creates high quality artist prints too, for many artists from Judy Bowman to Mint Artists Guild. It sells African artifacts and African American art, local and national. It is owned by a father and son, both former firefighters.

We also will have art in the windows of the soon-to-open Motor City Brewing Works on Livernois. And we are open to collaborating with other Livernois businesses that provide real support to our youth-development and creative careers nonprofit.  Please contact us today if you’d like to join in the creativity and opportunities.

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Sydney G. James’ big, excellent advice for emerging artists

Sydney G. James near one of her many murals. (Photo: © Bre’Ann White)

Her Malice Green mural in Highland Park, completed in just a few days after months of sitting on the couch during the covid-19 pandemic, was until recently, her latest completed work. It also was her first male figure in “forever.”

Sydney G. James had missed working on the big murals, and she sees big public art pieces as her perfect canvas. Almost all of them depict women of color, often women she knows.

Now  James is finishing something even bigger – a mural in the North End of Detroit loosely based on the Vermeer painting Girl with a Pearl Earring.  James’ Girl with the D earring is approximately 9 stories tall, painted on the Chroma building developed by The Platform.

She is documenting her team’s mural creation on Instagram, but is clear the work comes first. She expects to finish it in about six days, lightning speed especially during a pandemic.

“Produce, produce and then promote.” Put in the work and develop a work ethic, she advised the 13 Mint Artists this summer.

“If you take a job for 50 cents or $5 million, the work should be identical. That’s your currency. That’s still an advertisement for you.”

Sydney James painting a mural on Schaefer Highway in 2017. (Photo: Quicken Loans)

“Each new piece better be better than the last,” James said. That should be your intention. “Don’t make ugly shit.”

Then turn to your artist’s social media and promotion. Use great hashtags and follow exceptional artists. “Follow dope artists from around the world,” she recommended. James was one of five guest artists to talk to the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program.

James shared some of her career journey since graduating from College for Creative Studies in 2001.  She worked in advertising, as a ghost artist on a television show in Los Angeles and taught art in school. Now she’s all in on murals and has painted them in Atlanta, Hawaii, New Orleans, Ghana and many in Detroit, including a number of years with Murals in the Market.

She  believes artists must be willing to say no to clients who will be a pain in the neck or want you to change colors three times. “You got to figure out how you want to plant and where you want to plant your seeds,” she said.

(Photo by Bre’Ann White used with permission.)