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.
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!
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 & Thenexhibit 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.
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 Diaryby 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 Fireby Jeanette Winter. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference– Greta Thunberg speeches At school, Greta Thunberg learned
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.
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 Voteby 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.
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.
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:
Akoma – Akoma, a 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.
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.
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.
In challenging times, the world needs heroes. We invite you to find one in these small portraits created by Mint Artists Guild.
These 15 small paintings will carry a big impact. And as the exhibit’s title Heroes: Now & Then reminds us, heroes may not be heroic every day. Occasional heroes and unknown heroes also deserve celebration.
Each portrait was created by a Detroit youth artist working for Mint during the pandemic, working from their homes. They chose their own heroes – and they are a diverse group from many eras and from today’s headlines.
The show debuts this Wednesday, Sept. 2, at the Scarab Club and will be up through Oct. 10.
The Heroes: Now & Then show shares at least three lesser known heroes:
Willem Arondeus, a Dutch writer, artist and activist, joined the resistance against the Nazis. His main job was to falsify papers for Jews in the Netherlands. Painted by Mint summer worker Vianca Romero, Arondeus saved hundreds or perhaps thousands of Jews from death, only to be executed himself. His final days are the subject of a short historical film called Willem.
Woman from the Gulabi Gang. Started in Northern India in 2006, this group of women activists protect other women from domestic abuse, violence and the patriarchal system. Gulabi means pink in Hindi. “I get a lot of respect and dignity when I wear the pink sari,” says Maya Davy, a mother of five told the CBC. Painted by Mint summer worker Zora Flourony, some Gulabi Gang members now drive taxis, taking on that male bastion.
Note that we are not sharing images these portraits in our blog because we really want people to go to The Scarab Club to see them. The show is upstairs in its beautiful and historic building, next to the plein air paintings. Plus the main exhibit is photographs, so now we’ve shared three reasons to visit. (The Scarab Club is open 12 to 5 Wednesday through Sunday, and has a small parking at 217 Farnsworth, Detroit, directly behind the DIA.)
After you’ve visited our heroes, please wander a couple of blocks to Hannan Center to see our Abuela, Grandma, Bibi exhibit through Sept. 30. (It is closed weekends.) Because of covid-19 limits and safety protections, please call Hannan ahead to reserve; 313-833-1300 x. 0. Or head to the DIA Museum Store or the Detroit Artists Market and buy Mint greeting cards.
Please subscribe to our blog. In a future post, Mint will recommend hero books for children and teens, books mostly selected by independent bookstore staff.
They live in Detroit, of course, and Hamtramck, Holly and Fraser. They work in crayons, acrylic or watercolor paint, ink and many other mediums. Their creativity and work are as fresh as the latest headlines – and as timeless as the puppy who is part of one child’s picture.
They are the eleven winners of the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition, winners, winners whose diversity and creativity make them wonderful representations of Detroit and of Mint Artists Guild’s hopes and expectations.
“We hope for better things, in Detroit. We rise from the ashes, each day, to build our communities. The Youth Arts Competition is a manifestation of our uniquely Detroit spirit of hustle and hope,” said Will ‘The Poet’ Langford. Langford worked with Mint co-founder Vickie Elmer to hustle to launch and develop the competition, starting in June. They both serve on Mint’s board of directors.
The winners range from kindergarden to college and chose a wide variety of subjects for their art and poetry. Mint intends to share more of their stories and work in future blog and social media posts, so here briefly are our 2020 winners:
Moumita Chawdhury, 18, Hamtramck, “Unifying, The Hope of a New Beginning,” oil pastels and colored pencils from Bangladesh.
Ishaan Kundapur, 13, Northville. “Beautiful Detroit: Birthplace of the Auto Industry,” water color. (Mint greeting card winner)
Sydney Lenn, 17, Fraser. “No Justice, No Peace.” Black and white photograph.
Ife Martin, 16, West Bloomfield. Silence. Spoken word poem.
Tahlia Ray, 16, Detroit. “Unity.” Fiber art.
Arise Elisabeth Rock, 15, Detroit. “The Ascension” three-part acrylic painting. And City of People, poem. (Yes, she won twice, though the judges did not know that.)
Justus Smith, 10, Detroit. “Rising from the Ashes.” Mixed media piece.
Fae Taylor, 6, Hazel Park. “The Daytime.” Mixed media with crayons.
Fiona Taylor, 5, Hazel Park. “Puppy’s eyes.” Mixed media with paint. (Yes they are sisters and yes, the puppy piece is adorable!)
Several of the pieces reflected the Black Lives Matter movement or the covid-19 crisis that engulfed the world and how art brings us together in trying times. Others shared the beauty of Detroit, with its leafy trees and lovely streets. About a third of the winners created based on each of our three themes: Detroit is beautiful, art as a unifier and Detroit’s “we rise from the ashes” motto.
Winners were chosen by current Mint Artists, our alumni, professional artists and writers and two of Mint’s co-founders. All of the winning art will be professionally framed by Jo’s Gallery or Sherwood Forest Art Gallery. And all the winners receive a prize package and $225 in cash prizes, underwritten by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and individual donors. Then the art will go on display in Detroit at our partner businesses and at a Mint Showcase along Livernois, known as “the Avenue of Fashion.” Our two poetry winners will share their spoken word in public too. (Winners will receive their art back by yearend to hang in their place of honor. Follow Mint on Facebook or Instagram for details on showings.)
“We want to celebrate youth creativity and business generosity in a competition focused on Detroit’s beauty and resilience and on art as a unifying influence in today’s challenging world,” said Elmer.
When we leap into something new and big, it helps to bring along an optimist and a make-magic-happen person like Will Langford.
Known as Will The Poet, he has a history of helping Mint and our young artists. And he also served as the voice of Michigan State University’s “Empower Extraordinary” campaign. He will use his positive energies and extraordinary network in Detroit to lead Mint in a new initiative: the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition. It launched this week and runs through Aug. 4.
He was the first and best choice when Mint executive director Vickie Elmer came up with the idea to create a competition to engage and encourage children to be creative in these challenging times. He immediately said yes.
“I’ve engaged in the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition because I believe that Detroit is wealthy beyond our wildest dreams—in that our youth bear such light, intellect, and sheer talent,” said Langford. “And Detroit is home to that undeniably spirit of hustle and hope, because when I look around me, I see artists, educators, parents, business owners, and co-conspirators who are committed to the growth of the Motor City.”
Children and youth who are age 21 or younger, as of Aug. 4, and live in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in Michigan are encouraged to create visual art or poetry based on the three prompts Will wrote.
Those prompts and a lot of other information about the Youth Arts Competition are available on our website. Completed poetry and art also may be uploaded there.
Will Langford is a Detroit native, a poet, teaching artist, and Fulbright scholar. He is the 2017 Motown Mic Spoken Word Artist of the Year. He divides his energy between education and community development projects in his hometown, East Africa, and the East Lansing area, where he is a Ph.D. student at Michigan State in curriculum Instruction and teacher education.
Will joined the Mint board of directors in January. Yet he already is well known as an active Mint supporter, a volunteer and ambassador who buys Mint art.
His idea for blackout poetry was featured in the Mint blog series Creative Ideas for Challenging Times. And since Mint regularly brings poetry into its Creative Summer Jobs program, it was easy and smart to add poems to our competition this summer.
Now Will is working to bring in businesses and nonprofits that believe in children and creativity and will donate prizes, awards cash or promotion to our competition. He and Mint have landed some beauties including Arts & Scraps, Avalon International Breads, Confident Brands, Jo’s Gallery, North End Customs, Sherwood Forest Art Gallery and others. We welcome your organization to join us in this joyful initiative; email us at email@example.com if you’re interested.
And we hope that you or your children, grandchildren, nieces, cousins, siblings, best friends, roommates and others who are 21 or less will enter the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition. Will cannot wait to see what you write, draw or create!
Gil Ashby figures he has mentored thousands of young people, through his career at College for Creative Studies and outside it.
The illustrator joined CCS in 1999, and was its first African American department chair. Ashby always strives to give mentees “the notion that they have power within themselves,” he told an audience at the Detroit Institute of Arts in February. He appeared with one of his mentees, and with artist Hubert Massey, one of Mint’s co-founder.
Ashby has an impressive track record of illustrating graphic novels and children’s books and more. Read more about him in the Society of Illustrators award and feature. He has helped many CCS students with their careers.
So how does an emerging artist in Detroit land a mentor? Mint asked Ashby and the DIA panel. Here are five answers, two of them from Ashby and the rest we added ourselves:
“Be curious,” Ashby said. Ask questions at panels and webinars. Seek new information and new people. Read up on the speakers beforehand. All this will make you a standout.
Be kind. Your chances of landing a mentor improve if you volunteer regularly because you will meet new people. They also improve if you bring homemade cookies to the meet-up, or offer to help your teacher after class. People are more likely to help those who are helpful.
Get out there. “Go where the action is,” Ashby said. Now that things are opening up again, show up at gallery openings, at artist talks and creative group meetings and “that person will reveal himself.” Or try Creative Mornings, the Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club or a university club or organization.
Know what you need. Identify the essential insights or assistance you hope to gain. A mentor could help you hone your artist’s statement or search for a job. You may want a mentor who can help you set up a website, or connect you to the decision makers at an influential museum. Or maybe you want someone who has a studio full of tools and equipment. Be clear what you are seeking and ask for a short – 15 to 30 minute – conversation about it.
Search online. Seek mentoring organizations and organizations local, national and international. Re:create offers free virtual mentoring for graphic designers, creative directors and more. Detroit has many youth mentoring organizations, some based on athletics or geography or other topics. Search the National Mentoring Partnership’s database to find one. Or look on LinkedIn and spend some time creating your professional network too.
Many many art fairs have been canceled or postponed since March, when states and countries began closing down to protect individuals from COVID-19. Mint Artists Guild artists are not able to sell at the Palmer Park Art Fair and others are in jeopardy this summer.
Our artists have missed out on at least four pop ups, including one in the historic Alger Theater on Detroit’s East Side.
And yet we knew that our artists had been making art during their shelter at home time. They have worked hard – and some of them are working peacefully to confront racism and unfair treatment. Many face big bills ahead as they prepare to head to the University of Michigan, Georgia State University, College for Creative Studies and elsewhere in the fall.
So Mint Artists Guild is jumping into the unknown by creating its first ever Virtual Art Fair this Saturday, June 6. Please register here, and invite your friends. Plan to buy something for your Dad, your grad or yourself. Or plan a brunch and invite in three friends and munch and watch and buy. The Virtual Art Fair will stream live on our Facebook page and also on our YouTube channel.
We want our young artists to sell their work on Saturday – or through the next week. Yet we know that times are tight and so we need to seek other benefits and possibilities from creating this new event. Here are three of them.
Connect. This new online format gives us wider reach well beyond the Michigan border. With a virtual fair, buyers may live in Dallas or the Mississippi Delta, Queens or Quebec. Our Mint greeting cards could end up in a gallery in San Francisco or Sanabel Island and so could artists Michael Johnson or Omari June Norman. We think this is important for all artists to grow their audience and connect in new cities.
Learn. We knew our artists could learn a lot by preparing for the Mint Virtual Art Fair. So we created a workshop that taught them to create an artist studio tour video and to share some of their tricks and techquines. Their videos are an integral part of the fair – and will be valuable to them for future events too. We are helping them refine their pricing of their art. They are learning too how to focus on and manage multiple priorities: school, their creative work, family needs and for some, Black Lives Matter and other peaceful campaigns.
“I always want to stay focused on who I am, even as I’m discovering who I am,” singer Alicia Keys has said. She’s not performing on Saturday but we have two other amazing musicians who will: Sky Covington and Mahogany Jones.
Pivot. We want Mint to model adaptability and an entrepreneurial ability to seek out new and different opportunities. We may not know as much about the digital world as Microsoft, Netflix or Quicken Loans, but we can develop an online sales platform and create new ways of connecting with people through art and storytelling.
You will meet them all the artists on Saturday, so today I will just tell you that they are wonderful and creative and work in a wide variety of mediums: duct tape, oil paint, photography, mixed media, sterling silver wire and acrylic paint. Every day we are adding new pieces of their work to the Mint Shop. Yes, everything already is for sale – and our seven artists and alumni receive almost all the proceeds. Mint takes a 20 percent commission, one of the lowest among nonprofits in Michigan, and charges no fees to join our programs.
“The pessimist seems difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty,” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill one said. We are the optimists who know that this time, so difficult and horrifying and uncertain, will open doors and create new paths for Mint and for our artists.
It’s time to explore the world, to meet artists and to share our rainbows of everyday or surprising objects .
This week’s Creativity for Challenging Times episode features three ways to add a little joy and newness into your life. For more ideas, we recommend going back to the first one or second one to score some other ideas.
Here’s our new projects in episode nine:
Doodle. Set your timer for 30 or 35 minutes and just daydream with your pencil. Draw anything and everything that comes to mind. At the end of that time, head to Doodlers Anonymous or a similar drawing site to join communities and drawing challenges. Challenge yourself to doodle for an hour a day – or 30 minutes if your schedule is slammed – every day for a week.
Rainbow scavenger hunt. This idea from Living Arts teacher Stephanie Mae works as a competition between siblings or a challenge among art friends. Gather many items – in the rainbow of colors. Then group them and pose them and photograph them. Post your work and be sure to tag Mint and Living Arts.