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Why we are orchestrating a virtual art fair

The popular Palmer Park Art Fair is not happening this year.

This year is different – so different.

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 knew little about virtual art events before we started, though our project director Kelly O’Neill had participated in one planned by The Guild.  She is on Mint’s board of directors and creates beautiful sculpture and other pieces from recycled metals.

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.

This photograph by Mint Alumni Omari June is part of our fair. It is called Frozen in Time – and we are the opposite of that.

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.

Join us on Saturday as we open a beautiful new door.

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Final four emerging artists at the Palmer Park Art Fair

© Oluwaseyi Akintoroye
© Selene Craddock

Mint Artists will have a full tent at the Palmer Park Art Fair this weekend.  We’ve been introducing you to our emerging artists bit by bit, blog post by blog post.

Here are the final four, who we hope you come buy and buy from in person on June 1 or 2:

Oluwaseyi Akintoroye creates photographs of nature, and increasingly of people and scenes from Detroit and around Michigan. She also sometimes works in water color or acrylic paints and she attends Cass Tech.

Selene Craddock makes felted animals that look very lifelike – from lambs to butterflies and elephants.  Appropriately enough, the CASA and Clawson High School student will work at the Detroit Zoo this summer.

Jessica Fligger is new to Mint, and also lives fairly close to Palmer Park. She creates both paintings and ceramic tiles and pieces, and works with Mint Ambassador Barbara Barefield as her mentor.

Lia Massey is graduating from Cass Technical High School this year. She designs and creates original fashions and gowns (including the prom dress shown) and paintings of women wearing fashion apparel.

Meet all our artists in person – and buy their beautiful work at the Palmer Park Art Fair ! Hours are Saturday 10-7 and Sunday 11-5.

Prom dress by Lia Massey
© Jessica Fligger
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Meet this trio of Mint Artists at the Palmer Park Art Fair

© Eleanor Aro
© Journey Shamily

Today we introduce you to two newcomers to Mint Artists Guild and one artist, who at 16, is a seasoned pro.

Eleanor Aro joined Mint in 2017, and has been going and growing ever since then. She attends Western, paints mostly cityscapes in watercolor and acrylics. Her work has sold at a the Detroit Artists Market gala and many fairs.

Journey Shamily joined Mint last fall, and has been at a couple of Mint pop ups with us with her digital art. Home schooled, Journey mainly likes to depict women.

Kamiri Williams is new to Mint, and is a digital artist who likes cartooning and showing. She attends Arts Academy in the Woods and this is her first fine art fair.

These three are our third trio of artists featured in the blog previewing the Palmer Park Art Fair. Read about Trinity, Anne and Alexis in this post and about our second trio of artists, all from Cass Tech.  And most importantly, come by and buy from all the artists June 1 or 2 in Palmer Park.

© Kamiri Williams
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Second trio of Mint Artists attend Cass Tech; that’s where similarity ends

© Prince Matthews
© Dawāyna. Banks

These three Mint Artists all attend Cass Technical High School – and yet they got to know each other through Mint.  All three will be in our group tent June 1 and 2 at the Palmer Park Art Fair.

They are:

Dawāyna Banks  draws and works in digital arts, often showing people, in love or in other emotions.  Dawāyna is heading to Michigan State University in the fall, and plans a career as an animator or graphic designer.

Prince Matthews creates appealing abstract paintings using acrylics, alcohol, salt and other tools.  Quiet and hard working,  Prince recently had his work in the professional show All Together Now, and was introduced to the curator by Mint.

De’Shaia Ventour  works magic with duct tape, creating flower pens, accessories – and original art canvases.  Smiling and organized, De’Shaia has an entrepreneurial approach to art, and she recently joined the Mint board of directors.

Read about the first three artists featured in this post. And watch for more posts about the rest of our 13 Mint Learn and Earn artists who will have such a wide variety of work for sale June 1 and 2 at the Palmer Park Art Fair.

© De’Shaia Ventour
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Meet three Mint Artists and buy their work at Palmer Park

© Anne Kinney
© Trinity Brown

We are less than a month away from the Palmer Park Art Fair on June 1 and 2. And all our artists are working diligently to create work, plan their displays and prepare to show and sell their work during the juried boutique art fair

Palmer Park Art Fair is one of Mint’s two largest events of the year – and we invite you to attend.

So to whet your appetite, we have a series of blog posts that introduce the 13 or so artists who will be in our group tent.  Here’s three artists to start:

Trinity Brown creates wire wrapped jewelry using copper and sterling silver wire and semi precious stones. She has been active with Mint for several years and now serves on our board of directors. (Read her advice to artists on preparing for a big event in our blog.)

Anne Kinney is new to Mint, and she paints beautiful florals using water color, and sometimes pastels, charcoal or other mediums. She attends Clawson High School and has been an active volunteer, helping out at craft shows and more.

Alexis Wright attends Cass Technical High School and intends to go to Wayne State University in the fall. She works in digital art and acrylic painting. Alexis created the popular marbled paper at our youth-led art workshops.

These three artists and another 10 are working hard to prepare for their first fine art fair,  or in Trinity’s case her 10th plus. So please meet them in person and support their creative entrepreneurship on June 1 or 2!

© Alexis Wright