“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
Picture a summer job and you may imagine something quaint and outdoorsy: a life guard, camp counselor, caddy or park attendant. Or perhaps you recall your first summer job scooping Italian ice, mowing lawns or fixing fast food.
Yet for many teens, paid work is more likely to be imaginary than real, despite many benefits these jobs bring. Only about a third of teens worked for pay in 2018, and that has trended down for two decades, according to the Pew Research Center. The employment rate is likely to tumble further this year, as record unemployment and businesses closed during the pandemic will mean less hiring for young people. “Paid jobs are scarcer than a Stanford admission,” The Washington Post reported recently.
Mint Artists Guild is an exception, hiring 30 percent more young artists from Detroit and creating more opportunities for work in Detroit. We do this because the need is great and so is the payoff for those hired and their communities. Summer jobs create many positive outcomes, some immediate and some years after the last campfire or painting is finished. Here’s a look at benefits documented by many academic and other researchers:
Opportunities grow. Summer jobs may increase college aspiration and community engagement and they definitely reduce inequality, researchers found.
Safer cities. Several studies showed reductions in violent crime by up to 43 percent among youth participating in summer jobs, and jobs also lower rates of incarceration in another study. The reduction in youth crime lasted for 15 months after the summer job ended.
Wellbeing improves. Youth or adults who are employed experience boosts in wellbeing, self-esteem and life satisfaction, just by working eight hours a week. Researchers also note they are more likely to get through trying circumstances than others.
Future earnings. Working during college, whether part-time or full-time, leads to to higher earnings after graduation. This research by Rutgers University and others is based on 160,000 students; jobs add to students’ networks, skills and post-college paychecks. The amount varied from $1,035 to $20,625. But the post-college premium showed up for a wide variety of students, regardless of their race, type of university or previous work experience.
Academic achievement rises. In the year after summer jobs in Boston, researchers calculated a “small but significant” improvement in GPAs. Young workers were also more likely to graduate from high school on time. Academic improvements were “particularly large” when youth in New York were hired for several summers in a row. “Participating in summer jobs programming for multiple years pays dividends for high school students well beyond the paycheck itself,” New York University researchers wrote.
Mint’s summer creative jobs program teaches productivity and professionalism as well as painting and artistic skills. We will create original paintings for our fifth annual Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative. This year, the jobs will take place from youth homes, as required by our partner Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, and will feature new online workshops on managing clients, writing an artist statement and digital work etiquette.
If you want to support our Lucky 13 artists, we invite you to donate to our spring fundraiser – or become a monthly donor now.
We wish for a meaningful and beautiful summer. And with this summer wish list, you could help us achieve it for Mint Artists Guild and our Lucky 13 artists.
The Lucky 13 will work for us creating paintings for our Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative as well as prints and our first coloring book. They will mainly work virtually, from their homes this year, because of precautions for covid-19.
Here are the art supplies we seek for the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program:
sketchbooks or journal
Stretched canvas – especially 8 x 10 inches or 18 x 24 inches, though any size welcome
medium or heavy body acrylic paints, small to medium tubes
assorted acrylic paint brushes
varnish for paintings, such as Grumbacher
pronto plates for lithography, 8.5 X 11 inches
oil based ink
brayers – need seven of them
Rives printing paper
easels and table easels, new or used
small frames 8 x 10 or 11 x 12 for our Mint prints
These art supplies may be new or gently used. And here are the other supplies we need this summer and fall:
paper towels, 15 rolls
hand soap, bars or liquid
granola bars, dried fruit, trail mix (smaller bags) and other nonperishable snacks that youth ages 14 to 21 will enjoy
gift card to Meijer, Costco or supermarkets = artist snacks and treats
gift card to local cafes and restaurant, as rewards for our best artists and artist supporters
To arrange a delivery of art supplies, please drop us a line and propose three days and times that work for you. We ask that you drop them off at the Mint Studios in Palmer Park, right next to the Splash Park.
This year as unemployment soars, Mint Artists Guild is doubling down on summer jobs and hiring more creative youth. You may help create more meaningful opportunities with a double the donation spring fundraiser.
Instead of hiring ten aspiring artists, Mint will recruit, support and develop 13 youth this summer. That’s up 30 percent from last year.
We call them the Lucky 13 summer artists, and they all live in Detroit and are hired in partnership with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, the city youth employment program.
It’s better to be versatile and the Mint program helps you with that,” said Mint Artists’ Michael Johnson.
He worked for Mint last summer where he developed skills in acrylic painting and mosaic making. (Read our survey results that document
major skills our 2019 team gained.) Michael especially liked the collaborative paintings created in small groups and he expects to return to the Lucky 13 this year.
Watch our Facebook and Instagram to hear directly from our young artists as our fundraiser unfolds. They videotaped themselves sharing what they learned, why Mint matters and why you should donate to our fundraiser.
Our spring fundraiser has a beautiful bonus: Every $1 an individual or business gives is matched with a dollar from ioby, a nonprofit fundraising portal, and its backers. So please give today before the double the donation money runs out.
Your doubled up gift creates waves of goodness and generosity. Through your donation, we will hire two teaching artists, create another piece of public art for Palmer Park and a coloring book. If circumstances allow, Mint will run free weekly arts and crafts in Palmer Park. And all that comes on top of our fifth annual Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative, which this year focuses on nonprofits serving children and youth.
Mint Artists Guild looks forward to meeting many new artists each spring, as we hold Open Interviews for our Creative Summer Jobs program. We strive to be open to all and transparent about how we run Mint. And we prepare youth and their families with information – such as interview tips and more.
With all that in mind, we are sharing some frequently asked questions and answers about tour Summer Jobs program, ahead of our interviews in April.
1. What programs support Mint Creative Summer Jobs program?
Mint hires most of its young workers through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, or GDYT, the city’s youth jobs portal. So you must register with GDYT first. Mint also hires through Wolverine Pathways, a University of Michigan program that enrolls high potential students from Detroit, Southfield and Ypsilanti.
2. What does Mint look for in hiring young people for summer jobs?
We look for talented visual artists who are serious about their creative work and the possibility of a creative career. You must demonstrate artistic skills, passion and desire to learn more. And attitude counts for a lot. We want hard working, optimistic, thoughtful and constantly-learning youth. We also seek individuals who are altruistic and want to help others. Send us your work or links to it when you first contact us. And bring samples to your interview.
3. What other criteria are there for becoming a Mint Summer Worker?
Our program hires youth ages 14 to 21, who are that age by June 15. We know GDYT goes to 24 and we eventually may grow our program for artists with more experience. For now, Mint focuses on teens and early college, most of whom live in Detroit. Artists must be interviewed in person at the Mint Studios to be considered. Open interviews are scheduled for April 7, April 18 and April 24.
We will schedule other interview dates in May too. Because of the stay home / stay safe orders, our interviews are moved to Zoom or Google Hangouts. Please email us if you wish to be included and be sure to tell us about yourself and your best skills.
4. What’s it like to work for Mint in the summer?
Artists work in a creative space, a studio, surrounded by creative people. And they have projects and deadlines, and are expected to participate in exercises to build their productivity, focus and painting and mosaic making skills.
We create together and independently, some serious work and some just for the joy and experience like our pal Sloopy, made at the end of the 2019 program. Mint Artists create paintings, mosaics, linoleum cut prints, coloring pages, arts and crafts activities and other creative work as assigned, with support from professional artists and our teaching artist Ms. Jacquie,
We work five or six hours a day, often in the afternoons or early evenings, from July 6 to late August. Most workers generally get their full 120 hours allowed by GDYT, in six or seven weeks, though some ask for compressed schedules and some need an extra week or so. We are flexible!
5. And young artists are paid for this, to paint and create?
Yes! Pay is set by GDTY – ranging from $8.25 to $10 an hour, depending on age and title – and by Wolverine Pathways. Pay is every other week. Pay for hours or work beyond those covered by GDTY is negotiated with each artist and covered by Mint.
Because artists are paid and Mint buys all art supplies, all the art and imagery created in the Mint Summer Jobs program belongs to Mint Artists Guild. That’s the way it works at most businesses and nonprofits too. We encourage our young artists to photograph and share work created in their digital portfolio as work created while working for Mint Artists Guild. Mint donates many of the paintings to other nonprofits through our Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative.
6. What will artists learn through Mint Summer Jobs?
Artists definitely improve their acrylic painting skills. And they learn to create a mosaic, such as the beautiful butterflies that now hang in Palmer Park. They learn to be more focused and productive. They improve their communications skills and confidence, too, according to our surveys of participants. And they do all this while earning money and creating art for the community.
7. What are the goals of Mint’s summer jobs program?
Mint has set five goals for this program:
Improve productivity and build skills.
Develop skills artists need to work for clients such as multiple ideas, listening.
Give back through community service.
Raise reputations – our own and our artists.
We also work with artists in our program to set one goal for themselves and measure their progress.
8. How can I support Mint Artists Guild?
Producing a high-quality summer jobs program takes plenty of support from individuals and businesses. So please donate now – and make it a monthly donation if you are able. If you wish to commission some work from us, please be in touch with Mint executive director Vickie Elmer about your idea by mid-April.
We will launch a spring fundraiser specifically to support the 13 or 14 jobs we will create this summer; watch for news on that on our Facebook and Instagram within a few weeks. And we always need art supplies, especially canvases and acrylic paints
9. Where may I learn more about your work?
Mint shares information here on our blog and through this wonderful volunteer-created website. We even have frequently asked questions with answers here. So please browse those and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If you’re still curious, please send us more questions to answer!
And we hope some of you – or your offspring, nieces and nephews and grandchildren – will want to join us and will interview with Mint in April.