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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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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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If I don’t have a deadline, I’m an artist and my artist brain is all over the place.

Detroit artist Marvalisa Coley, creator of the Happy Heads doll and brand, on why she writes down goals with deadlines – and a calendar nearby.