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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.

Paint Detroit with Generosity exhibit

Our fifth annual Paint Detroit with Generosity exhibit will take place from Nov. 11 through Dec. 27 at the Durfee Innovation Society.

Durfee is a small business and nonprofit incubator space that offers many activities for children and youth. Guests must wear masks and have their temperatures taken before coming in to see the Mint art on the first and second floors.

Hours are Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 7 pm and Saturday 11 to 5.

Guests may nominate a local child-serving nonprofit to receive two of the Paint Detroit with Generosity paintings.

Painting shown was created by Mint Summer Worker Eleanor Aro, and is © Mint Artists Guild, 2020.

Mint Summer jobs interviews 3

Free arts and crafts in Palmer Park, summer 2018. (Photo © Vickie Elmer)

If you are interested in working for Mint Artists Guild this summer, start by registering with Grow Detroit’s Young Talents.

Then show up, with your resume, references and at least three work samples, for an interview with Mint. Your interview will take 20-30 minutes and you may bring a parent or relative, though that person will not be part of the interview.

This is the last of our three April interview dates. All hiring will be finished by May 15.

For interview tips, read this Mint blog post.

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Meet Mint Artists jeweler and board member Trinity

Trinity Brown at a Mint pop up in Eastern Market, December 2019. (Photo: Vickie Elmer)

Trinity Brown learned wire wrapping herself while on a break from dancing, following tips on a YouTube video.  She had had surgery on her back for scoliosis. She started doing shows at 13 and soon joined Mint, the youngest artist to start in our Learn and Earn program.  

She is a senior at University High School Academy in Southfield, where she’s on the varsity tennis team, captain of the UHSA Dance Co. and the Student Congress.  She worked as a Wolverine Pathways intern for Mint over the summer. And she also has served on Mint Artists Guild’s board of directors for two years.

She sets a goal for how much she intends to sell at each show.  And in 2019, she applied for and participated in the Ann Arbor Art Fair. 

“Mint has taught me everything I need to turn my art into a career…. Mint means everything to me and my art,” said Trinity.

She established the Curved Emerging Artists Show in 2018, with support and coaching by Mint and two of its cofounders. It has grown to almost 50 artists in 2019. 

She is known for wire wrapping during board meetings, Mint events and anywhere. And she’s the artist who wants to create and sell more jewelry – and help other artists sell more of their work too.

Trinity Brown, standing outside the Mint Studios in Palmer Park. (Photo ©Keith Emmerich for Mint)

Fun fact:  She hardly ever wears her own jewelry, because when she does, people buy it from her fingers or neck.  That’s especially true for her best selling copper pendants.

Future plans: Attend a leading business school focused on entrepreneurship and art.  

See her work:  On Instagram at @TrinsWireCreation or many Mint events.  

Hear more from Trinity in this 2018 video.

 

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How Jessica ended up in two Mint videos and a show in the Fisher Building

Jessica Fligger showed up with her family for the Mint Paint Detroit with Generosity opening last month, a rare artist with a rare opportunity – two of them.

She left 90 minutes later with two interviews completed and her paintings shining. This young painter and ceramics artist was thrilled to have her art featured in the Fisher Building – and in the interviews.

The first was with Tim Brown of CBS Detroit, for a piece for Eye on Detroit.

The second was closer to home. Mint marketing intern Journey Shamily, who has sold art with Jessica through the Mint Learn and Earn program, talked to her about her show at the Fisher, which comes down on Jan. 2.

” I just knew that I wanted my interview with her to be fun for the both of us while still giving her a chance to talk about the beautiful art she made for three beautiful nonprofits. I truly did have a blast and with this internship I can mark ‘interview someone’ off my bucket list,” said Journey Shamily.

Guilded by her Mint mentor Kelly O’Neill, Journey also edited the video of Jessica Fligger, which is presented here and on our YouTube channel. 

Jessica was paid to create original paintings and art through Mint’s Creative Summer Jobs program.  (Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see some of the paintings created or stop by the Fisher Bakery by the afternoon of Jan. 2 to see them all in person.)

Jessica is one of the rare artists who was accepted into both of our training and development programs. Both she and Journey learn creative and business skills through Mint – including how to answer questions from guests or in front of the camera.

Support more youth developing skills with a donation to Mint or become a monthly donor and give even more opportunities.

Jessica is interviewed by Tim Brown for CBS Detroit’s Eye on Detroit. (Photo Journey Shamily for Mint Artists Guild)

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Meet Mint’s new marketing intern Journey

Marketing intern Journey Shamily at TedX Detroit with Mint. (Photo: Vickie Elmer)

Journey Shamily has a big, silly, sweet smile on her face.  Despite setbacks in her life, she smiles and giggles a lot, maintaining a sense of optimism and professionalism.

Her digital art shows her sense of “body positivity,” no matter the size, shape or shade of the women she creates.  She wants every woman to feel empowered about their bodies and every girl to see someone who looks like her, “beautiful and unique.”

Shamily, 18, was chosen as Mint’s first marketing intern in November, selected for her experience in graphic design and her attitude and enthusiasm. In that role, she creates videos, social media posts, fundraising materials and will help establish Mint’s social media policy guide. And she is learning new skills, guided by her mentor, Mint board member and marketing lead Kelly O’Neill and others on Team Mint.

“It’s helping me take my career to the next step and be more professional,” Journey said. 

Her favorite early assignment was serving as the Mint photographer and videographer at our Paint Detroit with Generosity opening at the Fisher Building. (Watch for a new post soon sharing one of the videos and a couple of photos from that wonderful opening. The show is up at the Fisher Building through Dec. 30.)

Journey Shamily, 18, attends WayMichigan, an online school and will graduate from high school next year. She has bounced around, living on her own, briefly in a homeless shelter with her mom, and now with her grandma, who has been very supportive of her creative projects. 

After graduating, she intends to  take a gap year to save money and add to  her experience as a freelance designer and digital illustrator.

In 2020, Journey is planning a community service project, bringing Mint Artists Guild into Detroit area homeless shelters to work with children on creative art and gifts for their moms.

 She has been part of Mint’s Learn & Earn program since September 2018. She has learned to connect with others and network around her art among other things. 

Mint is “very inclusive, very friendly and safe,” for all artists, she says.  She helps make it friendly, with her big smile and the “hello, hello, hello” greeting for all.

 

Fun fact:  She loves Ted Talks  – and sold her work with Mint Artists Guild at TedXDetroit 2019.

Digital art © Journey Shamily

Future plans: Attend a university in New York or elsewhere to study graphic design or illustration.

See her work:   Visit her website or stop by at Mint pop ups and the Mint tent at the Palmer Park Art Fair in June.

 

Support Mint Artists Guild with a monthly donation now, so we may hire more Journeys, more creative youth for internships and creative work in the year ahead. 

Noel Night with Mint Artists Guild

Join us for a Noel Night pop up with Mint Artists and alumni and some emerging food businesses too.

We will offer hand made gifts and art by some of Detroit’s best emerging artists, plus Mint greeting cards and Mint prints.

Visit us at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Midtown Detroit as part of your Noel Night stroll and activities.

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Mint stars in CBS Eye on Detroit feature

 

When he stopped by for a quick hello and a question at the start of TedXDetroit, videographer Tim Brown promised he would return.

And he did, and he interviewed Mint co-founder Vickie Elmer and Mint Artists’ Journey Shamily, asking about upcoming events.

Then at our invitation, he showed up at our Paint Detroit with Generosity opening at the Fisher Building. He interviewed us some more, taking in the 25 paintings to be donated to local nonprofits. The result: A feature story on CBS Detroit’s Eye on Detroit.

The story aired this morning during local breaks of the CBS This Morning, co-hosted by Gayle King. It features Mint summer worker Jessica Fligger who said, “I wanted to do something that would put me out of my comfort zone,” in her original painting for the Mercy Education Project.  

It also shared perspectives by Mint board member Kelly O’Neill and others on Mint’s impact on youth and on Detroit. Please watch and share our Eye on Detroit story today.  Then please visit the Paint Detroit with Generosity show on display at the Fisher Building, in the Fisher Bakery, through Dec. 30.

Or if you want Mint to grow and hire more youth in Detroit next year who will paint for more local nonprofits, please donate today.  

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Children are our future, our beautiful inspiration for 2020

Girl with a heart painting by Alexis Bagley

 

Children flock to Mint’s free arts and crafts, led by Mint Summer Workers. (Photo: Vickie Elmer)

 

Mint Artists Guild sees the future and it is our children.

Mint just announced that its 2020 Paint Detroit with Generosity  initiative will give paintings to nonprofits that serve children and youth, and families in need in Detroit. For the fifth year of this program, Mint will focus all our generosity on youth, instead of donating to a wider variety of nonprofits.

“Children create joy by living in the moment;  yet they face real hardships in Detroit. They deserve our love and support,” said Vickie Elmer, Mint co-founder and executive director.

Mint already has honored the work of a variety of youth-serving nonprofits through the Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative, including Brilliant Detroit,  Crescendo Detroit, Downtown Boxing Gym and Ruth Ellis Center  among others.  (Please visit our exhibit at the Fisher Bakery, in the Fisher Building through Dec. 30 to see these beautiful images)

Mint chose children as the theme for the fifth Paint Detroit with Generosity  because most of our work focuses on youth and children, from the free arts and crafts to the youth-created art on our greeting cards to the entrepreneurial training for high school age artists.  And we know children and youth today face many challenges and deserve inspiration and support.  

Almost one in six children in the United States live in poverty, according to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. That means 7.5 million families living in poverty, with one-fourth of them led by a mother or grandmother or other female relative. The numbers are far higher in Detroit.

More than half of U.S. parents worry that their children will be victims of violence, of bullying, of depression or anxiety, according to Pew research.  Seven in 10 teens say anxiety and depression is a major issue for youth, and a more serious one than bullying, drug addiction or poverty.

In Detroit, more babies are born prematurely than in any other area.  Children go to sub-standard schools and struggle with learning to read. Only 10 percent of third grade students read at their grade level.

Yet all is not bleak. Community groups, individuals, foundations and nonprofits are developing after school programs, summer jobs, sports and other services to lift up Detroit’s children. Youth themselves create opportunities to learn and grow.

Nonprofits serving children and youth in or near Detroit may request to be considered for Mint’s 2020 Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative. Please contact Mint  by Feb. 15, 2020 and include details on the number of youth served each year (and where they live).  Nonprofits will be asked to sign a standard memorandum of understanding, or MOU, and share some details about their programs.

Mint welcomes individuals and businesses to support Detroit youth and this initiative, so we may hire more youth in 2020 and donate more paintings. So please give today.

We will paint our children’s future, beautifully.

Girl with a heart painting by Alexis Bagley

This Paint Detroit with Generosity painting was created in 2019 by Mint worker Alexis Bagley. © Mint Artists Guild, 2019