Paint Detroit with Generosity exhibit opening

We invite you to the fourth annual Paint Detroit with Generosity exhibit opening at the magnificent Fisher Building / Fisher Bakery on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Meet some of the artists in the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program who were paid to create these beautiful pieces and learn more about the wide variety of charities in and near Detroit.

Guests may nominate a nonprofit organization to receive one of the three paintings that were not specifically painted for a charity. The Fisher Bakery will sell baked goods and light meals, and Mint will have greeting cards available for purchase.

Sponsors and partners are welcome to support this initiative. We are grateful to our current sponsors: Blossoms florists, Collected Detroit, the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, Eric’s I’ve Been Framed Shop and Sherwood Forest Gallery. And we are very thankful to The Platform and The Fisher Building.

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Summer job with an art teacher

Mint art teacher / coach Jacquie Lane works with worker Alexis Bagley on mosaics. (Photo: Vickie Elmer)

Mint Artists Guild’s Creative Summer Jobs program teaches career skills, and particularly focus and productivity and managing several projects. Mint also teaches young Detroit artists to improve their paintings, and create mosaics and more.

For the art skills building, we turned to Jacqueline Edwards Lane, an art teacher extraordinaire who worked for Mint. She spent hours coaching our youth on the finer points of mixing acrylic paints, creating more realistic eyes, finishing mosaics and much more.

“Ms. Jackie,” as she was called this summer, spent most of her career teaching art to youth in Detroit. Her summer with Mint workers infused her with new energy to create more new work, drawn from the youthful energy and creativity of the Mint workers.

“They already bring a lot with their skills and their enthusiasm,” she said. And many of the workers, who range in ages from 14 to 21, started making art at 3, the same as their art coach. Hear more of her story and how it entwines with Mint’s in this new video.

Watch for details on the Paint Detroit with Generosity exhibit, to be held later this fall at the Fisher Building, where the fruit’s of Mint’s summer work and Ms. Jackie’s coaching will be available for all to see.

And if you wish to see Mint hire more youth – and donate more paintings to local nonprofits – in 2020, please become a monthly donor and support our nonprofit’s growth.

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The importance of drawing and multiple works at once: Shirley Woodson’s advice

Artist Shirley Woodson at her May artist talk.


Shirley Woodson has worked as an artist and arts educator in Detroit for some six decades, and to this day, she usually is juggling a half dozen paintings in her studio.

Over the years, she has moved her paintings into angels, then water, and started painting shells in some of them. “The shell is a home,” she explained in an artist talk at the Norwest Gallery in Detroit.

Her work is in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, which calls her a “trailblazer,” and the Studio Museum of Harlem, as well as corporate and private collections. Her brilliant colors, oranges and lime greens and Carribbean sky bright blues, burst forth in happy profusion; check out more than a dozen of her paintings in this Pinterest collection 

She leads the National Conference of Artists Michigan chapter and for years worked as an arts educator in Highland Park and Detroit. 

Her best advice to her 18 year old self?  Learn to draw better. “Drawing is essential. That’s your note taking. It’s your scales,” she said, answering my question.

Here are other insights from Shirley Woodson that could aid young artists:

  • Work on several paintings or pieces at once, all in the same medium. That allows movement from one piece to another, based on mood, attitude and more. “I paint many at a time. …Start another one and another one and then go back,” she told the Norwest Gallery guests.
  • Understand the art market, local and national. 
  • Seek opportunities to show and sell your work outside your home city. She told how she called up a curator and asked to be included in his show. Or land an artist residency somewhere new.
  • Give yourself time for contemplation of your work. “Seventy-five percent of the time is in the thinking and looking,” she said.

The History Makers has videos and information about Shirley Woodson’s perspectives and career. 

Woodson’s work and words of wisdom are enduring, and she’s clear that artists of color and female artists must continue to work and advocate for themselves. “You will always be overcoming barriers. … Knock it down. Take it away,” she said.

© Vickie Elmer, 2019

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Sounds sweet, looks beautiful: Mint at the DSO

Mint Artists Guild has reached another milestone:  A piece of our art now belongs in a major arts institution’s collection.

Success sounds sweet after we donated a Paint Detroit with Generosity painting to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The painting, created last year in the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program by worker Charles, will hang in the DSO’s new education wing.

Mint’s Paint Detroit with Generosity  initiative in 2018 was underwritten by a Michigan Council for the Arts grant, with Culture Source and the National Endowment for the Arts, and supported by Blossoms, a full service florist, and many individual donors.

We give original paintings to more than 25 local nonprofits, from Mercy Education Projects to Ronald McDonald House to the Greening of Detroit. Several others beyond the Detroit Symphony Orchestra celebrate music, performance and culture:

  • Crescendo Detroit
  • Heritage Works
  • Mosaic Youth Theatre
  • YMCA Y-Arts.

And the Boll Family YMCA in downtown Detroit hosted our exhibit last year where thousands of people saw the paintings created by Mint workers.

To support this year’s summer jobs program, where these lovely paintings are created, please give to our spring fundraiser today.  Give $250 or more and you may choose a small Mint painting as your reward.

 Paint Detroit with Generosity is worth a standing ovation and a big donation!

Painting © Mint Artists Guild, 2018

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Summer jobs for creative youth

Mint wants to hire at least 10 and perhaps 12 young artists for our Creative Summer Jobs program. So we open up our job interviews to any artist from Detroit, ages 15 to 21, who is registered with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, the city jobs program funded by foundations and businesses.
Come talk to us on April 17 or April 27, or wait until May 3 for an interview.
Please bring along contact information for two references – people who know you well, such as teachers, volunteer leaders, former managers, those who attend the same house of worship as you.
Practice interviewing with a friend, and watch for our blog post on interviewing tips coming soon.

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Mint Artists presented this painting by Nur Shah to the engineers at the GM Tech Center who invited us to STEAM Day. So fun to give this just as the North American International Auto Show was gearing up in downtown Detroit. And we talked about new creative projects that we want to develop with General Motors.  Yes, our dreams are as big as a fleet of trucks!

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Mint Artists is excited to share the paintings that will then be given to the City Year, Coalition on Temporary Shelter, Junior Achievement, Ruth Ellis Center and more. The exhibit opens Thursday, Sept. 8 at The Carr Center downtown, from 6 to 9 p.m.  Join us in celebrating generosity and creativity.

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Four Mint Artists will be part of this artisan and maker event on Sunday at Shed 5 in Eastern Market. They are Damon FirstBorn Chamblis, Espacia Fotiu, Omari Norman and Maisha Rahman, with paintings, photos, multi media and jewelry. Come by and buy!

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Our deadline for raising money for Mint’s startup and summer jobs program is just around the corner. We’ve already hired one young person to work for us – and hope to hire two more. So give today, whether it’s $10 or $100 or $1,000. The first paintings created this summer go to an array of Detroit nonprofit organizations.

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When I feel like I have nothing, I can give my son the gift of creativity, the gift of imagination, the gift of spending a happy hour painting cardboard on the porch.

Alison Stine, writing in The Nation about why art matters, even when you’re poor. She buys art supplies even when this freelance writer cannot afford much else.