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Why Will Langford believes in our new Youth Arts Competition

Will Langford visits a Sheefy McFlymural in Eastern Market. (Photo by © Will Langford, using a tripod)

When we leap into something new and big, it helps to bring along an optimist and a make-magic-happen person like Will Langford.

Known as Will The Poet, he has a history of helping Mint and our young artists. And he also served as the voice of Michigan State University’s “Empower Extraordinary” campaign. He will use his positive energies and extraordinary network in Detroit to lead Mint in a new initiative: the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition.  It launched this week and runs through Aug. 4.

He was the first and best choice when Mint executive director Vickie Elmer came up with the idea to create a competition to engage and encourage children to be creative in these challenging times. He immediately said yes.

“I’ve engaged in the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition because I believe that Detroit is wealthy beyond our wildest dreams—in that our youth bear such light, intellect, and sheer talent,” said Langford.  “And Detroit is home to that undeniably spirit of hustle and hope, because when I look around me, I see artists, educators, parents, business owners, and co-conspirators who are committed to the growth of the Motor City.”

Children and youth who are age 21 or younger, as of Aug. 4, and live in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in Michigan are encouraged to create visual art or poetry based on the three prompts Will wrote.

Those prompts and a lot of other information about the Youth Arts Competition are available on our website.  Completed poetry and art also may be uploaded there.

Will Langford is a Detroit native, a poet, teaching artist, and Fulbright scholar. He is the 2017 Motown Mic Spoken Word Artist of the Year. He divides his energy between education and community development projects in his hometown, East Africa, and the East Lansing area, where he is a Ph.D. student at Michigan State in curriculum Instruction and teacher education.

Will “The Poet” Langford (Photo: © Rachel Laws Myers, used with permission

Will joined the Mint board of directors in January.  Yet he already is well known as an active Mint supporter, a volunteer and ambassador who buys Mint art.

His idea for blackout poetry was featured in the Mint blog series Creative Ideas for Challenging Times.  And since Mint regularly brings poetry into its Creative Summer Jobs program, it was easy and smart to add poems to our competition this summer.

Now Will is working to bring in businesses and nonprofits that believe in children and creativity and will donate prizes, awards cash or promotion to our competition. He and Mint have landed some beauties including Arts & Scraps, Avalon International Breads, Confident Brands, Jo’s Gallery, North End Customs, Sherwood Forest Art Gallery and others.  We welcome your organization to join us in this joyful initiative; email us at mintartistsguild@gmail.com if you’re interested.

And we hope that you or your children, grandchildren, nieces, cousins, siblings, best friends, roommates and others who are 21 or less will enter the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition.  Will cannot wait to see what you write, draw or create!

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Why we are doubling up on creative youth this year

 

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.

Mint is doing this as the economy worsens and many programs scale back or halt for the summer. Young workers will be particularly hard hit by the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Labour Organization reports. Yet research shows teens gain so much from summer jobs: future career gains and higher earnings,  greater self esteem  and academic advances. 

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

Mint summer worker Michael Johnson live painted for our summer open house in 2019. (Photo Vickie Elmer)

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.

So please give a little or give a lot as we create beautiful opportunities in Detroit. Here’s the direct link: https://ioby.org/project/lets-grow-meaningful-youth-jobs-creativity-and-beauty-detroit

 

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Knit, sew, sing: Creativity in Complicated Times, pt 3

Learn to knit or crochet during this time. Photo Imani / Unsplash

 

We all deserve a boost after being at home for anywhere from nine to 15 days.  So here’s some recipes for boosting yourself – by trying some new artsy activities or preparing yourself to land a summer job.

These activities may seem frivolous in these challenging times, but they are not.  They give you something valuable:   Joy and a sense of accomplishment. And they take your mind off the things we cannot control and put them squarely on things we can control – and create.

So let’s get creative!

Learn to knit or crochet.  Once you learn the basics, knitting can be relaxing, almost like meditation.  My friend Wendy Shepherd, executive director of Mittens For Detroit, shared two YouTube channels  – this and that one and also Tin Can Knits for getting started.  “It’s also a great opportunity for the kids to video connect with their elders who knit, to sit and knit alone together,” said Shepherd.  If you need to de-stress as you learn, read these wonderful pointers from Interweave, which develops magazines, information and events for crafters.

Sing along to the ’60s.  Yes, that will bring on The Beatles hits such as “Here Comes the Sun” and “Love Me Do.”  But also sing beautiful songs along  with Irma Thomas belting “Time Is on My Side” or Aretha Franklin singing “Do Right Woman” and The Temptations “Get Ready.”  Select a couple every day from Pitchfork’s list of 200 great ’60s songs.  Singing releases endorphins and raises our mood, strengthens our immune system – and calms the brain, researchers have found.

Create a scrap art project.   Start saving items from your recycling container and scanning the ground when you take your dog or kid brother out for a walk.  Stash egg cartons and cardboard boxes; dry orange peels or scraps of wood. Flatten old cans. Snare mostly empty paint cans from your garage. Then look for inspiration. Or look to the sun or nature for an image. If you are lucky enough to land a free creative learning supplies kit from Arts & Scraps, Mint and Brilliant Detroit, you will have plenty of materials. (These will be distributed free to Detroit families through Brilliant Detroit.)

Create or update your resume.   Download a sample resume, especially one for a young person, and use it as a guide. Or follow the excellent advice outlined in The Balance Careers post, starting by writing down all the types of work and awards. Make sure you sell yourself and state why you’ll be an excellent person to hire. You may want to enlist someone to assist you with this and remind you of some of your accomplishments. After you finish your first resume, definitely ask three adults to edit and review it and suggest improvements.  

Some people will want to take it a step further: That could look like a LinkedIn profile. Or it could mean a work program, such as Americorps that is hiring soon. If you live in Detroit and are ages 14 to 24, register with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent now to help land a job this summer, including those with Mint for creative youth.  If you live elsewhere, see if your city is running a youth employment program and connect to it.   

We are sharing some virtual activities on our Facebook page so follow us for those. And we will share some more ideas next week, including some from our creative community. So send us yours today!

 

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Fly into creative activities during coronavirus shutdowns

 

If you are stranded without a school or university schedule, or staying home as a precaution against COVID-19, you may have been handed a gift of time. 

It may not feel that way now, with galleries and museums closed and friends far flung and everyone feeling off balance or afraid.  Yes, we need to practice social distancing, wash hands regularly and thoroughly and take other precautions outlined by the CDC and World Health Organization.

You and almost everyone else are missing out on a lot – art shows and plays, senior trips and so much more. And yet, this time could be when you create your first masterpiece that will hang in MOMA or appear on Netflix in a few years.

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will,” best-selling author Stephen King said. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

So let’s get past that- and start working on superb goals for the next two to three weeks. Here’s some creative ideas:

Paint and create. Create a friendly competition with another young artist to see who completes more work in the next two weeks. Work on several pieces at once, like artist Shirley Woodson.  Create work inspired by the world today, or imagine and create a better one.  “Write about some of your ideas for a better home, school, neighborhood or church. What’s missing? What could you add to or take away from the world you live in now? Draw or paint or create a collage or clay sculpture to represent your ideas,” suggested artist and educator Adwoa Muwzea in answer to my request for ideas on Facebook. 

Learn to cook. Your family may feel stressed because there’s no real routine. Or your grandma or mom may be worried about money, about work or other things. So offer to make dinner for 10 days and then come up with creative recipes – from your family history or culture or from a great collection of recipes online. Cookbooks work too, especially ones aimed at newcomers like these six, including The Starving Artist Cookbook . It was written by artist, illustrator and graphic designer Sara Zin.

Make money.  Yes, start a small business and stash some cash.  My friend Wendy Shepherd, who has worked myriad creative jobs including delivering tap dancing messages, suggested making, bottling and selling handmade hand sanitizer, because it is in short supply.  Or offer your services as a babysitter, dog walker, photographer, personal chef or organizer to neighbors and friends. Be thoughtful and cautious about this. Do something small and safe, and if you have questions about it, speak to parents or trusted advisors.

Create with your pet. Dedicate some of the extra time at home to your pet, my pal Pam Murray suggests.  “Write stories from the pets’ point of view. Illustrate or film the story from the pets’ point of view, which could be pretty amusing if you have a Corgi- nothing over knee level,” she wrote on Facebook.

Write a play – in a day.  Sometimes a short project gets creatives revved up and ready for more. This brilliant idea for a play writing competition for college students was shared by my friend, theater and events consultant Nick Rowley. And it will leave you with time for other creative work:

Catch up. Your room’s a mess and you are behind on AP Calculus. So set aside two to three days for each and work diligently, using the pomodoro method to catch up. (Set a timer for 25 to 35 minutes and ignore everything else while you work diligently on a task. Then take a short break and start again.) Some people may need to catch up on their sleep, too.  Go for that after you have finished cleaning your room.

For artists and writers who appreciate specific ideas or prompts, we recommend creating art or writing a story or poem around the theme Abuela, Grandma, Bibi or on Resilience.  (Mint is working with Hannan Center on an art and storytelling show focused on Abuela and resilience seems like it will be a worthwhile topic for this year.) 

If you need help being productive while working at home, Fast Company magazine has excellent advice. If you need help achieving your goals, read our seven tips and find an accountability partner – another artist or your sister.

The key is getting started – today – on a creative or entrepreneurial project.  If you want to share your work in progress, please post it by Wednesday at 5 pm EST on Instagram and tag us @mintartistsguild .

Come back on Wednesday morning for more ideas on making the most of the time at home, with some incredibly creative projects for young creatives.

Photo: Vojtěch Petr on Unsplash

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We are creating a beautiful partnership with Arts & Scraps

Arts & Scraps previous pop up took place at Stef-N’Ty in Detroit’s North End. The next one comes to the Bagley community. (Photo: Arts & Scraps)

Creative partnerships bring such beauty into the world. And the partnership between Mint Artists Guild and Arts & Scraps certainly will offer that – and a lot of creative activities and a few jobs for youth, when it lands in the Bagley Community  at the end of March.

Mint is hiring emerging artists as the staff for Arts & Scraps’ Neighborhood Network pop up in Neighborhood HomeBase community center run by the Live6 Alliance. A grand opening is scheduled for March 28 at HomeBase, 7426 W. McNichols, four blocks west of Livernois.

Arts & Scraps Neighborhood Network pop ups are funded by a $75,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. It includes a pop up near Clark Park in Southwest Detroit this spring. Previous pop ups were held in the Grandmont Rosedale and North End neighborhoods of Detroit.

The main goal is to offer Arts & Scraps to all, Arts & Scraps executive director Ang Adiamack said. She works from Arts & Scraps main office and store at 16135 Harper Ave.

“Being so far east is great in many ways, but it does mean we are hard to reach for west siders. This opportunity opens up the possibility of resourcing artists, entrepreneurs, makers and more across all of Detroit, which we are really excited about. In addition, being able to have youth staffing the pop-up in Bagley is incredibly exciting. We love the work Mint does empowering students to grow their own artistic career,” Ang said.

Mint Artists Guild provides entrepreneurial training and workforce development opportunities to creative youth. It has partnered with Arts & Scraps for two years with Mint’s Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative. Mint also buys arts and crafts supplies from its East Side store.

“We adore creative collaboration and any time we create opportunities for youth, the community and a partner, that achieves our win-win-win goals and makes us very happy,” said Vickie Elmer, Mint’s executive director and co-founder.

This Paint Detroit with Generosity painting by Jessica Fligger hangs in Arts & Scraps East Side headquarters, donated by Mint Artists Guild.

The pop up jobs mix retail sales and customer service, art making and leading arts and crafts activities for all on Saturdays. Youth must demonstrate that they are responsible, resourceful and enjoy making craft projects. They must be available to work most Saturdays from mid-March through early June.

Young creatives ages 15 to 21 may apply by sending Mint a resume and information about themselves.  Please apply to mintartistsguild@gmail.com by March 5.  Interviews will be scheduled in early March.

The Neighborhood Network pop up at HomeBase will feature Arts & Scraps recycled creative supplies, plus Mint greeting cards and a few Mint prints.  Mint intends to hold regular free arts and crafts activities on
many Saturdays. 

UPDATE: The pop up will postpone opening until it is safe to do so. Watch for details on Arts & Scraps and Mint’s social media when state and federal authorities give us the all clear. 

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Holiday cards: back story and today’s beauties

Sir Henry Cole’s first holiday card.

 

Credit or blame Sir Henry Cole for the tradition of sending holiday cards to family or friends.

The man who would go on to become the first leader of the Victoria and Albert Museum created what the Smithsonian magazine says is the first Christmas card in 1840. That’s when he realized he did not have enough time to send hand written notes to all his friends. It would have been impolite to allow their greetings to go unreturned, so he approached an artist friend, who drew a family celebrating the holidays surrounded by people helping the poor. His time saving tool was, the Smithsonian magazine said, the first Christmas card.

Very soon, others followed his lead, and the practice grew with the industrial revolution and as women took the role of connecting far-flung family members. Card quality improved along with image reproductions and an array of greetings featuring landscapes, sporting themes and more varied images, instead of merely showing cherub and children singing in snow storms.

By the late 1800s, people collected Christmas cards the way they collected coins as card makers organized competitions for new images.  

Mint Artists Guild’s first holiday card was inspired by an image by alumni Espacia Fotiu. She hand painted cards and gave one to Mint’s co-founders Vickie Elmer and Mark Loeb in appreciation for their help in launching her creative career.  The next year, in 2016, Mint debuted its holiday card featuring a tree surrounded by a community of peaceful people.

A year later, we celebrated the holidays in Palmer Park, with a card designed by intern and former Summer Worker Alana Rider. It depicted the historic Palmer Park Log Cabin, decked in snow and holiday lights. (The Log Cabin never uses electric lights, so that’s artistic license; it is being restored by our friends and partners the People for Palmer Park.).

Trees, starry nights and the historic Log Cabin in Palmer Park show up on our earlier Mint holiday cards.

Mint skipped a holiday card in 2018, but we’re bringing forth a beauty this year. Our new holiday card is based on a beautiful painting of poinsettias by Annie Kinney, who often paints floral pieces.  It is bright and bold and features the flower that blooms in millions of homes, churches and businesses at the holidays. (How the poinsettia became the flower of the holidays is a story for another time, though read this article for some cool history.)

The Mint poinsettia card  debuted in November at the TedXDetroit and Detroit Institute of Arts pop ups. It will be available during the holidays at the Detroit Artists Market, at Germack Cafe in Eastern Market and soon at WSG Gallery in Ann Arbor.  Or join us at  our Mint pop ups at Eastern Market on Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Dec. 22 and at Noel Night on Dec. 7.

Sir Henry Cole wants you to send some Mint cards this year.

Mint’s new holiday card features the beautiful flowers of Annie Kinney.

Mint Masterpieces

Artists, art collectors, patrons and gallery owners all show up at Mint Masterpieces, this first one at the home of Linda and David Whitaker. (Photo: Charlene Uresy)

Our second art-full gala moves to Palmer Woods, where a judge who is an artist and an attorney who is a serious collector will host our party with a purpose on Oct. 19. This beautiful event features fine wine and food, fabulous music by jazz guitarist A. Spencer Barefield and violinist Jannina North, lots of art – and some surprises. Our silent auction gives guests the opportunity to take home art by professional artists and our emerging artists.

Mint Masterpieces supports Mint Artists Guild’s growth, and creates more opportunities for youth in Detroit. A limited number of tickets are available now; buy yours today: http://bit.ly/mintgala

Learn more about our hosts in this blog post and video, and watch for updates on our blog and social media.

Mint Masterpieces is sponsored by Blossoms, DET Property Management, Eric’s I’ve Been Framed Shop, Integrity Shows, Sherwood Forest Gallery – and soon other caring businesses.

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An abstract greeting card, supporting summer jobs

Mint Artists is adding a new greeting card to its collection – its fourth card based on teen art.

This high quality abstract card is based on a painting created by Mint summer worker Tulani Rose Pryor. Tulani was one of four young workers to be employed by Mint in 2016.

Greeting card sales support our youth development and creative careers programs. The cards will be available at all Mint events, starting with the Palmer Park Art Fair May 6 and 7. They also will be available in our online store.