KickstARTing Creativity: Blissful Walking & Converting Parking into Play

We highlight here some great articles we’ve read this week dealing with art, creative placemaking, and building great communities. You’re sure to find some inspiration to make your life and our community even better!

  • Why We Walk: Norwegian explorer, lawyer, art collector and author Erling Kagge on his new book exploring the bliss of living one step at a time.
  • Can Paris get even more beautiful?: The currently car-filled bridge connecting the Eiffel Tower with the Métro subway system will be turned into a pedestrianized garden, stringing together a set of two new public squares and restored parkland that will create an unbroken spine of greenery a mile long across the city.
  • Converting parking spaces to a play area: The recent project—which cost $200,000 total, including only $14,000 for construction—included an open lawn, a dog park, a children’s play area, and a seating area.
  • What about parked cars as public seating?: Staying true to Benedetto Bufalino’s poetic style, he has imagined the parklet in the most unconventional setting, by placing it on top of the cars parked.

The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Pamela Alexander

We have many talented artists and creatives living and working in our Farmington/Farmington Hills community and this new weekly interview series, sponsored by City Life Realty, will introduce you to some of them.

Today we feature Pamela Alexander, current Farmington Area Artist in Residence.  

When did you first get started in the arts?

I first got started in the arts as a very young child. Both of my parents had art degrees. At five years of age my father was introducing me to simple perspective, shading, drawing, color theory, and more. They both encouraged me in something that I already loved doing. My dad worked in advertising and exposed me to artists in the field. Our home was filled with great art reproductions. My parents have been my greatest supporters and mentors.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

My training began in the home and continued from kindergarten through 12th grade where I was encouraged by my art teachers. For many reasons I was unable to complete my university training until I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the age of 40. Throughout this entire time, I maintained a studio in my home where I worked to create and show my art. Other jobs include advertising illustrator, hand painting blue jeans, designing men’s ties, buying and selling antiques, and teaching art for kindergarten through 9th grade. Each job taught and challenged me. I loved them for different and overlapping reasons, illustration taught me precision and patience, teaching taught me how to teach, plan and inspire. Selling antiques exposed me to art from around the world. Art can be a solitary endeavor and interacting with others enriched my life in many ways. 

Has your art appeared in any city programs or events, such as the Public Art Program at City Hall or Art on the Grand?

I have been blessed to live in a community where arts and artists are valued and supported. We are one of two cities in the state that have a city supported Arts (Division). I am showing now in the Farmington Hills City Hall, Public Arts Program and have done so for the past two terms. I had a one woman show for the month of May at the City Gallery at the Costic Center. I have had, in the past, a two person and one person show at City Hall. I am the current Artist in Residence for 2019 and it was great fun sharing in a pop-up gallery for Farmington’s “Ladies Night Out”.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”—Thomas Merton

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger artists?

I would encourage younger artists to create, create, create.  Whether you think it is good, bad or somewhere in between you learn by doing.  Look at the art of others.  My art history classes and exposure to others work teaches more than you think and helps you to clarify who you are as an artist.  Don’t be swayed by artistic rejections when entering juried shows, it’s all subjective, learn to take it in stride and keep on keeping on.  Don’t let anyone discourage your passions. 

Why is celebrating and promoting art healthy for a local community?

Celebrating and promoting the arts is important because it lifts the spirit. It inspires, heals and elevates our humanity. Music, dance, poetry, theater, painting, all the arts are a form of communication that touch the artist and viewer alike. For the artist the process of creating fills a deep need bringing joy, fulfillment and growth. The viewer reacts on many levels emotionally and or mentally whether they like the piece or not. Either way it reflects something within us to feel or examine if we choose.

Everyone has a need to create in one way or another, to support this within each other opens our eyes to diversity as well as our common bonds. For some people it is a lifeline that feeds a sense of purpose when nothing else does. Ultimately art elevates and enriches us all.

I often give or donate art to charity or volunteer for an art event, I am grateful for opportunities given and want to create this for others.

Learn more about Pamela Alexander and her art here

Interested in a Career in the Arts?

Last month the Farmington Area Art Commission and the Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Division hosted “The Art of the Matter,” a panel discussion and networking event for anyone interested in careers in the arts, and now you can view the discussion from the comfort of your home.

The panelists included artists Pamela Alexander, actor Mark Boyd, photographer Lesa Ferencz, singer Jill Jack, and writer/photographer Kahn Santori Davison, and was hosted by Farmington Area Arts Commissioner Celeste McDermott.

KickstART Your Creativity with Some Inspiration: Artistic Manhole Covers, Music & Love

We highlight here some great articles we’ve read this week dealing with art, creative placemaking, and building great communities. You’re sure to find some inspiration to make your life and our community even better!

  • Artistic Manhole covers: Check out some great manhole cover art found in Japan. We’d like to see some of this around here.
  • Check out these ten great public squares: Did you know that Savannah has 22 public squares in its historic district? Wright Square is one of them and you’ll want to take a look, while seeing what other squares across the country make the list. (Hint: yes, you’ll find one from Michigan on the list).
  • A library or cafe nearby could change your life“living near community-oriented public and commercial spaces brings a host of social benefits such as increased trust, decreased loneliness, and stronger sense of attachment to where we live”.

Don’t Miss An Encore Screening of Intelligent Lives

If you missed the opportunity to see the moving documentary Intelligent Lives at the 2019 Greater Farmington Film Festival (or want to see it again) there is an encore screening this Thursday evening at 6:00 pm at the Maxfield Education Center.

This presentation is sponsored by Farmington Public Schools Special Education Department, Farmington Youth Assistance, and the Farmington Area PTA Council and includes a  community conversation with Janice Fialka, mother of Micah Fialka-Feldman, who is featured in the film.

This film is a catalyst to transform the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America.

Intelligent Lives stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities – Micah, Naieer, and Naomie – who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Academy Award-winning actor and narrator Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of these central characters through the emotional personal story of his son Jesse, as the film unpacks the shameful and ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the U.S.

 Intelligent Lives challenges what it means to be intelligent, and points to a future in which people of all abilities can fully participate in higher education, meaningful employment, and intimate relationships.

View New Work By 2019 Artist in Residence Pamela Alexander

Pamela Alexander, the 2019 Farmington Hills Artist in Residence, will exhibit her paintings at the Costick Center Gallery through May 31. New art from her recent kayak trip in Baja, California will be a special focus of the exhibit. Alexander studied Fine Art at Oakland Community College, Art History at U of M Dearborn, and received her Bachelor of Arts from Madonna University.
“Most of my art comes from a spiritual place and involves something I’ve seen in nature. There are trees, skies, and birds from various places that I’ve loved,” said Alexander.  Her solo show runs through May 31 at the City Gallery located inside the Costick Center lobby at 28600 W. Eleven Mile Road. The City Gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Wednesdays until 7 p.m. and is presented by the Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Division, which coordinates the City’s art, theater, and music programming.