The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Joni Hubred

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

Today we feature writer and journalist Joni Hubred, founder of Farmington Voice.

(c) Dane Gussin

When did you first start writing?

I am a lifelong storyteller, starting with “Show & Tell” in kindergarten. But I began making my living as a writer in 1985, when I was hired as a reporter for the Kanabec County Times in Mora, Minnesota. I had no degree, no real experience beyond my high school newspaper. They hired me based on a writing sample. 

Did you receive formal training in writing?

I’ve received no formal training in either creative writing or journalism. I have taken a number of online courses (including a fantastic MasterClass with James Patterson) and conference workshops.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

The newspaper editors who whacked away at my copy and shaped stories more valuable to the reader have always been generous and encouraging. Sadly, they’re a dying breed.

Are you a member of any local or regional arts groups?

Farmington Voice, my local news website (farmingtonvoice.com), is a proud member of the Farmington Community Arts Council.

Without any regard for race, creed, color, or socio-economic status, art connects and inspires us. We need that more than ever today.

Can you describe something you’ve created that is particularly meaningful to you?

My first completed novel, Above the Fold, will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a “cozy” mystery that I began writing more than twenty years ago. When I finally signed with an agent, I was over the moon – until she returned the original manuscript, clipped to a list of 48 publishers who had rejected it. I stuck the whole package in a drawer and didn’t look at it again until I learned several years ago about National Novel Writing Month. In November of 2015, I picked up the bones of that first novel, changed everything from the title to the name of my heroine, and finished Above the Fold in thirty days. After several editing rounds, I published it myself.

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

It has not. But I’m hatching a plan to put together a “local authors” booth for Art on the Grand.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger artists?

Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dreams. I’ve never met an artist who didn’t face some sort of challenge, whether it’s a boring job, an unsupportive family, illness, financial hardship. I work part-time as a cheesemonger to support my writing habit – and I’m lactose intolerant. Love it all. Use it all. You’ll find your way.

What do you think is missing from the arts community in Farmington/Hills?

Not much at all, really, we are blessed. I would like to see more public art and more events like the Thistle Rose Shakespeare performance in Riley Park. I also see an information gap, which Farmington Voice helps bridge with our new arts calendar and an increased focus on arts-related stories.

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

Without any regard for race, creed, color, or socio-economic status, art connects and inspires us. We need that more than ever today.

Learn more about Joni Hubred and her work here and here.

(Are you an artist or creative living in Farmington/Hills? We’d like to feature you and your work here, too. Download our questionnaire and return it to info@kickstartfarmington.org.)

Get Your Kicks in F2H This Week! (8.26.19)

There’s always a lot of great arts and cultural events in the Farmington/Hills community and this week is no exception.

Here are KickstART farmington’s recommendations for the week of August 26th:

  • Enjoy the fiber art of Muriel Jacobs in an exhibition titled Threads of a Life –My Story, at the City Gallery at the Costick Center through September 6th, open weekdays.
  • The artwork of Cindy Carleton, a contemporary painter who pays homage to the outdoors and Michigan’s natural resources, will be exhibited through October 11 at the City Gallery located inside Farmington Hills City Hall near the Council Chambers at 31555 W. Eleven Mile Road. The Rotating Exhibits Gallery is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Community Sings with Matt Watroba, an evening of song where people of all abilities, ages, cultures, and musical interests are invited to sing-along, bring a song to share, or just listen and enjoy a powerful experience that nurtures body and soul and strengthens the community. August 27th, at 7:00 pm at the Farmington Community Library on 12 Mile Rd.
  • Grab a movie and popcorn at the Farmington Civic Theater. This week’s schedule (Monday-Thursday) includes Yesterday, Stuber, and The Secret Life of Pets 2.

KickstARTing Creativity: Displaying Humanity & Beauty

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!

  • The Onion Has a Little Fun With Our Priorities: In a huge blow to the already neglected varsity team, the Lowell High School football program found its future season in jeopardy this week after administrators allocated $500,000 of school funds to the theater department’s upcoming production of Little Women.
  • The Case for Slower Cities: “When people start driving at a certain speed, they lose awareness of where they are.… Where this gets reflected in urbanism is the more we create spaces where people move fast, the less they understand about what those spaces are.”

The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Mary Lou Stropoli

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

Today we feature artist and creative entrepreneur Mary Lou Stropoli, owner of That Art Girl, offering DIY products that facilitate art making for everyone.

When did you first get started in the arts?

I’ve been an artist since I was a kid.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, with the exception of being an art teacher.  

Did you receive formal training in art?

I have a BFA (Bachelor’s of Fine Art) from The University of Michigan and a K-12 Certification in Art Education.  I loved learning all aspects about art production and developing the skill set to support that passion in others. Teaching others the fundamentals of art and helping them discover, develop, and express their creativity is at the heart of my teaching philosophy; I help others to see and appreciate their own giftedness as well as the talents of others.

When we create and are true to our talents, we develop into the best versions of ourselves.

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’ve sold at Art on the Grand for the past two years.  I started selling at Founder’s Festival way back in the day when the art was still under the big yellow and white tent (Now I’m dating myself)!  I also teach Watercolor for Farmington Hills Cultural Arts. 

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger artists? 

The active process of manifesting an artwork from concept to final product is a thrill that may be unrivaled. The process itself evokes a sense of awe and wonder. Art students tend to be well-rounded individuals with strong decision-making skills, visual thinkers with a broad world view. In the workplace, individuals with these skills sets are often innovators and sought after with high regard. (Think: Google.) Ironically, I often see parents discouraging their children from pursuing a career in the arts. To the younger artist, I urge you to follow your passion to where your heart lies. Although there isn’t always a road map, you are competent and can forge a fulfilling life for yourself in the arts.

What do you think is missing from the arts community in Farmington/Hills?

I’ve always dreamed that we could have a collective arts space, where artists could maintain studios and open them for First Night Events.  The community as a whole would benefit from an artists’ community whereby collaboration and interaction are commonplace.

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

I believe in the unifying power of art—it connects people of all ages, backgrounds, interests and abilities. It’s my personal belief that we are all creators in some fashion. When we create and are true to our talents, we develop into the best versions of ourselves. The making and viewing of art literally brings people together across cultures and continents. The process of creating can change lives by building self-confidence, harnessing imagination, helping to practice problem-solving, and bridging differences. 

Learn more about Mary Lou Stropoli and her work here and here.

Would You Like to See an Art Gallery in Downtown Farmington?

In July KickstART Farmington hosted a pop-up art exhibition featuring work by Aj Cooke. During the four days of the pop-up we heard from many people a desire for a “permanent” art gallery and space for events.

Well, we heard you and we’re partnering with Thistle Rose Academy of Arts and Woodshed Agency to bring a gallery/event space and a shop selling work by local artists and creatives to downtown Farmington!

To make this happen, however, we need your support. Our partners will help with the lease but there are many additional costs we need to raise funds for, including insurance, utilities, signage, retail displays, along with furniture and equipment.

We’re looking to raise $10,000 over the next 30 days. Will you join us? One hundred people donating $100 will get us to our goal but any amount will help.

Make a donation today and we’ll invite you to an exclusive sneak peek open house!

Or send your donation by check to:

KickstART Farmington, PO Box 2297, Farmington Hills, MI 48333.

Thank you for your support!

Get Your Kicks in F2H This Week! (8.19.19)

There’s always a lot of great arts and cultural events in the Farmington/Hills community and this week is no exception.

Here are KickstART farmington’s recommendations for the week of August 19th:

  • Enjoy the fiber art of Muriel Jacobs in an exhibition titled Threads of a Life –My Story, at the City Gallery at the Costick Center through September 6th, open weekdays.
  • Lunch Beats in Riley Park, featuring accomplished singer and songwriter Emmanuelle Jacob. August 21st at noon in Riley Park.
  • Family Fun in Riley Park, featuring performers Cirque Amongus. August 21st at 7 pm in Riley Park.
  • Chirp, a four piece known for their progressive rock/funk and jazz-fusion, keep their sound fresh by hopping genres with a blend of originals and covers and will close out the season at Rhythms in Riley Park. August 23rd at 7:00 pm in Riley Park.
  • Shakespeare in Riley Park, featuring Much Ado About Nothing by Thistle Rose Academy of Arts, presented by KickstART Farmington. August 24th at 3:30 pm in Riley Park.
  • Grab a movie and popcorn at the Farmington Civic Theater. This week’s schedule (Monday-Thursday) includes Yesterday, PavarottiRocketman, and The Secret Life of Pets 2.