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The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Marat Paransky

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 Marat Paransky.

When did you first get started in the arts?

I began drawing when I was three or four years old, and I have never stopped.

Did you receive formal training in art? If so, where and what did you enjoy about the experience?

I have a BFA in Drawing & Printmaking from Wayne State University, and a MFA degree in visual arts from Lesley University College of Art & Design. I enjoyed the comradery in grad school, as well as learning how to talk about my art without sounding lost.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

Susan Goethel Campbell, Michael E. Smith, Petrova Giberson and Michael Rakowitz. Also, my advisors in the MFA program: Hannah Barrett and Oliver Wasow.

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

Whitdel Arts.

A good art program is often a sign that other spheres of the community are healthy.

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

My two kids—it is a collaboration.

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

Yes, the Public Art Program and the Rotating Exhibits at City Hall (“Remix Eternal,” August/September 2018).

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

How about my favorite art joke?

A lady got her purse snatched in the street. When the police officer arrived, he began asking witnesses what the thief looked like. Picasso happened to be walking by when it happened, and he offered to make a sketch of the person, explaining that he is a famous artist. On the next day, the police arrested a bus and two washing machines.

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger artists?

Be prepared for the rejection pile to grow tall. Don’t take it to heart.

It’s all about who you know. Just about every good show came to me through friends or going to events and talking directly with people.

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

A few more venues within walking distance from each other.  One gallery downtown is an outpost, no matter how good it is. Perhaps, a film festival to coincide with visual art events?

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

Life can go on without art, but it will be a poor one, intellectually. The arts can inspire and provoke like few other things. A good art program is often a sign that other spheres of the community are healthy.

Learn more about Marat and his work 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.)

Join us for the Classical Lunch Series

KickstART Farmington & Thistle Rose Academy of Arts invite you to bring your lunch and a colleague and join us for our free Classical Lunch series in December and January at the KickstART Gallery & Shop at 33304 Grand River Ave.

The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Joy Gaines-Friedler

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 poet Joy Gaines-Friedler.

When did you first start writing?

As a kid I was always writing in diaries, but I didn’t start writing poems until I began studying them in college. It took a teacher to show me how to read a poem, to show me the art of poetry: the music of the line, the use of language to create images and how those images create story. Once I saw what poets could do, I never stopped reading poetry. I read it every day. Every single day. If you can write down three things you saw today – a squirrel that made it across the road; a large man who gently lifted a two-year-old boy from a car seat in a large black pickup truck, then took his small hand and walked together into Starbucks; clouds chasing the moon over a dilapidated barn – you can write a poem. And, you can make meaning from those observations. Because every one of these things makes you feel something, provokes an emotion.

Did you receive formal training in writing? If so, where and what did you enjoy about the experience?

Poetry is no longer about lofty abstract ideas, but rather ideas realized through images (like paintings) and the observations of the speaker in the poem. As the great modernist poet William Carlos Williams once said: No ideas but in things. I spent my life allowing art to soothe and comfort me. I laid on the floor listening to music. I bought sketch books and soft pencils and copied the album covers. Later, I fell in love with photography, beginning with a primitive Brownie camera, then those weird Instamatic cameras with film cartridges, then a Pentax 35mm. At twenty-one I traveled cross country with a band. The band broke up in California. I stayed there and enrolled in photography school. I spent the next twenty years as a professional photographer.

If you can write down three things you saw today … you can write a poem. And, you can make meaning from those observations. Because every one of these things makes you feel something, provokes an emotion.

But, it wasn’t until I went to college at age 42, Oakland Community College, where Professors Ed Hara, Peter Stine, the wonderful Thomas Lynch of Lynch Funeral Homes, an accomplished and well known poet and essayist, David James, and, later, many others, including U.S. Poets Laureate Natasha Trethewey, and Philip Levine, whom I had the privilege to study literature and creative writing with, that I was given a tool to say something meaningful, to offer my voice to the conversation that is always in discussion about what it means to be human.

I went on to get three and a half degrees: Associate in Liberal Arts, Bachelor in English with a minor in History, a Masters I didn’t quite complete in American Literature, and a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing, I received from Ashland University in Ohio. In between, I attended over 40 writing conferences, retreats, and workshops allowing me to work with some of the most well-known poets and teachers of poetry in the country. Do you need these degrees to be an accomplished poet? Not necessarily, but one must, I think, read closely, study, attend readings, go to workshops, have a writing community in order not to miss out on recognizing the craft that goes into writing a successful poem.

Where has your writing appeared and what programs or events have you participated in?

My work has won or been nominated for many awards, including two Pushcart nominations. My work is published in over 100 magazines or journals, both print and online. I have three books of poetry published, the latest Capture Theory, is a 2018 Independent Press Book of The Year Finalist. I teach Memoir and Poetry for non-profits in Detroit and all over the Detroit area, as well as the west coast of the state. That work has taken me to The Lapeer Correctional Facility where I taught poetry to male “lifers,” to Freedom House Detroit where I worked with West African refugees seeking asylum. I work or have worked with young adults “at risk,” in Farmington, women in safe houses in Pontiac, at literary events, libraries, and as a visiting writer at universities, including Wayne State, Michigan State, and others.

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger writers?

Reading/writing a poem takes only a pen and paper. Go to Kensington Park, or downtown Farmington, jot down things you see. Let those things be meaningful to you. Let them be metaphor for more. Make a poem out of those images & the sound of language:

Touch            

by Joy Gaines-Friedler

 A chickadee lands in your hand
its body a buoy.
 
It grips your finger.
You don’t hold it. It holds you.
 
It is a kiss, both hard & soft,
both lip & bone.
 
On your way about your life,
at the mailbox or a stop light,
 
your body remembers
those feathers. That touch. & others.

Learn more about Joy and her work.

(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.)

Opening Reception for Exhibition “Collected Works of Eana Agopian”

Join us at the KickstART Gallery at 33304 Grand River Ave on Friday, November 15th, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm for the opening of our first exhibition, Collected Works of Eana Agopian.

The artist will join us on the 15th for a discussion of her work and participate in a brief Q & A.

Learn more here.

The exhibition runs from November 2nd through December 7th.

The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Linda Pelowski

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 Linda Pelowski.

When did you first get started in the arts?

I enjoyed drawing from when I was very young. I would get a stack of loose-leaf paper and sit at the kitchen table and draw cartoons, animals, comic strip characters for hours and hours. In high school I would take all the art classes I could, and then in community college I would take many art classes along with some business courses. My parents encouraged me to take business courses knowing I could make more of a career with that than art, so I did. After community college, I transferred my credits to Wayne State University knowing they had a program in Industrial Design and could make a good career from that.  I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, with a concentration in Industrial Design. After college, I started my industrial design career with a local design firm where I would design kitchen appliances and graphics. During this time, I took many classes at the Center for Creative Studies to further my talents in other fields.

Then I moved my career path into architectural interiors, designing interior and exterior retail markets. After I got married, I quit my job and worked for myself, freelancing in this field for twenty years doing graphic design and fine art perspective renderings for many design companies around the Metro Detroit area. I also painted murals for many years, residential and commercial.

I now work as a full time Artist, painting plein air, studio work and commissions, while still taking classes. I love learning and improving while having fun.

You have to put in the hours and time to grow as an artist. It doesn’t come overnight.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

I really didn’t have any one to help me along the way, I had to make many hard decisions on my own and make mistakes to learn the hard way of making a success of my career. I had the love of drawing and painting to drive me in the direction I was heading and it sure did pay off.  I had the luxury of coming and going on my own and make my own hours while raising my son.

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

Yes, I am a member of the Farmington Art Foundation, Village Fine Art Association of Milford, Great Lakes Pastel Society, Michigan Plein Air Painters and the Great Lakes Plein Air Painters Association.

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

I really don’t have one thing that I have done that is meaningful, all my work that I do has a special

feel to me. I love painting outdoors, photos are good when you can’t paint outside, but you get a wonderful light that you wouldn’t get from photos.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

Well, there is one that I have to mention.  It is by Edgar Degas: “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”

Very True!

And one by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Every artist was first an amateur.”

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger artists?

If they have a desire, then create! Always know, you have to put in the hours and time to grow as an artist. It doesn’t come overnight.

Learn more about Linda and her work.

(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.)