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The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Annemarie Schiavi Pedersen

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 novelist Annemarie Schiavi Pedersen.

When did you first start writing?

I studied journalism and history at The University of Michigan and have worked as a reporter and editor the majority of my life. But as much as I enjoyed journalism, I always had a burning desire to write a novel. After my parents died within less than a year of each other, I realized that life is short and that a dream deferred can die.

So, I set aside journalism, and for ten years worked hard and struggled to find success as a fiction writer. Grateful it came.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

Northville Poet Kathleen Ripley Leo, who has published fifteen collections of poems, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I took a novel writing class at Schoolcraft College from her about a decade ago, and we became fast friends. I’ve learned so much from her.

Rejection is inevitable. Use it to get better.

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

I am a member of Detroit Working Writers.

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

My novel Celestina’s Burnings. The best part of writing and getting this book published is giving an everyday baker girl a voice. Celestina pushes against the most powerful people and ideas of Western Civilization. I love how she adapts. And in the end, with a little help from her friends, she just might get the better of them all.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” —Toni Morrison

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger writers?

Rejection is inevitable. Use it to get better. Study, learn, and experiment with scene and structure. Read books about writing and attend writer’s conferences. At the end, with lots of work, you will become the writer you dream to be.

Learn more about Annemarie Schiavi Pedersen 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.)

KickstARTing Creativity: What Makes a City Lovable?

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!

  • What Makes a City Lovable: “A great walk evokes all sorts of memories, emotions, and random associations. The sensory memory of the feel of a place under your feet, the smell of its air, the tinge of the lighting, associated with the people you’ve known and loved there. A walk through a lovable city brings out the love in us.”
  • Ten Trends to Impact the Arts in 2020: “Artist collectives are forming powerful political bodies, which are eliciting great work and manifesting political, organizational, and field shifts.”
  • Can Art Fight Fake News?: “’Is there anything stronger than fear?’ The audience responded popcorn-style, shouting out suggestions: love, grief, loss, and anger.”
  • Britain’s Bold Plan for High Speed Rail: “While the use of the fastest tracks all the way has not yet been fully confirmed, high-speed rail could revolutionize north-south travel in England, shaving an hour off the journey time between London and Manchester and tripling the current capacity of trains along the route.”
  • Legalizing Play in City Streets: “It makes absolutely no sense to have this ordinance on the books which criminalizes the behavior of children that is extremely natural.”

KickstARTing Creativity: Revolutions and Art Museums

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!

  • When Arts and Business COLLIDE: “Understanding the economic impact that an arts community or district can have, Collide’s ultimate vision is to help Cuyahoga Falls become a destination for art, creating a positive economic effect.”
  • Building Strong Towns, One Storefront at a Time: “Storefront Placemakers are business owners who treat their storefronts as public space. They improve the city around them by making their blocks more inclusive, compassionate and open.”
  • Designing Buildings with a Sense of Place and Purpose: “Francis Kéré has gone on to become one of the most distinguished contemporary architects thanks to his pioneering of a communal approach to design and his commitment to sustainable materials as well as modes of construction.”

The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Richard Adams

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 Richard Adams.

When did you first get started in the arts?

Art has been an important part of my life. My earliest memory is my mother using letters from the alphabet to draw a picture of a pig.  The purpose my mother had for doing this was for me to learn the alphabet.  An M was used for the ears and two W’s for the legs and feet. Several other letters were used to make other parts of the pig.   It seemed that after that I always was interested in art.

… each finished piece is a steppingstone to the next project.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

There were two important people in developing my interest in art. Jan Field and Michael Zarathka both were instructors that I met in the early 1970s when I was an art student at Eastern Michigan University.

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

I am a member and President of the Farmington Art Foundation, a club composed of artists in the Farmington area.  I also am a member of the Downriver Council of the Arts.

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

My artwork has been displayed in Farmington Art Foundation’s Spring Shows. I am a past and current contributor to the Farmington Hills Public Art Program at City Hall and my art has been shown at both Farmington Libraries. Other nearby venues that my paintings have been exhibited are Downriver Council of the Arts, Livonia Exhibition of Fine Arts, Wayne State Alumni Submissions and the Northville Art House. I also was chosen to display my work in different Art Prize venues in Grand Rapids.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.” —Maya Angelou.

This suggests to me that each finished piece is a steppingstone to the next project.

(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.)

KickstARTing Creativity: Art and Social Change, Transit & How Our City Makes Us Feel

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 Art of Social Change: “Socially engaging people’s minds is the heartbeat of what we do, all seen through the lens of storytelling.”
  • 10 Ways to Partner with Community Artists: “Co-create projects with artists that align with both institutional goals and the goals of the artist, and the community they work alongside, alleviating some of the barriers.”
  • Give Fans Transit Passes to Tame Game-Day Traffic: “Game-day congestion is part of football tradition, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Enter the concept of ‘transit validation,’ in which sporting venues contract with public transit operators so that all ticket holders can ride buses and trains free on game days.”

The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Bob Young

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 author and musician Bob Young.

When did you first get started in the arts?

I wrote my first song at the age of 12. Since then I’m probably approaching 2000 songs, but I don’t keep count. Poetry began during my college years and a few years ago I published a collection of about 200 poems. I’ve continued writing whatever The Muse inspires.

Did you receive formal training in music?

I minored in Music Theory & Composition in college, and literature, poetry, and art appreciation classes were also helpful. I’ve also been a voracious reader since I was a child, so I’ve intrinsically picked up how to do it from the variety of authors I’ve read.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?
Dr. Sandy Matthes was my music theory mentor in college; when I asked her why she took an interest in me compared to the other “Music Majors”, she responded, “Because I know you’re going to actually use it!” Since then I’ve met a number of people in town who have been helpful in various ways, but perhaps the most prominent is Jill Jack.

Are you a member of any local or regional arts groups?
Songwriters Anonymous at Trinity House Theatre in Livonia. I’m also on the board of Trinity House Theatre. With the publication of my recent book That’s What It’s All About, I’m looking for appropriate groups to connect with as well.

Keep at it. Some things you create are “just for you and your growth”. Some are for specific people. And sometimes it can be universal and benefit the world.

Can you describe something you’ve created that is particularly meaningful to you?
That’s What It’s All About was released on 2/5/2019 and is a culmination of my experience, philosophical changes, and unique inspiration.

I’m also recording an album of original material (my 16th, I think) later this month with local A-list musicians that is packed with meaning for me.

Has your work appeared in any city programs or events, such as the Public Art Program at City Hall or Art on the Grand?
I’ve performed at Rhythmz in Riley Park a number of times and one year I booked bands and ran sound for the entire Art on the Grand weekend over at the Masonic Lodge.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?
“Love wins.”

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger artists?
Keep at it. Some things you create are “just for you and your growth”. Some are for specific people. And sometimes it can be universal and benefit the world.

Don’t judge too early – just get it all out there, then begin to craft it where necessary to make it the best it can be.

What do you think is missing from the arts community in Farmington/Hills?
There’s an arts community in Farmington/Hills? Then I guess what’s missing is ME.

Why is celebrating and promoting art healthy for a local community?
I refer to Robin Williams’ speech in The Dead Poet’s Society:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

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.)