The Creative Life in Our Cities: A Conversation with Antonio Macioce

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 Antonio (Tony) Macioce.

When did you first get started in the arts?

As a child, my passion for soccer exceeded all others. However, growing up in the land of Michelangelo and DaVinci, I also developed a love of art. I was born in Alvito, Italy, a small town about 90 miles southeast of Rome. But when I left for America, my interest in art stayed behind in Italy. 

It was not until my senior year at the University of Notre Dame that art held a place in my heart once again. In a move that perplexed many of my classmates and professors, as well as my family, I switched my major from chemical engineering to fine arts. It was not a rational decision. 

I think, as graduation approached, I listened to my heart which told me that a life spent as an engineer would make me extremely unhappy. I opted instead for advertising design. 

After graduation, the long and difficult road to a career in advertising began. That career proved to be a long, exciting, creative, and ultimately, extremely satisfying one. I worked with many creative, wild, eccentric and wonderful people, most of whom had learned the value of making decisions that were not always rational. 

Painting, for me, has not been a career. It is a wonderful hobby. My advertising career spanned over thirty years and as that career moved toward its end, I returned to fine arts where it all began.

Painting has given me a way to continue my love for the creative process and an amazing way to pass my leisure days. There is no pressure to paint for profit but only for the pleasure of doing it. 

To my great satisfaction, I have been fortunate that some galleries and customers have found my work appealing. 

In life, we often miss the obvious. The signs directing me to a career in art were there at a very early age. Yet, when I moved to America, I ignored them for several years. The journey back to my childhood passion has been a long one, sometimes demanding, but always satisfying.

In addition to a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Notre Dame, my education also includes several fine arts courses at Wayne State University and advertising courses at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. Also, I have had many drawing and painting courses at BBAC (Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center). Any time spent with fine arts is enjoyable. In addition, there is great satisfaction painting with other artists, having your work critiqued by others, and learning from seeing the work of other artists.

Who has been a mentor to you along the way?

I have not really had a mentor. A relative in my hometown of Alvito, who did ink drawings and oil paintings, inspired me to start drawing when I was six or seven years old.

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

I am a member of the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center .

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

My painting of the Coliseum and a section of my Italian hometown, even though they are more realistic than the way I love to paint, represent an important essence of who I am and where my life began.

Leonardo da Vinci once said that one never recovers from one’s own childhood.

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. My paintings have been in the Public Art Program at City Hall.

Can you share a favorite quote about art or life?

The majority of my paintings are from my imagination. My approach to color is instinctive rather than predetermined. After three years majoring in Chemical Engineering, I switched to Advertising and Design. Therefore, I want painting to be anything but an exact science. It’s more enjoyable to be surprised by what an empty canvas has been transformed into when the brush stops. One of my favorite quotes is from Picasso, “I don’t know in advance what I am going to put on canvas any more than I decide beforehand what colors I am going to use.”

What advice or suggestions do you have for younger artists?

My advice would be that whether your painting style is impressionistic, expressionistic, abstract or photo realism, you must enjoy it and feel a tremendous satisfaction when you put down your brushes. It shouldn’t feel like work, rather, it should feel like a moment of pleasure.

Learn more about Tony Macioce and his art here.

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.

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 working on a plan to partner with some like-minded groups on a building in downtown Farmington, with plans including a gallery/event space and a shop selling work by local artists and creatives!

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!