New art garden at Avivo builds excitement for spring

How do you keep and build excitement around a community garden? Jes Reyes, program coordinator for Avivo’s ArtWorks program, decided to beautify a garden jump-started through support from Hennepin County in 2018 with works of art.

Thanks to funding from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC), Jes’ vision for the art garden will be implemented over a five-phase, year-long, project.
“We really wanted to show that Avivo is part of the community,” says Reyes. “We thought art would be a really great vehicle to keep people engaged.”

The five phases of Avivo’s Art Garden are:

1. Floral Garden Art
2. Floral Community Mural
3. Recovery Word Signs
4. Garden Art Plant Labels
5. Art Benches & Mosaic Bird Bath

“I’m excited about this project … There’s individual creativity and a collective consciousness,” says Deborah, a member of Avivo ArtWorks. “There’s inclusiveness in it, and I’m able to be a part of it.”
Deborah, and four other ArtWorks artists, created floral-themed art on wood panels for Phase 1’s creation of Floral Garden Art.

Phase 2 kicked off with weekly meetings and discussions to plan the creation of a Floral Recovery Mural. Jes says that artists chose to make this phase representative of Avivo’s “Live well, work well” tagline. Initial sketches show a honeycomb design theme, and will soon be transferred to art-form on two, 4’x4’ wood panels.

“They’re using the symbol of a bee to convey that bees live in community and need each other,” says Reyes. “Some of the art for the garden will be created by Avivo staff and program participants; but once it warms up, we’ll invite the public to contribute as well.”

Anonymous quotes from ArtWorks program participants:


“Doing this project has made me feel like my artwork is actually good and could possibly be liked.”

“I don’t feel as lonely. It has changed my mood and I had fun. I didn’t feel isolated and was around others.

“Working individually and also as a team was very inspiring and enjoyable.”

Recovery Words are part of the third phase, which will be art created using crowd-sourced words associated with recovery and community. The art will be painted during a series of pop-up events.

Over the next few months visitors will notice not just word signs, but also creative art benches, a mosaic bird bath, and colorful veggie and herb plant labels. The project is set to be completed by the end of August 2019.


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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