Avivo ArtWorks

ArtWorks is part of Avivo’s Community Support Program in Minneapolis and supports artists living with mental illness as they create art, build community, and fight stigma around mental illness.

Through a community-focused and recovery-based approach, ArtWorks offers a multi-faceted art studio and programming that help artists set and reach their professional goals. Goals include making new art, connecting with other artists, and accessing exhibition and grant opportunities.

Contact Jes with any questions on ArtWorks by email or phone at 612.752.8282. To qualify for the art program, individuals must be living in Hennepin County, be living with a serious and persistent mental illness, and complete an intake with the Avivo Minneapolis Community Support Program. Walk-in intakes are on Tuesdays or Thursdays at 11 a.m. at 1825 Chicago Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55404. For questions about the intake, please call 612.752.8200.

Avivo ArtWorks has four components:

  1. Open Studio And Activities

    We offer art-based, wellness-focused services to all members of our Avivo Community Support Program-Minneapolis, which specializes in serving adults living with serious and persistent mental illness. The program’s art studio is open to CSP members at specified times during the week, usually early and late afternoons, for two to three hours. Our Open Studio hours are Mondays and Thursdays 12:30-4:00 p.m. and Wednesdays 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

    Members use the studio space to create new artwork and socialize with other artists. Members may also participate in other programming such as art workshops, activities, specialized peer support, and outings.

    ArtWorks is proud to partner with COMPAS to bring unique workshops, residencies, and performances from a variety of Teaching Artists from their roster to our Hennepin County Community Support Programs. Not only does partnering with COMPAS enhance our art programming but it also expands arts access for our members who often face financial, housing, and stigma-related barriers.

  2. Personalized Career Support

    In addition to studio time, Avivo ArtWorks offers career support for artists. Staff members get to know you, your work, and assist with setting goals and/or develop your artistic voice. This includes writing an artist resume, statement, and artist’s bio. We also help with applying for grants and exhibitions and developing an online presence.

  3. The Collective

    Avivo ArtWorks supports dedicated artists who are committed to strengthening their professional artist skills and goals. They organize as Avivo ArtWorks Collective to create art in community and challenge stigmas related to mental illness. Collective members are actively engaged in the local arts community in addition to exhibiting their work. Collective members are established based on an application process.

    Learn more about The Collective, benefits, and upcoming exhibitions and events.

  4. Events and Exhibitions

    ArtWorks organizes projects and exhibitions that challenge stigma and raise mental health awareness. Past partners include Hennepin County Medical Center, Soo Visual Arts Center, Augsburg College, Solar Arts Building, Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Learn more about current projects here.

    Current & upcoming public exhibitions and events:

    Fantastically Dazzling: The Brilliant Colors of Gary R. Melquist

    March 20 – May 24, 2020

    Avivo and Hennepin Theatre Trust partner to present a solo exhibition of artwork from Gary R. Melquist, an Open Studio member of the ArtWorks program.

    Location: Hennepin Theatre Trust Gallery, 900 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

    Artist Talk: Thursday, April 16, Event time to be announced soon

    Join us for a reception and artist talk located in The Gallery at 900 Hennepin and the Jack Link’s Legend Lounge. During this talk, Avivo ArtWorks will celebrate the artist Gary R. Melquist and his solo exhibition. Gary is a longtime member of the program’s Open Studio group. Gary will talk about his colorful art, discussing his inspirations and process. Additional speakers will share about his prolific energy and his commitment to community and challenging mental health stigma.  

    About the artist:

    Gary R. Melquist has been creating visual art since 2011 when he became a participant of the Avivo ArtWorks program. He didn’t know he had the ability to draw until he was 65 years old, first starting with pencil drawings. Since establishing himself as an artist he has shown his work with People Incorporated, Courage Kenny, and Avivo.

    Art has helped Gary enjoy life more than he ever dreamed possible. Art has been therapeutic for him. His life was impacted by severe depression and isolation, beginning in his teens, and he didn’t expect life to be so good in his elder years. Gary is a mental health advocate, having received a Stigma Buster award in 1994 from the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota. He’s also received recognition for his creative writing. Themes he explores have been mostly related to mental health, showing the range of emotions he has felt. Gary is a long-time resident of Minneapolis.

    Coming Forward into Spring

    Faye Buffington-Howell: Nature’s Empowerment

    March 4 – May 4, 2020

    Location: Hennepin County Library – East Lake, 2727 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN 55406

    Avivo ArtWorks is proud to present a solo display of artwork from Collective Artist Faye Buffington-Howell, as part of our partnership with Hennepin County Library – East Lake.. Faye has been a participating member of ArtWorks for over 10 years.

    Artist Statement:

    I have been an artist for over 20 years. I am retired and focus my time on being creative. This time span has given me the opportunity to find and experiment with various mediums and techniques.

    My style is visionary and intuitive, with spiritual and metaphysical incorporated concepts. Using basic art design principles to piece together the elements of color, shape, line, composition, and texture brings all of this together to create images that explore nature, landscapes, and figures. These I strive to convey in a positive, meaningful way. My new work, some on display in this show, expresses the joy of viewing nature’s empowerment, through its beauty and colorful diversity.

    My beliefs, thoughts and ideas in art stem from my life experiences and ideas of beauty and truth. My life journey has developed deep, emotional experiences and transitions including divorce, cancer, and the death of my daughter, a near-death experience, and the process of aging. Through these events, creating my art has become a catharsis for me, which allows me to heal and renew my spirit.


    Faye Buffington-Howell is an artist practicing in drawing, painting, collage, and mixed media. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Fort Hays University and has exhibited her artwork and co-curated shows throughout the Twin Cities. She recently won the 2018 Artability Poster Contest. She has been an active member of the Avivo ArtWorks Collective for over ten years. In addition, Faye is a co-founder of the Stevens Square Center for the Arts and has received grants from VSA MN and Yuri Arajs.

    Kimberly A. Laudert: Alchemy

    March 4 – May 4, 2020

    Location: Hennepin County Library – East Lake, 2727 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN 55406

    Avivo ArtWorks is proud to present a display of artwork from Collective Artist Kimberly A Laudert, as part of our partnership with Hennepin County Library – East Lake.. A variety of Kimberly’s art will be on exhibit in the library’s large display case.

    Artist Statement:

    I thrive because I believe darkness, difficulty, and even death can give rise to creativity, grace, and joy. I attend to what is before me to express gratitude. I am an alchemist whose artistry transmutes life into art. The title of my show reflects on the literal meaning of alchemy: “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.”

    I create in acrylics, fiber, pastels, and charcoal. I am drawn to capturing nature, animals, abstract landscapes, and still life. Nature influences me as well as the beauty that can arise in the challenges of life.

    Mental health and physical issues inform some of the best poetry and art I have created. It drove me to declare my “year of art” in August 2017. This led me to Artability and Avivo. Art continues to be the constant ribbon moving throughout my life. Everything and every experience has the potential to sponsor and create appreciation, and thus, underscoring and encouraging life.


    Kimberly A. Laudert practices in drawing, painting, and fiber art. She has exhibited with Artability, Sower Gallery, and Avivo ArtWorks. She has participated Art-A-Whirl, St. Paul Art Crawl, and with Wild Women’s Artisan Guild. She is a member of the Avivo ArtWorks Collective, has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and is a poet and feminist activist. Currently, Kimberly is working on commissions and expanding her portfolio.


    Peter F. Hinze: Being Mind

    January 9 – February 25, 2020

    We are proud to share that ArtWorks has launched a partnership with Hennepin County Library – East Lake to present solo exhibitions from members of the Avivo ArtWorks Collective throughout 2020.

    Our first featured artist is Peter F. Hinze. His exhibit is currently on display and exhibits a combination of his landscapes and abstract art.

    Artist Statement:
    “I have to try to work with my anxiety and depression every day. I do that by trying to stay in my “being mind” rather than in my “doing mind” all of the time. In my “doing mind” my thoughts tend to race, I multitask and I lack focus. If I can manage to stay in my “being mind” I am more patient, more in the present, less needing to control, and more creative. I tend to find it easier to stay in “being mind” more when I am doing my art. For me it is important not to try and control the outcome of a painting too much. I like to stay playful and spontaneous with it.


    Hennepin County Library – East Lake

    2020 East Lake St., Minneapolis, MN 55406

    Free and open to the public.


    Art Made in Community

    August 8, 2019 – July 2020

    Avivo is thankful to partner with Hennepin County to present Art Made in Community, exhibiting 30 pieces of art made by members from the Avivo Minneapolis Community Support Program.



    Hennepin County Family Justice Center

    4th Floor

    100 S. 4th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401

    Monday through Friday, 8 AM – 4:30 PM

    Free and open to the public when the courthouse is open.

    Above art by Michaela R. Rachor


    Together We Thrive

    January – December 2020

    Together We Thrive, an art display celebrating recovery and community, opened January 2nd at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport! A big thanks goes to Arts@MSP for their support!

    Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
    Terminal 1, Near Gate E3 / E4

    Artists on Display:
    Heather Spielman, Morgan Brooke, Tommie L. Blackwell, Faye Buffington-Howell, Martha Bird, Peter F. Hinze, Aaron Jay, Julia C. Spencer, Ashley Adams, Glenn Wm. Wymore, Tobias, Kimberly A. Laudert, Michaela Rachor, Douglas Blue, Ruth Lais

  5. Stay Updated

    Follow the link below to receive news and updates by signing up for our newsletter! We also post regularly on Facebook and Instagram.