A COVID neighborhood community art action

May 15th-Oct.1, 2020

Visit the Avant Gardens

  1. 4640 15th Street, Unit A Boulder
  2. 51 Birch Court, Longmont
  3. 20 South 33rd Street, Boulder
  4. 2950 18th Street, Boulder
  5. 1265 Gillaspie Drive, Boulder
  6. 2590 Juniper Avenue /corner of Juniper and 26th street, boulder
  7. Sparkfun (Niwot) temporary closed to the public
  8. 1010 Grape Avenue, Boulder
  9. TBD

What is an Avant Garden?

Avant Gardens is a collaborative community visual art project in response to the ‘Shelter in place’ COVID-19 crisis. The Avant Garden is a secular altar that emphasizes the phase of Spring growth as a reminder that all things in life work in cycles. These Avant Gardens can also represent memorials for loved ones who are sick or who have passed due to the COVID virus. 

In these three aforementioned inspirations, all of them allude to the practice of altars. The Latin root of altar is altare meaning stage or adolere meaning to adore. Thus they are miniature staging of what we would like to honor that is beyond the ego. The gesture of altar making has historically existed for spiritual purposes of offering sacrifices to forces beyond human cognition. The Avant Garden is a personal altar created while considering the opportunity of transformation that may arise out of crisis. 

Avant Gardens borrows from Joseph Cornell art boxes, Japanese Ikebana and Fairy Gardens. Cornell boxes were mini universes made of found object.He used paper, insects, magazine cut-outs, trinkets and installed them into magical worlds inside boxes.  Japanese Ikebana or flower arranging has been linked to the Zen Buddhism practice of natural alta*rs and contemplation. Contemporary artists such as Camille Henrot, Matthew Barney, Yves Tingley have expanded upon this Japanese tradition to include found object and text. Fairy Gardens, an American expansion of the Bonsai, are botanical arrangements one cubic foot on average that combine plants as well as miniatures. They were called Fairy Gardens borrowing from the Scandanvian myth that fairies and invisible creatures that live among us can protect our homes. 

Why make an Avant Garden?

We welcome Boulderites to create an Avant Garden in front of their house to bring positivity to the neighborhood. Avant Gardens are botanical sculptures made from living plants and found object as their containers. If you’d like to be mentioned as part of this community art action, please submit an Avant Garden entry form.

More than ever our isolating situation calls for creative collaboration to foster a sense of community and psychological support.  This is a project that strengthens as more and more community members participate. It will have an open request for anybody in Boulder County to create an Avant Garden  and install them in front of their homes.


  • Include at least 1 living plant
  • Include at least 1 recycled /found object
  • Size limit: think miniature (no larger than 24″ x 24″, not including plants as they do grow!)
  • Position it in front of your yard for pedestrians to appreciate
  • fill out entry form
  • print out QR label and attach to your Avant Garden
  • Deadline: rolling until Sept 15th, 2020
  • If you don’t see your Avant Garden on this page, please contact us.