The Avant Garden (formerly known as Art City Stone Garden) was a holding ground for monolithic rocks that seemed to show up overnight… every time I came by, there were more, and soon it took on the feeling of Stonehenge.
For the most part, it seemed just like the garden parties just “happened” but truth be told there were people and dates, roles we’ve played–lots of spontaneous creativity combined with hard work. Rather than organizing parties the way people usually do, with meetings and agendas, plans seemed to unfold organically. We’d literally run into each other in the Garden or at Art City and pass along info and ideas about bringing people together to garden and party– Voila, Garden Parties were born.
Department was already hosting some amazing dance parties he called Fluxus a Go-Go. Winter 2013 was the first collaborative Solstice Garden/Party held from noon-midnight for participants to share in the creation of our newly forming “periphery” garden. Several art city peeps created garden beds around the entire periphery of the garden. Jason made a call for donations of plants and I set out inviting people to work and play with us. A trickling of people came to help through the daylight hours to moving earth and plugging in plants. By the time night came we were ready to relax. Department had created another world with lights, projection art of endless streams of eye-candy video footage he’s collected. Food in the form of a potluck–sometimes organized around a theme, “Shish-kebab!” was a memorable one–everyone brought ingredients to collaborate in the art of food on a skewer.
Soon there were donations of trees… an apple tree that had been in a wine barrel for about 10 years was ready for a new home. Two mulberry trees, avocado, citrus arrived. Cheyote grew and grew… and we experimented with different ways to cook it.
At one point we grew a surplus of food and donated the food to food banks and catholic charities to be distributed…
We also hosted some educational events: A summer camp with over 75 kids came from Thousand Oaks and several permaculture specialists created a “round-robin” learning environment to engage kids through their senses and through play! In collaboration with Gwendolyn Alley, we shared the newly budding garden with Ventura College students.
Everyone was invited to join us for these parties/events. Here are some examples of things that happened… (excerpted from some emails)
May 2nd 2014 was the first Beltaine a Go-Go with
Happy May Day !
Hope you can make to Beltaine-a-GoGo
First Friday’s Free Art event
May 2nd – 5pm to 10pm
at Art City Gardens – corner of Rex & Dubbers
Bring your ribbons
bring yellow flowers
bring your favorite food dish
bring your fun
bring your flashlight
come all ye misfits,
dance round the maypole,
and enjoy the sacred fire,
to the sounds of the
Trippers Hollow Collective
& Loves Secret Domain
2nd Winter Solstice 2014
Calling All Permies, Activists, Artivists, Crafters, Laughers, Musicians, Muses and Solstice Magic Makers!
Saturday is the 2nd Annual Winter Solstice Garden Party at Art City!!!!
Here is the agenda as it is right now:
12:30-1 Yoga for Gardeners
12-4:30 Work Party
12-4:30 Local crafters (we’ve invited a few people, feel free to invite more.)
1-2 Lance and his band
4:30 Light Fire/Solstice ritual: (do you know anyone who would like to facilitate a small ritual of releasing something (a note) into the fire of letting go of old, and bringing in new??)
5pm Ollie Powers plays Theremin
5:30 Las Saucetronauts Dept. kicks off dance party
6pm Pole Dancers
6:30pm Potluck (bring a dish to share, and reusable utensils, plates and cups)
Please plug in where you can. This is a self-organizing organic experience. You know how it flows.
Aslo, We have had a rather bountiful harvest of Chayote, which most fruits have started to sprout into being new plants. Have ideas about where to plant them? Grab a few for your local guerrilla garden.
(Unpublished interview with Avant Gardener Lynne Okun and Art City Curator, Sophia Kidd. 12.17.17)
SK: When did Lynne Okun arrive on the scene and what has her role been?
LO: 2012 for parties by dept. 2013 began organizing events.
SK: When did Jason Brock arrive on the scene and what has his role been?
LO: Around the same time!
SK: What is Avant Garden’s role in the environment?
LO: It’s an experiment in organic collaboration and that in itself is good for the environment. Like art city, everyone who plays a part is a part of the whole! We’ve used the garden as an educational tool for summer camps, Ventura College students, and passersby. We’ve attracted volunteers just by opening the gates and being there. We seem to attract people at the right time for the right reasons. It’s a bit of a gathering of a wide range of people…environmental activists, poets, retirees, etc. We’ve created a rotation of water-bearers who mindfully care for the plants during their weekly shifts.
SK: What are the next steps?
LO: hmmmmm….next steps… seems like we will continue to host creative and collaborative events, both educational and inspiring. A place to relax, sit on a rock, dig in the dirt, “smell the flowers.”