Matthew Henson Gardens, 2014

Matthew Henson Hope Gardens, 2013-14. Gates, shade structures and seating.  Matthew Henson Housing Project, Phoenix, AZ. (A Public Art Project by John Randall Nelson and Joe Willie Smith).

Arte Povera, the avant-garde art movement of the 60’s, believed in the romantic sense of making the ordinary magical. An art that was interested in materiality and physicality that incorporated the forms and materials of everyday life.

Drawing on a shared love of the old and discarded, Phoenix artists Smith and Nelson have woven together a series of runic garden gates made of concrete and forged steel. Recycled garden tools and salvaged industrial parts (from South Phoenix “urban fields”) conjure the spirit of Arte Povera, creating an environmental artwork that speaks to the aspects of passing time and familial histories.

Fifty-two sculptural finials and fifty-two unique concrete posts combine to create juxtapositions of objects and form. Spinning whirligigs and rustic weathervanes create an overall art garden environment that stands as a symbol of locality and remembrance.

*The Matthew Henson HOPE VI Project, is a federally-funded grant project that rebuilt the outdated Matthew Henson Homes. The public housing community, which was initially constructed in 1941, is located in the HOPE VI Special Redevelopment Area, between 7th and 15th avenues, Grant and Pima streets within the Central City South community of Phoenix, Arizona.