Under the overpass at King and Sheppard streets downtown, something is blooming out from a seemingly derelict warehouse in the same enclave as the Center for Photography. It’s a diminutive garden, complete with plants aplenty, rain-catching barrels, and an outdoor table—a modest but beguiling spread that juts up to the back door of Tivoli Art Studios and Gardens. “For me, gardening and art have a very symbiotic relationship,” says the co-op’s founder, 28-year-old Nic Roberts. “Both offer a platform for collective community progress.”
The studio took root here in March 2010, and Roberts and 16 fellow resident artists soon gave the 10,000-square-foot building and its environs some TLC. Part of their mission was to find a studio space that they could improve inside and out with sustainable, green practices. Thus interior walls are made of salvaged housing materials and planned plantings are meant to shade and insulate.
The infant garden is growing in appropriate fashion: it’s laden with a home-rigged hot tub; a nearby shipping container-slash-studio; bits of trashed equipment (artist treasure?); and irrigated by rain runoff. Surveying sights that seem more Austin, Texas, then Charleston, Roberts says, “Art is any creative act that is motivated by love.”