Fantastically Dazzling by Gary R. Melquist

Hennepin Theatre Trust and Avivo ArtWorks teamed up to create and host a virtual gallery opening featuring Gary R. Melquist, an Avivo ArtWorks participant and advocate for mental health.

Our partnership is built on shared beliefs and goals. Avivo believes everyone deserves the chance to live well and work well, and helps individuals achieve recovery and economic stability. Hennepin Theatre Trust programming drives economic and cultural vitality in Minnesota. Both organizations aim to connect local artists and provide platforms for them to share their voice.

In his collection, Gary aims to show emotional depth in his work that expresses brilliant colors and a bright energy. His art says something about him — his gregarious personality and love for life, travel and exploration. He’s inspired to create drawings of exotic birds, animals and flowers.

Watch the virtual opening

Take a tour of the gallery

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.

About Avivo

Minneapolis-based nonprofit Avivo serves nearly 15,000 Minnesotans each year, helping them achieve recovery, employment and economic advancement.Founded in 1960, Avivo provides chemical and mental health services, housing services, career education and employment services. Avivo specializes in helping individuals and families who face personal or systemic barriers — poverty, homelessness, joblessness, chemical addiction or mental health concerns — achieve recovery and economic stability.

Artworks, a program of Avivo, has been supporting artists living with mental illness since 2004. Avivo’s multi-faceted art studio and programming is a specialized service that assists individuals who are seeking space to make art, receive peer support, build skills, and access larger art career resources. In addition, Avivo organizes public projects that challenge stigma and raise mental health awareness.