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72 Live Oaks To Be Unveiled In Grand Park To Kick Off Mental Health Awareness Month

In a wide bright courtyard, small live oak trees stand in rows in large beige rectangular plant holders. In the background is a white non-descript building and a blue sky with puffy clouds. A small child in a pink sweater and blonde pigtails stands among the render urban forest.
Angelenos will be able to add artwork and pictures of loved ones to the 72 live oaks in Grand Park as part of a month-long art installation starting May 3.
(Alison Hirsch & Aroussiak Gabrielian
Foreground Design Agency)
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Angelenos will get to hang artwork and pictures of loved ones on 72 oak trees as part of a public art installation in Grand Park to commemorate the start of Mental Health Awareness Month.

The unveiling on May 3 will kick off a string of community-driven programming by WE RISE 2022, a joint effort by the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health and various local organizations promoting mental health and healing through artistic and communal events in May.

Local artists and 20 community-based organizations will be at Grand Park to celebrate the public art installation titled “Creating Our Next L.A."

Karen Mack is the executive director of LA Commons, a public art initiative that spearheaded the installation. She said one of the biggest reasons for choosing the tree was that it was a powerful protected symbol of the city.

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“Our project Creating Our Next L.A. is really about envisioning the future Los Angeles and recognizing the power of nature and trees, in particular, as we move to this future that is going to be determined by climate change and the challenges there," she said.

LA Commons sourced the trees from a nursery in Fillmore, one of the only ones in the area that had that many oak trees. They trucked the trees into L.A. and arranged them into what Mack says is an abstract forest that people can commune in.

In addition to the trees, people will be able to interact with the trees by decorating them, whether it be with pictures of loved ones they lost over the pandemic or art that they have created.

There will also be six pop-ups around the city where Angelenos will be able to write their thoughts and wishes for the future of L.A. on different natural symbols connected to the live oak, like acorns, butterflies, and blue jays.

Those symbols will then be brought to the park and hung on the trees.

“So by the end, you know, you have this full vision that's contributed by Angelenos all over Los Angeles about what they want to see [in] the next L.A.,” Mack said.

At the end of May, the oaks will be donated to nonprofits throughout L.A. to plant in their own communities. Mack says LA Commons will be engaging in conversations to see where the trees can best benefit specific communities.

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