Lawrence native creates colorful mural on community garden shed

May 29, 2024 3:23 pm

Updated: May 30, 2024 2:10 pm


Penn Street Community Garden got a colorful makeover in May thanks to Kansas City-based artist Jude Croft. The garden is one of the oldest Common Ground sites, established in 2012. 

In 2023, garden managers Ruben and Kathy Hamilton began beautifying the space by painting the garden’s picnic table and bench a bright yellow color. In April, students from the University of Kansas helped paint the fence posts surrounding the garden with the same color.  “I just love sunflowers and the color yellow. It’s such a happy color,” Ruben Hamilton said. “We just want our community garden to be a happy place.”


Common Ground Program Manager Umut Bayramoglu initially approached Van Go, Inc. to see if the youth participating in its 2024 arts program would be available to paint the Penn Street Community Garden shed, but due to the popularity of the program, Van Go’s schedule for 2024 was booked. Van Go’s Art Director Rick Wright recommended former graduate Croft for the project instead. “We applaud Jude’s growth and independence as an artist and we were happy to make this connection,” Wright said. “One of the parts of Van Go’s holistic approach to working with youth is encouraging healthy lifestyles and eating habits … which would go hand in hand with community gardening.”

Croft designed a mural based on Penn Street Community Garden’s appreciation of sunflowers and yellow. The project started in early May and was finished in less than two weeks.

“This was literally the most enjoyable project I’ve ever done,” Croft said. “I could paint community garden sheds forever.”

Croft, a Lawrence native, graduated from Van Go’s The Arts Train Program in Spring of 2020 and then graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2023 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting. He currently lives in Kansas City, Mo.

Common Ground is the community gardening and urban agriculture program with 11 sites across Lawrence.


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Contact: Karrey Britt, Communications Specialist, kbritt@dgcoks.gov

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