By Ashley Shuler
Tucked away behind the town hall is a 24-hour space with a snaking labyrinth, budding greenery and towering sculptures.
The Franklin Arts Garden opened a few weeks ago ahead of construction schedule.
The garden’s main attraction is a labyrinth constructed with hedges.
According to a sign in the garden, a labyrinth has only one path that leads from the outer edge to the center.
Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no tricks and no dead ends. Instead, the labyrinth is a spiritual tool that can help visitors find their way.
And that’s exactly what Meg Jones, co-owner of Richard’s Brick Oven Pizza with her husband, Richard Goss, had in mind.
Jones has a background in horticulture and landscape design, working for Franklin Parks and Recreation for a number of years.
She and local architect Terry Lancer designed the approximately 23,000 square foot space next door to the pizzeria.
The labyrinth was inspired by a hedge maze in New Harmony, Indiana located about three hours southwest of Franklin.
Jones owns the Franklin Arts Garden property and received a $90,000 grant from the Franklin Development Corporation, which is funded by the city.
Jones paid the rest of the $200,000 project, which broke down into budgets for land, site and plant materials, artwork, furniture, labor and engineering.
The biggest chunk of the budget was $75,000 for the land, which was covered by Jones and Goss.
The garden features permanent structures by a couple local artists, including Gordon Strain, associate professor of fine arts.
Strain has a large origami crane sculpture named “Emily” on display there.
“Public art creates conversations,” Strain said. “Some people love it, some people hate it, some people don’t even notice it. But if you ask about public art, there’s always an opinion. People willing to constructively share their opinions and have conversations about art leads to better communities.”
Junior Alexis Brown, a waitress at the pizzeria, said her favorite part of the garden is the labyrinth for walking meditation.
“Students should visit the garden for whatever reason,” Brown said. “It’s a good place to center yourself.”
Strain said the arts garden could be a peaceful retreat for students.
“College can be stressful,” Stain said. “It’s a short walk to the arts garden and once you’re there you can have some nice quiet time to contemplate and meditate.”
On opening day, the garden hosted labyrinth tours and an art class.
Jones said she hopes to host more events, including art therapy classes, meditations and wine tastings in the garden.
According to a proposal obtained from Lancer + Beebe Architecture, the garden’s purpose is to enrich the lives of Franklin residents and make Franklin a “cultural destination.”
“I think the arts garden is on the cutting edge of good things to come for Franklin,” Brown said.
The Franklin Arts Garden is open 24-hours a day and is located a 5-minute drive from campus at 251 S. Main St. in downtown Franklin.