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Denver Arts & Venues awards music and art school grant to create Lunar New Year sculpture

In the heart of the Little Saigon Business District, located on Federal Blvd, three life-size rats stand prominently in front of a tree adorned with gold coins and red envelopes. Called the “Uplifting Trio,” the rats play the instruments: keyboard, guitar and saxophone.

The public art installation, funded partly by the Denver Arts & Venues P.S. You Are Here grant, is titled “Community Tree of Renewed Health, Prosperity, and Spirit.”

“It’s for the community,” said Victor Ngo-Smith of New Cottage Arts. The installation is meant to uplift community spirits in this tumultuous Year of the Rat. The project was conceived by New Cottage Arts, a new music and art school in southwest Denver built with the mission to bring music and art to everyone.

Denver artist Mari Munet designed, planned and collaborated with Ngo-Smith on the installation beautifully and intricately painted with traditional Asian iconography mixed with modern symbols and colors of cultural connectedness.

Because of the pandemic, the project was launched May 12, a rescheduled date.

“Now as the city and our communities slowly start to reopen, we want to recognize the fortitude and resiliency of our local and entire community by honoring the immense efforts of every single Denver citizen working together towards a ‘renewed’ vision of life, health and prosperity for everyone,” said Ngo-Smith.

The group is proud to showcase the immense efforts of the diverse community of volunteers, artists and youth from Westwood, Montbello, Boy & Girls Club, and the Little Saigon Business District.

“We want our public art project to advocate for all communities ‘banding’ together, working together, and moving forward together towards a just and equitable future for all,” said Ngo-Smith.

Learn more about New Cottage Arts at

Written by Mary Jeneverre Schultz

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