Betony Coons · The Art Studio

All the World’s a Stage…

At artist-in-residence Betony Coons’ closing reception, the crowd stood around the interactive theater she created in collaboration with Museum guests, while Art Programs Coordinator, Salim Khoury, offered remarks.

“Betony, your art is like a storybook come to life.” And looking at the piece, Paper Moon, it’s easy to see what he means.

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Paper Moon
Betony Coons, fall 2017 artist-in-residence

From afar, the stage is elegant and resplendent with detail, the shades of black and white punctuated with flashes of gold leaf and finite pops of color. But look closer and you will be delighted by the whimsical treasures hidden throughout. A tiny raccoon perched along the right side, curiously peeking out; “That’s me,” she says laughing, “Because I’m a Coons.” There are little drawings, messages and quotes from Museum guests, collected throughout her residency and incorporated with care. She points to each one and shares the story about the child (or grown-up!) who contributed the memento.

But perhaps the most remarkable elements are actual newspaper articles from the Loveland Reporter-Herald covering the moon landing in 1969. They were found in the attic of Betony’s home, forgotten by the former owner, and are now memorialized on the moon that serves as the focal point of Betony’s stage.

To pull off the three-dimensional, 16′ x 8′ piece, it took a true collaboration between Betony and the Museum’s exhibits team. “Betony gave me a drawing and we took it from there. We used our CNC router to build the stars and moon for her, then she painted them. Working together, all the way through, it was really just a beautiful project,” said Chris Van Dyken, Director of Exhibits.

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Artist-in-residence, Betony Coons and Director of Exhibits, Chris Van Dyken

 

Betony’s has been another Children’s Museum residency filled with that wonderful give and take, where local artists share their wisdom with Museum guests, who in turn offer their expertise in the awe of childhood.

During her final open studio hours, Betony and kids sprawled on the ground to “build a house” together. There is the usual; a front door, dining room table, a bed and plenty of pets. But there is also a teleport for time travel and, at the insistence of one child, it is both day and night – at the same time.

“It’s so fun to see kids who are not concrete in the way they think. As an artist, it can give you a lot of freedom and creativity to let things go in unexpected and surprisingly fun ways. Things you wouldn’t do as an adult because you just think, This is how it is.”

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The collaborative house from Betony’s final open studio hours.

And with her final piece, Betony made sure to hit that point home. Paper Moon inspires the desire to create, be whimsical, to jump on the moon (it’s ok, we promise) and burst into song, no matter your age. So go on, make-believe with us.

Say, it’s only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me
Yes, it’s only a canvas sky
Hanging over a muslin tree
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me…

From It’s Only a Paper Moon
by Yip Harburg and Billy Rose

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Betony Coons · The Art Studio

Introducing Betony Coons

Zip lines from the second floor to the front door, an elaborate, hand-painted theater in the living room, tree houses dotting the apple orchard landscape… No, this isn’t The Lost Boys lair. It was the childhood home of artist-in-residence, Betony Coons.

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Wonders and Ladders
Betony Coons

“My own upbringing was very whimsical.” You can say that again.

So it isn’t surprising she was intrigued by the opportunity to take up residency at the Children’s Museum; “My art is very kid-inspired. I have four children of my own, and we are always creating together.”

Art appears to be innate to every part of her life. She and her husband, musician Tim Coons, create together under the name Giants and Pilgrims. Their collaboration focuses on combining their art forms. On a recent tour, Betony painted live on-stage while Tim performed.

“We give each other a lot of feedback. It’s like having a brutally honest mirror.”

As an artist, Betony is drawn to mixed-media; “I’ve always liked to dabble, to play with a lot of different stuff. Mixed-media collage allows me to do a tiny bit of everything. It’s my way of pulling in all these bits and pieces of all the little stuff I like to do.”

During her open studio hours, guests can expect to be surprised with something new every time. For Betony, a favorite moment so far was the day before the solar eclipse crossed the U.S. On a whim, she decided to switch up her plan and instead have the kids create celestial works using paints and gold leaf. One family, originally from France, had traveled from Michigan to view the total eclipse in Wyoming, but stopped on the way for a day trip in Denver. The father shared their story with Betony, and was overjoyed to have such a perfect memento to commemorate their trip.

“Connecting with this family from the other side of the world, it just felt really special and purposeful.”

Betony has open studio hours now through October. Visit our website for more details.

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El Corazón

On July 19, we said goodbye to our spring/summer artist-in-residence, Armando Silva. Beloved for his musical action painting performances, Armando had a knack for reaching even the quietest child and encouraging all to look at art, and themselves, in a whole new way.

And while our guests learned so much from Armando, it appears he gained just as much from his time with them. At his closing reception, Armando read a poem inspired by his residency at the Children’s Museum, all about discovering his inner child.

I contain the mastery of my inner child en mi corazón.

Each day, I am more and more my mother’s treasure and my dad’s pride.

I have siblings I play with and a bike I love to ride.

I’ve worn my favorite shirt four days in a row,

and picked the scab on my knee twice this week.

I see the world but don’t acknowledge it.

I mean, that tree grows so that I can climb it right?

I climb to climb and don’t worry about coming down.

I’m here to play, I’m here to draw and I’m here to paint.

OH! OH! OH!

And that hill over there, I’m going to roll down it as fast as I can!

I’ll turn that towel into a cape and save the dog from being inside all day!

I’m now 30 years of age and I am excited to say…

I contain the mastery of my inner child and that child wants to play.

-Armando Silva, ARTMANDO

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El Corazón
A metamorphosis
by Armando Silva, 2017 spring/summer artist-in-residence

 

The Memory Project

The Memory Project

These beautiful portraits are the faces of Syrian children living in a refugee camp on the border of Syria and Jordan.

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American teenagers created the portraits from photographs as part of the Memory Project, which promotes international friendship and kindness.

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Receiving the portraits brought smiles and joy, letting the children know that people around the world care. And for the teens, this was an opportunity to practice kindness, global awareness, and to rise above intolerance.

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The portraits will live in the Children’s Museum on the wall next to Skyline Gallery through early fall. For more information on the Memory Project, please click here or watch their video below.

Canvas prints generously donated by CanvasHQ.com.

armando silva

ART. MAN. DO.

Artmando

ART – MAN – DO | noun

1: The art one man can do

From the top of his retro red fedora to the toes of his black Converse, Armando Silva is covered in vibrant paint splatter. And, after watching his performance, it is clear he earned every fleck of color.

Art-man-do. It’s more than just a clever play on Armando’s name. To him, it’s a motto. The ART one MAN can DO; “We all have our own way of creating. Of making an impact or contributing to the bigger picture.”

Armando, an action painter who uses movement and color to tell stories, came from humble roots. After moving to Colorado from Mexico when he was just 5, Armando struggled not only with a language barrier, but a cultural one. Armando recalls watching cartoons and being inspired to draw and trace the figures. Creating became not only his outlet, but how he related to those around him. He was the friend that was always drawing, or as he recalls fondly, “the one the girls would ask to write their name in bubble letters.”

But, he soon graduated from tracing Ninja Turtles and attended The University of Northern Colorado, earning his BA in Fine Arts in 2010. It was in college that his interest in action painting was roused. Professors were doubtful a successful career could be launched using this platform, but Armando did not waver. And though it seemed only incredibly accomplished artists were doing the same thing, as Armando puts it, just because Lebron James is the king of basketball doesn’t mean kids don’t aspire to play.

And he is right. Far too often, fear of failure can dictate our choices. Armando insists this is why he likes action painting. Mistakes can be made, sometimes while on stage in front of thousands, but he simply picks up a new brush and turns the mistake into part of the bigger picture.

It is this philosophy that led him to apply for the Children’s Museum Artist-in-Residence Program. And the most important thing he wants to take from his residency and time collaborating with Museum guests?

“How do we make it better? How do we use each other for the best and make something really cool?”

During his most recent open studio hours, that meant tiny hands were dipped into lime green and hot pink paint cans with kiddos slapping, flinging and flicking paints to put the finishing touches on Armando’s piece.

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Armando has open studio hours through July, but don’t be surprised if they are all a little different.

“I’m feeling it out. I don’t want to come in here and think, this is what has to happen. I want to feel the vibe of the Museum and build off of that.”

We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.