Public Art

Opening Doors, an exhibit welcoming all

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

-Maya Angelou

On April 26, we cut the ribbon on a new public art exhibition, Opening Doors.

Featuring all local artists, Opening Doors is a series of 11 doors that form a welcome ribbon at the Museum entrance.  Each door is truly unique in size, shape and content; from pink fringe and peacock feathers to glitter bubbles and faces made of clay. But all offer the same message:

Regardless of immigration status, race, disability, religion or sexual orientation, ALL are welcome at the Children’s Museum.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock attended the ribbon cutting as the special guest and said to the crowd of nearly 100, “This exhibit, with its emphasis on diversity and inclusion, I really think it says a lot about Denver. And, as importantly, it is so timely for this type of exhibit. Not just for those here in Denver, but those of us in our society.”

Museum President Mike Yankovich added, “The whole idea here is to celebrate the diversity in our community. We brought together local artists to welcome everybody, to welcome all families and children within our community.”

The exhibit will live on the Museum plaza through fall of 2017, free for all to experience.

Contributing Artists

Ramon Bonilla

Gwylym Cano

Maeve Eichelberger

Sarah Fukami

Jennifer Ghormley

Ebony Ice & Kristen Thomas

Jay Michael Jaramillo & Jerry Jaramillo

Community children and Museum staff, led by Salim Khoury

Armando Silva (Artmando)

Frankie Toan


The Art Studio

Introducing Salim

Salim Khoury started with the Museum as a Clay Technician in October 2015. Recently, he took on the role of Art Studio Coordinator and has strived to expand the experiences available to Museum guests. In addition to adding new clay programming, he has been working hard to bring wonder and joy to all through pop-up dance parties (James Brown, anyone?), “stained” glass windows and every child’s favorite, coloring on walls.

Check out this video to meet Salim and hear more about the variety of ways you can play with clay at the Children’s Museum!

Kia Neill


Down Stream
Down Stream

On April 12, we said goodbye to our winter artist-in-residence, Kia Neill. Throughout her tenure, Kia wowed guests with color and whimsy, while encouraging kiddos to make their own mark on the world around them.

Down Stream, inspired by nature and created in collaboration with Museum guests, lives in Joy Park.

Kia Neill

Meet Kia

Photo by Christopher Patronella, Jr

Growing up in a house full of artists, Kia Neill was allowed to endlessly explore her creativity. But while her parents focused on the commercial aspect of art, graphic design and illustration, Kia knew by the age of 5 that was not her path.

Laughing, she recalls her uncle asking if she was going to grow up to be an artist like her parents.

Her reply? “No way. If I’m an artist, I’m going to be like Picasso.”

Language of Evolving Trails by Kia Neill

And like Picasso, there is no denying an element of surrealism in her work. A Chicago native, Kia moved to Colorado to explore the mountain landscape, both physically and through her artwork. Her creations meld drawing and photography in a seemingly effortless way; the addition of a sketch to elongate a swirling cloud or to expound on the tracks left by a cross-country skier. Her intention is to evoke the feeling of the photograph. She describes it as “more of the experiential, something that is not really seen but what you can feel when you are in the moment.”

Kia’s Open Studio Hours

With her strong connection to the natural world, it’s no wonder Kia is excited her installation will live in Joy Park, and she needs your help to finish it! Kiddos and grown-ups are invited to come by during her open studio hours to meet Kia, collaborate on a piece, and explore art in a whole new way!


Ajean Ryan

Saying Goodbye

Ajean Ryan’s residency at the Children’s Museum comes to an end

On January 11, we celebrated the closing of our final artist-in-residence of 2016, Ajean Ryan. Our inaugural class was full of inspiring artists, who leave behind not only a piece made just for the Museum, but their individual legacies.

Jamie Molina, who taught us there are no mistakes in art.

Nicole Banowetz, who introduced us to the unseen world of rotifers.

Wes Sam-Bruce, who showed us the value in posing penetrating, even unanswerable questions.

And finally Ajean, who imparted us with the wisdom that art is transformative. But more than that; art is magic.

With the help of Museum guests, a new world, The Upside Down Garden, came into being; constructed with bits and baubles, Q-tips and pom poms, googly eyes and plastic apples, collected from garage sales over the years with no intended purpose.


At the Closing Reception, Ajean vividly recalled memories from the individual children and adults that helped create the garden. A young girl who visited during her first open studio hours and created a basket of “fresh strawberries” for her; the “perfectly choreographed” way a little boy carefully constructed a creature out of her garage sale “junk”; the enduring patience of an “adult helper” as he painstakingly wrapped coil after coil of pipe cleaner around a Dixie cup to create a new species of plant.

Has a child ever proudly handed you their creation and waited expectantly for your reaction? Too often, we merely mutter, “That’s nice” before moving on to tasks we deem more important, never giving that moment a second thought. Ajean insists we must celebrate these creations, and encourage the children in our lives to explore their imaginations.


Her series of botanical drawings, inspired by The Upside Down Garden, aims to give these pieces a lasting place in the world; “The great thing about this is I was able to capture something that looked like detritus, something that didn’t look valuable, and I feel like that’s really what I love to do. To capture something that these kids made, because for them it is precious, it is a work of art. So to elevate it in the way that I can and give it this representation, it was really important to me.”


Through Ajean’s botanical drawings, these small wonders of a child’s imagination are now a permanent fixture in our Museum, reminding us always that art is magic.


Ajean Ryan’s series of botanical drawings can be viewed outside The Art Studio.


Class of 2017 Artists-in-Residence

After reviewing dozens of applications submitted by talented local artists, the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus is pleased to announce the our Class of 2017 Artists-in-Residence:

Kia Neill – Winter Session

Armando Silva – Spring Session

Betony Coons – Summer Session

George Perez- Fall Session

Kia Neill

Kia Neill is a multidisciplinary artist working in mixed media drawing, painting, photography and sculpture.  A Chicago native, Neill received her MFA from The University of California, San Diego. She relocated to Denver, CO in 2014 after repeated visits as a Guest Artist in the Breckenridge Arts District (now BreckCreate) to explore her deep attraction to the mountain landscape, which heavily influences her work.

Armando Silva

Armando Silva was born in Sombrerete, Zacatecas, Mexico. His family moved to the Northern Colorado area in search of the American Dream when he was just five. Armando quickly became familiar with pop culture in America; everything from Michael Jackson to current cartoons.  In 2010 he received his BA in Fine Arts from The University of Northern Colorado. Since graduating, Armando has used his artistic platform to pursue his passion and purpose. He believes he has a responsibility within the community to lead, educate and give back. Armando paints portraits to help tell stories, sometimes in his studio or on stages in front of thousands. As a creative, Armando looks for opportunities to paint a bigger picture. His intuition is to find the greens in a red rose and the blues in an orange.

Betony Coons

Betony Coons was unschooled in rural Kansas on an apple orchard. Her parents highly valued abundant play and gave all five children the time to explore and follow their curiosity. Those same values have stayed with Betony through adulthood. As a mother of three, Betony is constantly moved by the beauty and wonder of childhood. This is reflected in her wild and whimsical paintings and murals. Betony’s paintings are large, iconic images holding frenetic energy and bold color within the collage elements and acrylic paint. Her pieces explore home, struggle and love.

George Perez

George Perez is an artist that creates photographic works through impractical techniques such as long exposure, digital screen shot appropriation, and/or scanography. He received a BFA (Cum Laude) in 2014 from the University of Colorado, Boulder and has also served as artist-in-residence at Redline in Denver. Perez’s work is based on the banal or mundane environments he interacts with on a day-to-day basis and his interpretation of present day society, either in real life or the digital realm. Images are documented and manipulated to alter the meaning into another perception of a particular common narrative.

Nicole Banowetz

Artists: Where are they now?

Nicole Banowetz

We have another exciting update on what a former Artist-in-Residence is up to! When an artist concludes their time with us, they’re not just leaving a legacy here at the Museum. They continue on to wonderful new art opportunities all around the world!


Nicole Banowetz, our 2016 spring artist, is doing exactly that. During her residency, her giant, 3-D inflatable art wowed and inspired artists of every age. She graduated from CSU in 2004 with a BFA in sculpture. She has worked internationally, creating mosaic work in India and working and showing in Italy, Ireland, Russia, Germany and England.

Now, the Netherlands can be added to that list!

Nicole was one of the coveted artists selected for the 2016 Amsterdam Light Festival. This annual light art festival brings designers from all over the work to display their art on the picturesque streets of Amsterdam in a unique, interactive light-art experience. Each route or “walking trail” has it’s own theme, and Nicole’s selected theme is called Rotifers.

According to her festival feature page, Rotifers is a “microscopic view” of the circle of life and nature as a whole. Here are some of the works in progress of these cool critters!

Nicole Banowetz’ work is on the Illuminade route in Amsterdam from December 15th, 2016 to January 8th, 2017. We can’t wait to see amazing photos of this international artist’s newest finished works. After all, it makes knowing that we have a piece of hers in our very own Museum even more special.