All the World’s a Stage – Reposted article

Reposting a really nice article from my time at the Children’s Museum in Denver….

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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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