By Bonnie Auslander
Born in Denver. Childhood in Monument and Lyons. In May, settled in Estes Park.
Such peregrinations are perfectly common for human Coloradans, but they’re more unusual for art works.
Unless the art work in question is a public sculpture, specifically Denver-based artist’s Reven Swanson four-foot-tall outdoor sculpture known as New Dancing Moon VIII. Crafted from mild steel and fused glass, it radiates both serenity and playfulness.
Thanks to the Art on Main Street program created by the Lyons Arts and Humanities Council, New Dancing Moon VIII was displayed in front of Main Street’s Bank of the West for almost a year. There it caught the eye of Estes Park’s Thom Widawski on his trips through Lyons.
“I looked at it every time I drove by,” he recalls. “The shape, the colors, and the stained glass in the middle—it all spoke to me.”
He contacted the Council, who put him in touch with Swanson.
Not only did Swanson sell her piece, Widawski made a generous $900 donation to the Council.
Public sculpture has grown in popularity in recent years, explains Swanson. In addition to exposing the community to different kinds of art, she says, it’s also a way of turning a town “from a place you just drive straight through to one where you stop and linger.”
Lyons’ John King, a well-known kinetic sculptor who was instrumental in the Art on Main Street’s early years, agrees.
“With public sculpture, you’re telling the folks passing through, ‘It’s fun here. It has an interesting street life.’ People think, ‘We should come back after our hike for pizza or coffee and look around.’
“Those are the people with money to spend,” he adds. “Why not get them to stop?”
Swanson’s works have long held a special place in Lyons’ residents’ hearts. On the first sunny day after the 2013 flood, the Lyons Recorder post-flood digital issue featured Swanson’s
“Hello, Sunshine!” sculpture under a banner headline.
Swanson’s sculpture became a symbol of the residents’ optimistic spirit.
For Widawski, a real estate developer who spent over a year renovating the historic property at 166 Virginia Drive in Estes, Swanson’s sculpture, now outside its front door, is like “a beautiful piece of jewelry you put on last.
“I would never have discovered the artist had it not been for her display in Lyons,” says Widawski. “And it brings recognition to the town as well.”
The LAHC, whose mission is to help orchestrate and celebrate the arts and art offerings of Lyons, has brought dozens of sculptures to Lyons over the last 10 or so years through the Art on Main Street Program.
“There’s a public sculpture renaissance right now,” says King,
In fact, with ten pieces of sculpture over two blocks, King says with a wink that Lyons has had at various time a higher density of public art than San Francisco.