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‘Art In Your Yard’ will honor Tomie dePaola

  • Inspired by the memory of the late beloved children’s author Tomie dePaola, Art in Your Yard, event encourages families and individuals to make a piece of art, then display it outside for the world to see. Participants can put the location of their art display into a Google map, creating a statewide art exhibit that people can visit, while still social distancing. The event will be May 30 and 31. —Courtesy

  • In this photo taken Sunday Dec. 1, 2013, Tomie dePaola laughs as he signs books at the Morgan Hill Bookstore in New London, N.H. The beloved children's author and illustrator has died at the age of 85. DePaola delighted generations with tales of Strega Nona, the kindly and helpful old witch in Italy. His literary agent says dePaola died Monday from surgery complications after taking a bad fall last week. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File) Jim Cole

  • Children's author and illustrator Tomie dePaola poses in his studio with artwork from his new book “Jack” in New London in 2013. AP file

  • Tomie dePaola, 82, of New London, the author and illustrator of the Strega Nona books and others, laughs with visitors during a signing event at the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vt., Saturday, November 26, 2016. He has now been publishing his stories for over 50 years. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to James M. Patterson

Granite State News Collaborative
Published: 5/24/2020 6:50:32 PM

Since stay-at-home orders took effect and schools closed, Casey Biuso, of New London, has noticed that her kids, who are 12, 10 and 7, are more interested in creating art. 

“The act of making art has broken up the monotony of being at home and being together,” Biuso said. “It’s helped them express themselves, or just squirrel away for a little bit of alone time.”

For Biuso, creating has given her a welcome distraction from the news. 

“In general for society, art is just a great way to escape for a little bit from the heavy questions,” she said. 

That’s exactly what Biuso hopes to facilitate by organizing Art in Your Yard, on May 30 and 31. The event encourages families and individuals to make a piece of art, then display it outside for the world to see. Participants can put the location of their art display into a Google map, creating a state-wide art exhibit that people can visit, while still social distancing. 

“It would be fun to get out of the house a little too,” Biuso said. 

Once she had the seed of an idea, Biuso reached out to her friend, Rosanna Long, an art appraiser who organizes an annual regional art show for kids through the New London Historical Society. This year, the show had to be done digitally, so the duo thought giving kids and families the change to create and display their works through Art in Your Yard was especially important. 

“In my vision, the perfect scenario is lots of varying degrees of participation,” Biuso said. She would like to see professional artists, families and kids participate. People who aren’t artistically inclined can even display pieces of art by others they have in their homes. 

“The more the merrier,” Long said. “Variety would make it even more fabulous.”

As they discussed the plans Long and Biuso realized that encouraging the community to come together around art was the perfect way to honor beloved children’s author Tomie dePaola, who died in March. dePaola lived in New London and was active in the local art community, so both Long and Biuso had spent time with him. 

“One of the things I found most magical about Tomie was that he seemed to gain a lot of joy in being around other artists and encouraging creativity in other artists, or anybody,” Long said. “He really wanted to share the joy of art with anyone and everyone.”

dePaola’s death was not related to coronavirus – he died of complications from surgery following a fall – but because he died during the pandemic, the community has not been able to mourn and honor him, Long said. 

“It came at a time when it wasn’t easy for the community to celebrate his life,” she said. “This seemed like a colorful, community-minded way to give everyone a chance to remember him in an artistic way.”

Long and Biuso reached out to dePaola’s assistant, who gave his blessing, although Art In Your Yard is not an official Tomie dePaola event. 

“We would have organized it without a nod to Tomie if his assistant hadn't been comfortable and supportive of the idea,” Long said. “But since he was, we thought it was a fitting tribute to allow our local community a public moment to celebrate his love of art and support of our area.”

In honor of dePaola, Long and Biuso hope that people will have fun, getting creative and enjoying the fruits of other people’s creativity. Creating art is the perfect activity for families stuck at home, and driving to the other displays is a good break from time at home, they said. 

“I have found for myself and my children, art [is] this wonderful combo of soothing and energizing and invigorating,” Long said. “It’s soothing to create something, to be in your own artistic, creative world. Then there’s a sense of accomplishment. It seems to be an almost universal comfort right.”

Art in Your Yard will take place on May 30 and 31, with a rain date of June 6 and 7. Get more information and add your location to the map online.

(These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit

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