Friday, July 3, 2009

I See a Mural in Your Future

"I've been waiting for you for 10 years!" Pam Marcon trilled in welcome. That's how long friends have been urging her to tell the press about her murals. You would think the Arlington artist, who is also an astrologer, would have seen a sign.

Ten years ago: That's when her computer crashed and she decided to paint the back of the house. "I started at the back, and within eight hours, I had the first one done," she said.

The neighbors liked it and asked her to do the sides, too. But commissions were rolling in and the computer was back up, so it took eight years to complete the other three walls -- all, that is, but a little waterfall beside the front door that went on hold while she painted three airplanes for this spring's Crystal City Flight art show. It is a neck-breaking sight, particularly in winter when the trees are bare and the sides of the house are visible to passersby. She supplements the show in warmer months by lining up canvases in front of the porch.

Marcon has been painting since 1972, when a knee injury sidelined her dream of becoming a Rockette. There was another stab at show biz in 1979, when she joined Ringling Brothers as a showgirl, but she couldn't hack the close quarters. "I ran away from the circus," she said.

She has lived here 32 years, and as expected with starving artists, the house has begun a gentle decay. As is expected with artists, starving and otherwise, boundless creativity remains. So the house, inside and out, is a canvas.

The crumbling stucco walls add texture to the mural; cantilevered chunks have become mountain crags; gouges are chutes for waterfalls. Trees grow up the walls, covering this and that, and the tumble-down basement stairwell is a grotto.

Beside her "victory garden" -- planted with, she ticks off, "50 tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions, radish and corn. Ooh, and sunflowers!" -- is a shed that's becoming a Greek temple, with columns.

While she's adept at such realism, her passion is the "neo-primitive landscapes" that cover her house and her canvases. "Recession art. It doesn't cost a lot of money."

This story first appeared in the Washington Post

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