Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rooms With Views or Ode to a Closet Artist

Mary Hendon was a quiet woman who mostly kept to herself. She took trips to Lexington, MO (20 minutes drive from her house) to research old architecture and local history. I heard rumors about her talent as an artist and that she had painted murals all over her house. But when I would meet her and hint at visiting to view her works, she was not forthcoming with an invitation. Seems she painted strictly for her own enjoyment and did not care if anyone ever saw her work. She did not need public attention nor praise.

Mary died last year, from a cancer she had been battling for awhile. She died just about two weeks after her husband, who was also terminal with cancer. A college aged grandson had inherited the house and lived in it briefly. Last week my in-laws bought the house, and finally, I was able to see what everyone talked about (how is it that everyone got to see the house but me?)

The kitchen is set in Italy, with a view of a villa from a wrought iron veranda (the broom leaning against the wall is real). A small lizard scales the wall above the pantry.

The servants' back staircase leading from the kitchen is lined with a dark, story book forest featuring Little Red Riding Hood peering timidly from behind a tree on one side, while a troll/ gnome, snoozes beneath a tree on the other side.

Downstairs, just beyond the front foyer, is the impressive hallway that leads to a bathroom, mudroom and kitchen at the back of the house. The hall is made even more majestic painted up to look like a castle's interior.

The castle seems to be in a tropical location as witnessed by the palm tree "outside". Maybe belonging to a pirate king?

The painted masonery is SO realistic under the stairs that I expect to feel the crevices when I reach out to touch the wall.

A yacht sails up the stairs.

This faux mirror fools me each time I walk up the stairs. I come up to the to landing, expecting to see my reflection, and then don't!

The scenery up the staircase is a little blank, but the architectural arch is quite impressive. I cannot imagine the insane scaffolding that had to be constructed on the stairs to reach that wall for painting!

On the upper landing is yet another window with an unfinished view. Mary's home was definitely her personal castle. I would have liked to have seen this place with her furnishings in it!
The amazing thing is that this beautiful craftsman house exists in a tiny po-dunk, Missouri town with a population of less than 500 (I live just 3 blocks away).
In a shed behind the grand house, among a bunch of old library discard books, I found a coffee table book that had to be Mary's inspiration.
Weird Rooms by Mal and Sandra Sharpe.
Photos by Alexander Vertikoff.
I have it for sale in my etsy shop.


~*~Patty said...

WOW one never knows what's behind closed doors do we!

Very cool, so much to take in!

La Dolce Vita said...

well that is the wonder of po-dunk never right it off! amazing and the book must be interesting too!
have a great 4th!!

Linda said...

That is amazing! What a fun house! Your kids must love it!?? And you've already found stuff in the shed!!! hee hee!

Jeanie said...

Please tell me that your in-laws aren't going to repaint. Those murals are little treasures. Big treasures. Do you paint? Maybe you can finish up the incomplete ones!

Happy July 4! Enjoy!

Sarah said...

I'll bet that from the outside of the house you would never expect to find such treasure within.
You never know what you will find in po-dunk MO towns....I found my husband in one!!!

Margaret said...

Awesome Nathalie! I so love the fantasy of it all, brilliant!

ooglebloops said...

Wow!!!Treasure seems to be the only appropriate descriptive word!!! Hope they are not going to paint over it???

bad penny said...

WOW !!! Fabulous ! I have no idea what a po- dunk town is though !

Anonymous said...


Kraxpelax said...

Happy Misogyn Wallpapers

Wanda H said...

Wow!!! That is amazing!!! I just found your blog after googling your name because I saw your screen atcs in Somerset Studio Gallery. Way cool atcs and I knew I had to do one (probably more) with screen... I have and it's on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

THAT was such a lovely story Nathalie.

But I feel a little sad, was Mary not a recognised artist?

She must be smiling from her little corner now, knowing that her 'castle' will be appreciated and loved!!!

Useful Books said...

That's a great story. Kind of bittersweet. Leaves me a little sad as well, but I'm not sure why. She took joy in what she did. Thanks for sharing it.