November-December 2014 | PAINTING THE TOWN




Pam Mason and Kathy Denk’s close friendship has created some of the region’s most beautiful mural art

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Grant L. Gursky

Sure, Pam Mason and Kathy Denk are good friends. But they are also more than that. They are, as most would agree, among the most sought-after mural painters in the region.

The two women met through mutual friends in 1986, when they were barely out of high school. Raised in D.C. and Baltimore, Pam couldn’t get enough of the Eastern Shore and had been coming here in the summers during college, where she was studying studio art. Kathy, meanwhile, was emerging as a nail-art superstar, having won more than a dozen awards in addition to an East Coast championship. As they kept running into each other at art-and-craft shows and other Eastern Shore-based events, their friendship grew. Interestingly — and just as coincidentally — the two developing artists received their first individual commissions to paint a mural within a year of each other, with Kathy having been hired to create one for The Embers in 1997, while Pam had a private-home job in Fenwick Island.

With the new millennium right on the horizon, Pam was finally able to fulfill a dream by relocating permanently to the Eastern Shore. It was soon thereafter that she not only reconnected with her old friend but also found a brand-new collaborator.

“I was hired to paint a mural in a private home, and I’d been aware that Pam had moved to the Shore,” recalled Kathy from the bright and breezy sunroom of Pam’s lovely home in Berlin. “I didn’t especially enjoy painting clouds at that time, but I knew Pam liked painting them and was good at it, so I asked her if she wanted to join me on the project.”

“For me,” added Pam, “it represented the opportunity to spend more time hanging out with my buddy Kathy.” There, forged in enamel, a partnership was born.

The collaboration came easily to them. Each possessed certain strengths, and they liked having someone on-site whose eyes and judgment they could trust.

“Oh yeah, we critique each other’s work on the job all the time,” offered Pam, “but that works for us because I think we make each other better as artists, which is really what it’s all about.”

Though the two painters emphasize that each is eminently capable of executing anything that a mural tableau may require, they add that whereas Pam has a seemingly natural facility with skies, clouds and various forms of still life, Kathy especially shines when it comes to animated subjects.

More than 150 collaborations later, the result is splashes of art and beauty that stretch from here to Annapolis. Locally, their work may be seen at places such as the Wicomico Yacht Club in Eden, Henlopen City Oyster House in Rehoboth Beach, Berlin Animal Hospital in Berlin, The Dough Roller, Blue Fish Restaurant, Dead Freddies, Harrison’s Harbor Watch Restaurant, BJ’s on the Water, Gateway Grand, Sunset Bay, Fountainhead Towers and Econo Lodge in Ocean City, in addition to dozens of private commissions in the homes of some of the region’s most prominent citizens.

These days it’s none other than Leighton Moore who’s keeping the ladies’ dance card filled over at Seacrets, where the tandem has been convening throughout the year in the ongoing beautification of one of Ocean City’s most febrile hotspots.

Whether it’s indoors or out, most jobs take anywhere from a few days (in the case of, say, one interior wall of a condo) to a month (for the exterior of an entire building) to complete, depending on the overall square footage. Exteriors take longer for a variety of reasons, including weather conditions, surface textures and the fact that virtually all exteriors require multiple coats for the results to last.

“Weather conditions aside, it’s pretty much the paint and the brushes that determine how your painting day goes,” Kathy said.

Of course, the wide variation of factors and conditions from one job to another dictate a commensurately wide variation in price for one of Pam and Kathy’s evocative creations. But the two say they have become extremely adept at creating mural art that works within almost any patron’s budget.

All things considered, life is good these days for Pam Mason and Kathy Denk. Not only are they blessed with as much youthful vigor as they have artistic talent, there are, as Pam put it, “still a whole lot of walls to paint in this town.”

Pam Paints Paradise on Facebook
Kathy Denk Paints on Facebook

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