We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Felker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, how do you think about risk?
Taking risks is part of choosing to build a creative career. Society tells us that it isn’t just risky but that it would not in any way be lucrative to become a full-time artist. Like a responsible adult I listened to society and entered the art world as a high school art teacher for seven years. Within that career as an art teacher I started selling my art and found that people enjoyed it so I decided I should pursue selling my work further.
There was a pivotal moment where I took risk within my Art Education career and decided that instead of pursuing my Masters in Education I would stop and instead invest my time and energy into my Art Business. This was a BIG decision that I took a lot of time to consider because I knew it was an actual fork in the road that would determine my entire future.
Once I decided to stop pursuing a Master’s in Education and set my goals for my art career things started to blossom within my art career. That next school year I decided to quit my Art education career and focus entirely on being a full-time artist.
Since those risks that I’ve taken I have opened a shop, designed covers of magazines, and painted several murals. I can’t wait to see what new risks I get to take to keep pursuing my art!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I work in a magical place called Las Vegas, NV and it is in the Mojave Desert. I started my work as an artist focusing on mountains and rock climbing and transitioned into celebrating everything about Vegas from vintage Vegas signs, current Vegas culture, to the beauty of the Mojave Desert.
When someone sees my art I want them to feel happy and adventurous with the bright vivacious colors, desert landscapes, and Vegas scenes. I think what sets me apart from other landscape artists is my use of color. Everything I make is vibrant and evokes a sense of celebration of the beauty of the desert.
My primary medium that I work in is Watercolor. I utilize my knowledge of all mediums from teaching art to integrate watercolor techniques into my bigger mural and canvas work done in other forms of paint like latex and acrylic. I have recently been transcending my subjects into soft sculpture inside @recycledpropaganda gallery that I took over.
I got to where I am by saying YES to a lot of things. It was a challenge because when I was saying yes to a lot of things I was also working full-time as an art teacher. Once I transitioned into a full-time artist I got to keep saying yes to a lot of things but I got to start saying no and being selective about the work I chose as more opportunities came my way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I LOVE Vegas and I think there is a lot to experience in Vegas that is unique.
In the day time we’d go hiking at Red Rock Canyon, Skiing in Mount Charleston, and shopping in the Vintage Vegas shops in the Arts district.
At night we would go to CraftHaus for a LOCAL beer, Good Pie for AMAZING Pizza, and ReBar for a vintage Vegas late cocktail.
Our next night would be in the Fremont area where we would go dinner at Tacotarian, drinks at Park on Fremont where there is a secret seesaw, and late night dancing at Disco Pussy & Oddfellows.
The final night would be on the strip where we would see Fine Art at The Cosmopolitan and eat at Little Portland, grab a drink at a cocktail bar, and finish up in the Bellagio with views of the Bellagio garden and water fountain show.
We would have brunch at PublicUs followed by coffee & shopping at Ferguson’s Downtown where I own a shop called “Hey Maker & Us.”
I could keep going and going and going because Vegas has endless possibilities! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To my best girlfriends who support me in everything. I love you Bre, Mili, Ashley, Abbie, & Jody.
To my mother who has become my best friend and allowed me to blossom into who I am now no matter what our beliefs are.
To the community of Las Vegas for always coming out to support me.
To my boyfriend Herb. You’ve been a wonderful support around every corner we have turned and I can’t wait to keep turning art corners with you in my life.