Pamela Silin-Palmer
Decorative Artist, Illustrator and Fine Artist



Traditional Disciplines Applied with Contemporary Spirit
By Hunter Drohojowska
© Architectural Digest, May 1991

Page 3

Mark Evans and Charley Brown began their San Francisco-based collaboration six years ago. Although at first excited by the murals at the Villa Maser and the Palazzo Labia in Venice, they now create wall, ceiling and floor paintings ranging in style from the Italian Baroque to 1930s Americana to contemporary imagery.

Evans has a fine-arts degree from Indiana University and Brown has a master of fine arts from Humboldt State University. Evans worked in advertising for a time, while Brown exhibited at galleries, but both were unsatisfied until their foray into decorative painting, a career that got its start when they decorated their own house in a manner they describe as "bombed-out palazzo." "It was fun, and we saw potential for a historic art form in a contemporary setting," says Evans. Soon, designers were offering them commissions. Brown, along with assistants, recently completed seven ceilings for a residence in Hawaii.

ABOVE: Carlo Marchiori's mural of a country festival, painted in a manner inspired by Tiepolo, is an inventive interpretation of 18th-century Venetian painting that reveals the artist's appreciation for his Italian heritage.
Photo by Douglas Keister

In the master bedroom, he painted a view of the sky above an arched trellis supported by columns and stone putti.

"Our works are not copies of existing murals," explains Brown. "We do a lot of research on a period and then paint in that style -- which is more interesting." Evans notes, "There is often an element of surrealism. We try to put a twist on everything we do."

Garth Benton, a cousin of the painter Thomas Hart Benton, has been interested in art since the time his father gave him a book on his counsin's paintings. He went on to study art at Art Center College of Design and at UCLA. In 1971 he received his most important assignment -- murals for the J. Paul Getty Museum. He won the commission with extensive renderings in the first-century-Roman style based on his research at the Metropolitan's cubiculum -- a rebuilt Pompeian room with original frescoes.

ABOVE: Tropical foliage and fantasy architecture in Renaissance and Baroque styles are integrated into a ceiling mural by Mark Evans and Charley Brown -- one of a series of seven commissioned for a Honolulu residence.
Photo by David Papas

He makes similar investigations for many of his murals, drawing upon stylistic influences that include ancient Chinese, seventeenth-century French, Indian and Art Deco. "By reading, studying and researching, I immerse myself in the culture and art history of a particular civilization," Benton has said. "I rarely just copy existing art. Rather, I interpret. What emerges is new art, painted by me."

Carlo Marchiori, who lives in San Francisco and Calistoga says, "I paint because I am Venetian, educated and influenced by Palladio, the Bassanos, Veronese and the Tiepolos. They lived in my neighborhood. love to speak through my work about this culture, in their very dialect and with their airs and visions."


Marchiori's murals are reminiscent of frescoes found in Italian villas. he went to art school in Padua and to the Instituto d'Arte in Venice, graduating with a master's degree. His education stressed the established techniques of decorative art-- fresco, trompe-l'oeil, perspective and drawing in a disciplined studio environment. At first he worked in comercial art, including animation. But after moving to California ten years ago, he returned to his heritage. "I like large projects where I can interpret the Palladian style. I make it whimisical and my own, otherwise it has no life." His mural of a country festival in Italy is in the style of Tiepolo, but he relies on his memory as much as on art history. "I went all over the world and realized my roots were quite interesting," says Marchiori. "If I had stayed at home, in Italy, I probably would never have recognized this."

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