Escape in Downtown Artist’s Dreamy Desert Watercolor Paintings

From teacher to full-time artist, Mary Felker captures nature’s beauty

By  Zoneil Maharaj

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Mary Felker is a fixture in DTLV. You can spot her dreamy nature watercolors throughout the neighborhood, be it hanging in galleries or painted on walls. She also runs Hey Maker Co with Linen and Lace Designs at Fergusons Downtown where she gives budding artists a platform.

Mary’s success, however, might not have happened if it wasn’t for a leap of faith.

A Missouri native who moved to Las Vegas 15 years ago, Mary taught high school art for seven years. On weekends, she’d sell her work at local events like Market in the Alley.

“People started liking what I was making,” she says.

So did her students, so much so that one asked, “Why don’t you do art full-time?”

“She was like, ‘Listen, you need a life check. You’re a great teacher but you clearly love this art thing,’” Mary recalls.

In 2018, Mary saved up and became a full-time artist. It’s been a win-win for her and the community as her art celebrates Nevada’s natural beauty, inspiring a greater appreciation for the outdoors.

  • Photo by Zoneil Maharaj
  • Photo by Zoneil Maharaj
  • Photo by Zoneil Maharaj

“My primary focus has and always will be nature,” she says. “We are part of nature so we need to do a better job of connecting with it.”

She depicts it primarily through watercolor.

“Watercolor moves on the paper in a wild way and I love to play with the pigment on the paper in a wild way,” she says. “It’s been so fun to transition that style into different mediums like murals and acrylics.”

She recently painted a giant, 200-pound bingo ball for a group installation at MGM Grand, covering it in her signature cacti and pastel colors. She hopes it’ll introduce tourists to Nevada nature.

Mary also took over the backroom at Recycled Propaganda, turning it into a vibrant, immersive desert wonderland dubbed “Mojave Magic.” On display through May, the exhibit will make you forget you’re in the city. In case you get lost, there’s a sign above the exit that reads “Vegas this way.”

“My goal is to encourage people to find beauty in what’s around them, whether it’s nature or the city they live in,” she says. “I think that’s the most exciting thing as an artist. I get to depict a lot of beautiful things and share them with the world.”

For more stories like this, follow #HumansOfDTLV on Instagram.

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