'This Is A Delicious Time In My Life' Muralist Says



The murals artist Elizabeth Silver painted on the ceiling of her Princeton University dorm room have long been painted over by a friendly janitor who kept her secret.

"Now I find it is much more convenient to paint on large boards (for myself), because you can't really take a wall with you," Silver said.

But folks who have ever stepped out onto the dance floor at the Oxbow or walked by the entrance to the poker room at the Mazatzal Casino have seen her murals.

"I like to paint big," Silver said. "I don't have to, but I like to."

Her grandfather may have provided the impetus for creating on a large scale when Silver was a child.

There was a stucco wall with all kinds of cracks in it between her childhood home and a neighbor's home.

"My grandfather was an ear, nose and throat surgeon; he was also an artist," Silver said. "One day when he was visiting he said, let's go paint vines on the wall so it looks like there is a reason for the cracks."

Armed with paints and brushes, they spent the day together laughing and making leaves and tendrils climb the wall.

"The next day the wall fell into the neighbor's yard," Silver said, and then laughed at the memory.

Later, although she took enough art history classes to make that her major, she did not write her thesis in art, but in theater.


This rabbit is part of a mural that covers three walls in the employees' hallway at Mazatzal Casino. Bears, a coyote, a chipmunk and other local fauna are wandering through the scenes that Elizabeth Silver spent 400 hours creating. The challenge of the project was for Silver to create an expansive scene that would make people feel uplifted.

Silver wrote and produced two plays while at Princeton. -- The first, about 16th century philosopher/poet Giordano Bruno who believed the earth moved around the Sun. The second was about Menkaure, the Egyptian king who built the third pyramid at Giza.

Silver spent the 70s and 80s as a wife and mother. The Silvers and their four children lived in Alaska and California before they moved to Arizona in 1984.

Silver taught art part-time in the Valley.

She relocated to the Rim Country in 1991 after friends told her what a great place it was.

When the opportunity to teach at the Shelby School in Tonto Village presented itself, Silver took it.

"I love working with the students," she said.

She finds a way to match the art project to the curricula, for instance when her students were studying China they made a 30-foot long dragon out of fabric, paint and PVC pipe with a mouth that opened and closed. As an English project, students took a word and made an art poster out of the word.

Local artisans and friends Donna Rokoff and Barbara Boursheidt (she has since moved) piqued Silver's interest in clay four years ago.

She brought the techniques she learned for working with simple-bodied clays into the classroom.

Each year, students create new porcelain tiles used to beautify the school grounds.

"My family and the school are my greatest joys," Silver said. "This is a delicious time in my life."



Liz Silver designed and created this kitchen backsplash out of tile for a client.

Name: Elizabeth Silver

Mediums: Sculpture, murals, portraits, pottery

Advice to beginning artists: Do it. Don't be scared. Have fun. Make lots of mistakes, because mistakes can transform you.

What make me happiest: Seeing children loving art and working together on projects.

Motto: Be kind.

Why Payson/Tonto Basin? I had best friends here.

Upcoming project: I have so many pictures in my head I want to paint.


Author: Shakespeare

Musician: Bach

Movie: There are way too many to pick just one.

Points of contact: (928) 478-4185 or e-mail silvereliz2002@yahoo.com

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