CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — The Cumberland area before development is featured in a mural currently being painted downtown by a husband and wife team.
The art is located on the outdoor wall of Allegany Pawn at the corner of Centre Street and the downtown pedestrian mall in an area used as a transit stop. The artists are Elijah Thane, 27, and wife Marlee Lynn, 24, both from Allegany County.
“We wanted to do something beautiful, especially for the city I grew up in,” said Thane. “We saw this area here and thought it would be the perfect opportunity.”
The couple decided the site, which is largely urban, could use a brighter touch.
“This place was, well not an ugly wall, but an ordinary wall,” said Thane. “So we thought we could put some color in there.”
The couple approached Brian Grim, the owner of Allegany Pawn, who gave them the green light to paint the mural. Then the couple spoke to Let’s Beautify Cumberland! members as well as City Hall officials and the Historical Preservation Commission to get the approval.
The mural depicts the Potomac River running through the natural surroundings as it did thousands of years ago. The pastoral landscape is framed by Greek-style columns.
“The ancient feel is given by adding the Greek architecture,” said Lynn.
Thane, who grew up in a religious household in Oldtown, wasn’t exposed to a lot of art growing up.
“There wasn’t much art and I didn’t grow up with any TV,” he said. “I didn’t watch TV until I was like 13 years old. The art I saw was mainly storybooks. We would go to the library all the time and it was picture books with the illustrations.”
After being home-schooled for many years, Thane entered public high school.
“I did terrible,” said Thane. “It wasn’t working.” He ultimately drifted into a life of drugs and living on the streets. The lifestyle included a stint in jail.
“I saw the older people in jail and they all said they were there because of drugs,” said Thane. “I asked them what they were going to do when they got out and they said, ‘drugs.’ I thought, I can’t let this happen to me.”
Things began to turn around for Thane after a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
“That opened my eyes to art. I never thought it was possible. I had never seen art like that before,” he said.
He then began to study the classical and modern artists. He studied the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael and others. He finally made the decision to focus on art as a career and turned his life around.
Lynn followed a similar path.
“There was not much art growing up for me either,” said Lynn, who grew up in Lonaconing. “I wasn’t exposed to much art until high school when I took an art class.
“But when I went to high school I did enjoy the more in-depth projects we did. I went to Mountain Ridge (High School), but I did a lot of partying in high school. That is how I met Elijah. Just crazy stuff. I was aimless for awhile, too. But I got into nature and outdoors. I went to Garrett College to work in forestry and environment.
“We started working on the art together. Elijah showed me a lot. I love it. We have a lot of freedom. There is a lot to learn but we are entrepreneurs.”
Thane and Lynn have been making art, including several murals, for people across the United States and have been able to turn it into a business and make a living doing it. Their work can be seen at ElijahThane.com. Contact information for the couple is available on the site as well.
“What we enjoy most is when people come by and tell us how beautiful the mural is. It makes it all worthwhile,” said Thane.