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Chelsea Marie, A Budding Local Artist

You see Chelsea Marie at Ladue's Deer Creek Coffee, but her real calling is mural art and illustrations.

Sometimes, famous people just don’t need a last name. Look at Madonna. How about Rihanna? The great soccer player Pelé? Artists such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo or Titian?

Chelsea Marie (Ritter Soronen) would like to be known by her surname too.

This 24-year-old is carving out a career as a mural artist and illustrator in her adopted community of St. Louis. By day, she works 20 to 30 hours a week at Deer Creek Coffee in Ladue. By mid-day, she’s off to her 50-hour a week routine as a mural painter and illustrator, with gigs across the community.

She lives with her two cats in Richmond Heights.

Although not famous or rich yet, she’d love to combine her passion for serving charity and nonprofits with her motivating work in art.

A 2008 graduate of Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts, she is slowly making her way into the local art world.

Ladue residents in particular appreciate her skills. She’s painted wall and ceiling murals and is currently working on a soccer theme for a man cave.

The statement on her website says it all.

“My first mural was on the ceiling of my bedroom in Columbus, OH.   While the Sharpie-drawn picture of a misconstrued globe of the world was certainly no masterpiece, I instantly became addicted to transforming images from my sketchbook into larger-than-life paintings! And,it was then that I realized that “canvases” were all around me; the possibilities for murals were everywhere, on every blank wall in the neighborhood! Thankfully, my parents were supportive and probably realized that allowing me to draw on my ceiling and walls saved their furniture and bookshelves.”

Her first real foray into scene painting came at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis as an undergraduate. She was majoring in costume design when the artists’ bug bit once more. “That made for a great education. Webster (University) has one of the best theatre programs in America.” She had a major role painting scenery for Angels in America at the Rep.

“She did a great job. The show worked well, and the scenes looked really good,” said The Rep’s Artistic Director Steven Woolf. “No question, she is a talented artist, and she has a love for environmental issues. She was unique among the many people who come through the program."

Chelsea Marie spends copious amounts of time with her clients. She does chalk renderings and will do full color sketches before ever putting brush to paint. “We always work up a budget and a time line before I ever get started,” she said.

She likes to be around the people she is working for. “Constant interaction leads to constant feedback and that helps the end product,” she said. But, “working around children and pets can be another issue.”

“I had a dog who sniffed his nose in my paint. He went around with a bright blue nose for a while,” she said, grinning.

A lot of her work has been for local restaurants. In addition to murals, she designs the daily menu signboards. She recently won an award for the original work she did for Robust, a new eatery in Webster Groves. Presently, she is working on a hallway project at an apartment building in South St. Louis City.

“The owner wants to increase the value of the building. He wants a little more punch,” she said.

She loves the mural painted on the exterior of the brick Sheraton Hotel in downtown St. Louis along Highway 40.

“St. Louis needs more public art. “Painting the exterior of buildings certainly is a good way for an artist to leave his mark,” she said.

She says she concentrates better painting while listening to music on her iPod and dials up a lot of reggae music. She is fond of the Washington D.C. band Thievery Corporation, and she enjoys listening to African artist Angelique Kidjo.

If all goes well, lot’s of people will be looking for the work of local artist Chelsea Marie, and no additional last name will be necessary.

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