Creativity of Schenectady muralist gives new life to old furniture, rooms

Rosemary Prock can turn a child's bedroom into a jungle, the bathroom of a family's log cabin home i

Rosemary Prock can turn a child’s bedroom into a jungle, the bathroom of a family’s log cabin home into a forest and give an aged armoire a new beginning.

Prock is an artist who specializes in custom murals and hand-painted furniture. She and her daughter Lauren run the Sow’s Ear gift shop on Upper Union Street.

Sow’s Ear includes a store offering the work of 20 local artists, including both Rosemary and Lauren, and a classroom where people learn simple bead and pendant making out of clay, jewelry craft and cynotype photography upstairs.

“The name comes from the saying ‘You can’t change a sow’s ear into a silk purse,’ ” said Prock. Many of the furniture pieces she paints were once “sow’s ears” she picked up at garage sales or auctions.

Prock has been painting professionally for 40 years. Her first professional job was a mural on the side of D’Andrea’s liquor store on Saratoga Springs’ West Side. She was only a junior at the State University of New York at New Paltz at the time.

“It’s actually still there, but it’s not my greatest work,” Prock said, who did the project for extra cash. “It was one of my first attempts at such a large project.”

Since then, Prock has painted countless mural and faux finish projects, hundreds in the Capital Region alone.

Most of her work is in homes, although she has undertaken a few commercial projects including a mural at the American Italian Heritage Museum in Albany depicting the journey of immigrants from Italy to America.

The scope of her work varies greatly, from murals that cover an entire room to decorative accents.

“It really depends on what people want. Sometimes clients want my work to be the focal point of the room or sometimes they want something to enhance what’s already in there,” Prock said.

Each of Prock’s projects is unique. “If you’re going to pay for a custom piece of work, then it should truly be a custom piece of work,” she said.

The artist said she sees what she does as a sort of rebirth for the pieces she creates and the homes she works with. “We are really big on recycling here,” said Prock. “I guess you might say we at the studio were some of the first to be in with the green movement.”

Larger, more detailed work can take three weeks to finish, while smaller projects can take as little as a few days. Most projects are also deeply researched to fit the client’s style.

“[Art] feeds the soul,” said Prock. “I think it’s important for people to be able to nurture themselves with something, especially in these times of recession.”

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