Several beautiful creations, including the one seen above, were done by artist Bruce Marzahn, but the technique could be used by anyone. I saw the screens and other creations by Marzahn last year at his properties at 165 and 167 Prospect Ave., Buffalo, during Garden Walk Buffalo.
Garden Walk Buffalo is the largest garden tour in the United States and will be held this year from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28. You can still sign up to show your garden on Garden Walk Buffalo; the entry deadline is May 15.
The painted window screens are an East Baltimore folk art tradition, said Marzahn, who is retired from teaching at Buffalo State College and Daemen College and also taught briefly at Canisius College. The screens were popular from the 1930s through the 1960s when people didn’t have air conditioning. To try to keep cool, you had to keep your windows open and your curtains pulled wide apart, but that left you with little privacy.
Painting the window screens makes it difficult for people to see inside your home, but still allows breezes to drift in. The screens are decorative, too.
Marzahn simply cut a piece of black plastic screen about four or five inches larger than the frame. He painted the flowers on the screens using inexpensive acrylic paint (the liquid kind, not the paint in a tube). When the paint was dry, he inserted the screen into the frame.
After several years, the sun is fading the paint, he noted. If you have triple-track windows, you could remove the screen during the winter.
While he identifies himself as a painter, Marzahn said he does more digital media now and is into outdoor living spaces. You can see the kitchen and entertainment area he built on a deck in his back yard.
The deck was built around the lilac bush, which you can see in the photo above left.
The sink, which you can see above right, actually works. It’s not high-tech; a hose supplies the water and the water drains into the ground. The sink came from an apartment that was being renovated, and the curtains and plates take it over the top.
The wall, which you can see below left, is three-dimensional. Wooden chair backs, plastic chair backs, grates, hoses, decorative wood pieces and mechanical parts are collaged onto the wall. A coat of black paint helps gives the piece uniformity.
Another collage was created in the concrete patio. Objects pressed into the concrete include a brush too stiff to use, a metal cross, keys, machine parts, bottle caps, marbles, shells, spoons, perfume bottles, tools, small tiles, hinges and dice.
Take inspiration from Marzahn and get creative using found objects in your yard.
Photos by Connie Oswald Stofko