There’s a story and a memory to each painting and sculpture in this island home
Linda Marroquin’s house is small and sparsely furnished. There’s a dining table and eight purple chairs, a conversation area with a sofa for two and a companion seat nearby. But her house is filled with art — large, grandiose and ambitious projects, each with its own story and personal memory.
“I don’t find it loud,” Marroquin said. “I find it memorable because I have a story about each piece. They all mean something to me. I’ve traveled and found art all over the world and had it sent back to me. It’s all very special.”
Marroquin has lived in her 1940s home south of Broadway in Galveston for six years. Her house was once a tiny two-bedroom structure, but the previous owner raised it 12 feet and built out the existing attic to create a large master bedroom and combination bathroom and closet. He found old beadboard, stripped it down and covered the walls and some of the ceilings with the repurposed wood, which still shows signs of age and history. The exterior of the house is wrapped in cypress wood, which he found in Louisiana and had shipped to Galveston to complete his project just before Hurricane Ike hit the island in 2008. The two small rooms in the front of her house now serve as a sitting room and a guest room but are both filled with carefully selected art and sculptures.
“This house is great, but there were hardly any closets in the original house, except one under the stairs,” she said. “I’ve had to be creative to find storage areas.”
The largest closet is in the master suite, framed by large windows which pour in natural light. The space is shared with the master bath and vanity, along with a three-sided mirror and more art.
On the main floor, an L-shaped kitchen dominates the space, with an array of open shelves and eclectic mix of pottery, carvings, paintings and canvases filling in the nooks around the cabinets.
The blue pearl granite dining table — on wheels — in the combination dining/living room matches its twin, which is in a nearby sitting room. The second table is surrounded by four high-back black chairs by architect Frank Gehry and a flat Barcelona bench, which Marroquin uses when reading. Hanging on the wall in the sitting room is a huge 6-foot-by-6-foot painting by Jeanette Chinelli, an artist who now lives in Denver, who captured a tiny segment of a 16th-century Italian artist Bronzino-Agnolo di Cosimo painting of a cherub and blew it up to make an enormous angelic face that dominates the room.
“I just love that face,” she said.
The living room features a mixture of art: several large modern canvases by Houston artist Ibsen Espada and a 150-year-old copy of the 450-year-old “Summer,” by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who used fruits and vegetables to create heads and bodies of people in the paintings in the 1600s.
“Actually, I bought this at an auction and I was first fascinated by the frame,” she said. “But I fell in love with the painting of the woman, who is lying down.”
The downstairs of the house contains her office in a mauve painted room, where she runs her cabinet installation business, QQQ — Quick Qabinets Quality.
Marroquin has traveled frequently to South America, where she found unusual art pieces in Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and other countries, as well as in Egypt, Turkey and Italy. No corner or section of a wall or room is too insignificant to house a piece of art. Inside the closet, lining the bathroom walls, behind the table and up the staircase hang large and small pieces — each unique.
However, some of her most favorite pieces are not paintings but sculptures, made from wooden stumps and carved with intricate details and emotions. In the living room is a beautiful bust of a woman, in the bathroom is a large head of Napoleon or perhaps Julius Caesar and in her bedroom is an antique wooden dragon breathing fire and flames. However, her favorite is a speckled leopard made in India with mother-of-pearl spots and hand-carved features. He sits on a table, keeping watch in the room.
“All of my art has such special meaning and memories to me,” she said.