MONA SHIELD PAYNE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Friday, Aug. 14, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Connie Burnett Ferraro may be best known as the wife of former Boulder City Mayor Bob Ferraro, but for the past several years the one-time professional dancer has made a name for herself as a hometown muralist. Her work can be found on several exterior and interior walls in Boulder City, including the length of Darwin’s Auction House at Yucca Street and Nevada Way on the way into Boulder City.
Can you tell us about your life as a dancer?
After high school, I went to New York City. I didn’t know anybody. I was very, very shy. I don’t know how I had the guts to do that. I started doing auditions, and I got into a tap act with Ted Lewis in a vaudeville show. We toured all over the United States. I did a lot of Broadway and a lot of TV, you know, variety shows. I did sing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” by myself. I had one line. This is my claim to fame.
How did you get into art?
While I was dancing, I started going to the Art Students League. I studied on and off for about nine years.
Why did you decide to leave New York?
I was living on the Upper West Side, and at that time, this was the 1980s, it was very bad. There was so much crime on the Upper West Side, I thought, “I’m getting out of here.” I went back recently, and my old neighborhood was the trendiest place to be.
What about your first mural?
The Where on Earth rock shop had a contest for somebody to come up with a poster of the history of Boulder City. There were only five entries, and three of them were from children. I won and got $200. They were going to have somebody put it on the side of their wall, but it didn’t happen and it didn’t happen. I said I can try it. I had no idea how to put it on a wall. I didn’t know about gridding. So I got to a point where there was this huge space. That’s why that mountain sheep is up there. And I’m scared of heights. I was holding onto the wall. It was horrible.
Did being the mayor’s wife affect your art?
People would say, “Oh you get jobs because you’re the mayor’s wife.” But now I can say I’m not the mayor’s wife anymore, and I’m still doing murals.
When you walk around Boulder City and see your work, what do you think?
I see things I’d like to paint over — like the bowling alley one, that’s my worst one. I went in and said, “Please just paint over this.” It’s all faded. I would even do it for them.