Local Artist Takes on A Three-Story Mural

Local Artist Takes on A Three-Story Mural

Wall of designs and bubbles adds to the portfolio of Marisela Rumberg.

Marisela Rumberg and the cherry-picker basket

Marisela Rumberg and the cherry-picker basket

Fairfax artist Marisela Rumberg is a painter, an art teacher, and fiber artist, but this summer, she found herself in a cherry-picker basket, painting a mural on the side of an apartment building nearly 40 feet over the streets of Culpeper in southwestern Virginia. That’s what it takes to be an artist these days.

“This is the craziest thing I’ve done in my life,” Rumberg said. “I can’t look down because I panic,” she said.

It all started earlier in summer when she was teaching a class in Culpeper, and at the end of the class, she asked if there was another project. An apartment owner stepped up and suggested a mural on the side of his three-story building. Rumberg was glad to accept the challenge and started thinking about the design immediately. What she didn’t think about was being in a cherry-picker lift, where she ran the controls and there was nothing between the basket and the ground.

On day one, she looked at the basket and was a little apprehensive, but it all finally came together. “I’m loving it,” she said. In the town of Culpeper, she’s turned into a little bit of a celebrity. “The residents of the building, they come out a lot,” she said, and once she announced it on her social media, followers began to write back and visit. “A bunch of social media followers bring me snacks,” she said.

Marisela Rumberg 


Her design is basically a black and white picture of lines, bubbles and shapes but she promises to put a little bit of color in the middle. Her sons came out one day and helped paint some of the piece near the ground, but she is the only one in the cherry-picker basket.

Rumberg tries to get out there every day but it usually ends up being a few times a week because of weather and the equipment operator schedules. She’s on schedule to finish the mural in about the second week of August if everything goes right. One time, she panicked though and froze up, and if it wasn’t for one of the residents she calls “Super George,” to help her out they might have had to get the fire department out there with their ladders.

From Mexico to Mural Artist

Rumberg was born and raised in Mexico and has a degree in International Economics and a job with Fairfax County as a Spanish-English interpreter. She owes her skills in art to her grandfather who was a chef and painter. Although her mother used to design clothes for her and her sister, Rumberg didn’t become interested in fiber arts until she married and moved to the U.S. Rumberg began taking a few quilting classes before moving on to the Workhouse Arts Center in 2015 and The Torpedo Factory Arts Center a year later.

She has become a Certified Zentangle Teacher and has developed her signature style of incorporating sophisticated fiber arts and mixed media techniques such as eco-printing, wet cyanotype, thread painting, fiber sculpting, abstract drawing and more recently abstract painting, into her work. There’s a little “Zentangle,” in her building mural design too.

Her quilting skills grew, and now she is an award-winning quilter whose work has been exhibited in five countries on three continents, several times at the Houston International Quilt show, and published in several art-quilt books. Birds are a big topic she incorporates in her works, as well as historic Mexico.

The closest thing to a mural in her career is one of the LOVE statues that were being painted a few years ago. Rumberg painted the one in Occoquan, which she refers to as her first mural. “That was small compared to the giant building,” she said.