It started as a simple desire to create art. Now, 15 years later, a Tucumcari couple has made it their mission to transform the blank walls in town into their personal canvas.
They live outside of the lines and they draw outside of the lines.
“I’ve painted all my life. I slung a brush every day of my life just about,” muralist Douglas Quarles said.
Sharon and Doug Quarles moved to Tucumcari in 2003. In the last 15 years, they’ve brought the town to life one wall at a time.
“We came into Tucumcari and crossed the bridge here on [Highway] 104 coming in, and I saw all of this and these blank walls, and I said, ‘Well, you know, if I have to, I can still do some sign work, so…'” Doug Quarles recalled.
You’ll find their signature on more than 50 murals across a town they have literally mapped to a T—from the ranch scene and Conchas Dam Lake to Tucumcari Mountain and Route 66,
“I love doing research. I love the history of different locations,” Sharon Quarles said. “I get on the computer, go to the library, get literature and start reading and checking out old photographs from books and stuff.”
They are massive murals the city says are bringing in tourism.
“It’s a big tourist attraction and even the locals, you’ll see them going around looking at them too,” Tucumcari Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield said.
Their largest piece is along Route 66, called “The Legendary Road.” They say this piece marks a moment in history.
“I got the depot in there because of the train history…” Doug Quarles said. “Agriculture in there with an old tractor.”
The duo says it can take up to eight weeks to complete a mural.
They already have murals in the works for this year and they plan on opening a gallery in the next few months. They say their next piece in downtown Tucumcari will focus on Hispanic culture.