OCEAN CITY – The “Deco Diva” has taken on several business ventures since landing in the area over 20 years ago, but lately she is recognized for taking a mundane space and transforming it into a piece of art.
Glenda Denny of Berlin graduated from Iowa State University in 1969 with a degree in Applied Art and made her way eastward eventually landing in the Ocean City area and starting a multifaceted art career.
Denny, an independent artist for over 40 years, first become known in the area for painting designs atop whisky barrel heads and sold them at her shop, Barrel Art, in Shantytown.
Eventually Denny turned the store into G.J.’s Designs and the merchandise was expanded to offer T-shirts with hand crafted designs produced by silk screening as well as dog breed items.
Denny operated G.J.’s Designs for at least 20 years. Word over her designs began to spread around town and she began to grow her services to painting for different businesses and property owners, such as when the 94th Street mall first opened her barrel art designs could be found on top of the tables in the food court.
When Shantytown was razed, Denny opened Dumpster Diva, which she described as a gift store with an reputation for “fun trash finds turned into innovative treasures.” The store also became her base to offer her growing list of services and interior designing.
Dumpster Diva had originally been a garage that Denny transformed with materials she had uncovered in a storage unit that she bid on and won. The unit ended up being a diamond in the rough as it was someone’s entire life packed away who had traveled the world, and contained rare items such as unique fabrics, oriental tables and oriental rugs.
“I just made the whole place a showcase … I had completely transformed the whole place,” she said.
Denny could go on for hours telling many stories of how she would come across discarded items and what she would go through to save them.
“If I was a cartoonist, I would have the Adventures of Dumpster Diva,” she said. “I have had many adventures but after a while I figured out I couldn’t save the world. I saw potential in everything somebody else would throw away. It was fabulous, it was fun, it was rewarding and fulfilling.”
Some years later, Denny received an offer she couldn’t refuse and let her lease go at Dumpster Diva, which turned into an opportunity to become who she is today, the Deco Diva who is the faux finish lady and a “Jill of all trades.”
At this point in Denny’s career, she has come to specialize in original art, faux finishing, interior painting and decorating, color consultation, furniture touch ups, sewing and repairs, specialty lamps, “marble-izing”, wall glazes, cloud scapes, murals, pet portraits and much more.
“I don’t like to pigeonhole myself because I do such a vast array of things,” she said.
Her scope of specialties began when she signed on to help a friend who had been renovating a condo unit downtown and asked Denny to do some ceiling work with Venetian plaster and painting scenery, which Denny has never done before but she took on the task.
“So that got my foot in the door,” Denny said. “From there, I took a class in Rockville on faux finishing…it increased my knowledge on materials and techniques … I really like a creative challenge, and I love working on something new.”
Denny has a never ending list of projects she has completed in the area, including a friend’s porch that consisted of a plain cement slab that Denny painted to look like large pieces of Aztec tile with a round rug down to the detail of fringe around the edge.
She helped a local acupuncturist decorate her office by transforming fiberglass textured doors and painted them to resemble oak or walnut rosewood.
She has worked in a couple new restaurants in downtown Berlin, such as Tex Mex & Beyond where she created all the padded valances for sound proofing.
Denny’s favorite way to work is to pick, or have a property owner choose, one item of motivation whether it be a lamp or a pillow. She then takes that item and creates a color pallet around it and transforms an entire space to match that theme.
“I like to hunt to be able to get the items needed. If I’m out and I see bargains someplace, I will automatically buy those items knowing I will use them,” she said.
To learn more about Deco Diva visit www.decodiva.biz, or call Denny at 443-614-4152.