Artists Linda Spencer and Roberto Regalado moved to Missouri a decade
ago to begin again
steps over building material stacked on the floor and around saw horses
covered with tools in the storefront property hes renovating. His
restaurant on the courthouse square in Buffalo opens in a few weeks and
Sepeda is busy talking to his carpenter, arranging for deliveries and
taking job applications. In the midst of all this bluster he sits down
to confer with his artists, Linda Spencer and Roberto Regalado.
Spencer and her husband and partner Roberto Regalado have worked as
professional muralists for 25 years. After beginning their careers
in southern California, both moved to Missouri to begin again in a
When customers walk
into La Fiesta an explosion of color and a 60-foot mural of a Mexican
coastal scene that runs the entire length of the dining area greets them.
The restaurant creates the feel of an outdoor café overlooking
an ocean and a small village. Wooden booths are painted intense shades
of purple, blue, red and turquoise. The blue sky and white clouds of the
mural continue into the ceiling giving the restaurant an open, breezy
We like to do
whole environments, says Linda who, along with her husband and partner
Roberto, owns Laughingwell Studio in Long Lane, a small town near Buffalo.
The artists specialize in murals, which they describe as architectural
art, as well as business decors. Their work in Sepedas restaurant
is an example of what they love to do create colorful, unusual
businesses environments that demand attention.
Another of their projects
is the Tres Hombres restaurant in Osage Beach, which is painted a garish
offensive, isnt it? says Roberto, laughing.
over the top, Linda says. It gets them noticed.
At La Fiesta not only
did Linda and Roberto paint the mural, they also designed tables, chairs
and other pieces of woodworking. They even designed the restaurant floor
of a Disneyfied concept to transport you somewhere, says Linda.
Americans eat out as entertainment. Its not just a meal. It
you have a theme restaurant then you have an opportunity to create a totally
different environment for people.
And as though on cue,
a roofing contractor walks into the restaurant to meet with Sepeda and
is stopped in his tracks when he sees the mural. Wow! he says.
Roberto and Linda have worked as muralists for 25 years. Both apprenticed
with large southern California mural studios in the late 1970s and then
traveled the country doing commercial paintings in restaurants, hotels,
casinos and other large public and private spaces.
A decade ago Linda,
who was raising teenagers from a previous marriage, decided southern California
was not the best place to bring up kids. Its also an expensive place
to live where buying even a small home is nearly beyond reach of most
In 1991, after visiting
family living in Springfield, Linda bought a small 100-year-old farmhouse
on 90 acres in Dallas County near Long Lane and set up her studio in the
garage. She was thrilled with her new home.
to own this much land in California, she says. We appreciate
nature. In southern California you can go to the beach, but 20,000 other
people will have beat you there.
But coming to Missouri
had its hardships as well. Linda had to re-establish herself as an artist
in an entirely new place and then tragedy struck the family when her 2-year-old
grandson was killed in a car accident. Despite her devastation, she continued
A couple of years
after Linda moved to rural Missouri, Roberto, a long-time friend and co-worker,
visited her while traveling from California to Florida for a mural job.
A year earlier his wife, only 31, had died of coronary heart disease.
Roberto fell in love not only with Missouri and the old farmhouse, but
with Linda, too. The two were married soon after and together established
their partnership and Laughingwell Studio, the name coming from the hardships
they each had recently faced.
who began painting as a youngster, became a professional mural artist
while still in high school.
We had been
through so much that it just seemed like a good name. Sometimes when bad
things happen you can still find some occasion for laughter, says
Roberto. It makes things better.
In the nearly 10 years
Roberto and Linda have been in business together they have done work throughout
the Midwest, especially in Springfield and the Lake of the Ozarks. They
have done art and décor for restaurants in Springfield, Osage Beach
and in the Kansas City area as well as restaurants throughout the Missouri
Ozarks and in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
As Roberto was joining
the business, Linda landed one of the largest projects she had ever attempted
and the one she calls the epitome of her career thus far. Springfields
Cox Medical Center South hired the artists who, over the course of eight
years, painted 35 murals, known as The Childrens Village,
on the walls of its pediatric ward. The huge project raised $500,000 for
the Childrens Miracle Network by selling wall space to businesses
that Roberto and Linda featured in the murals.
Village project meant a lot to Roberto and Linda not only for the exposure
it gave them, but also because they got to know many of the children being
treated at the hospital and their families. They often painted the names
of the young patients into the murals.
has done other mural projects closer to home. One is a 70-foot mural painted
on a concrete retaining wall at Larrys Cedar Resort at Bennett Spring
State Park near Lebanon. The scene is of the spring and spring branch
with fishermen casting for trout. Another outdoor mural is a farm scene
painted on a barn belonging to Bill and Vera Harrill of rural Lebanon.
In fact the Harrill
farm has now become home to the annual event Art on the Farm organized
by members of the Lebanon Art Guild including Linda and Roberto. In its
fourth year, the free outdoor event, scheduled this year for May 3-4,
brings together professional and amateur artists, as well as children,
to showcase their work. Art at the Farm also features workshops and an
Featured at the Art
at the Farm exhibit will be the personal work of both Roberto and Linda
who, surprisingly enough, paint in their spare time. Both award-winning
artists show their paintings in area exhibits and often are accepted into
Standing on Cedar
Street in Buffalo Linda admires the large, colorful sign for La Fiesta,
which has just been installed on the building. Roberto painted the name
of the restaurant in bright yellow letters that sit on a field of red
bougainvillea flowers. Its clearly the most noticeable sign on the
courthouse square. Linda notices one more thing that her husband apparently
you know you misspelled the studio name?
he replies in disbelief. I guess Ill have to get up there
and fix that.
Despite the mistake,
which can be fixed easily, the colorful sign invites customers into a
festive spot to eat just what the artists had in mind.
about Laughingwell Studios contact Linda Spencer and Roberto Regalado
at 1466 State Highway 32, Long Lane, MO 65590; (417) 345-8688; or e-mail
them at Laughing@todays-tech.com.