ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jorge D'Soria has given extreme makeover a new meaning.
He is painting a replica of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel on the living room ceiling of his otherwise typical south Arlington home.
And that only begins to scratch the surface of his artistic pursuits.
A trained opera singer, D'Soria, 58, once shared the stage with Luciano Pavarotti at the San Diego Opera and now performs with his wife, Jewel Myers, 73, at retirement homes and other venues across town.
With just a little prodding, he will belt out a song as Myers accompanies him on the living-room piano.
His inspiration to replicate the Sistine Chapel began when the couple moved to Arlington a little over a year ago from California to live in a house owned by Myers' son, Tony Wade.
"I had the idea to paint this ceiling because I like Michelangelo's art," D'Soria said. "Really, I wanted to have some of his art and these are some of the most important ones in the Sistine Chapel — the creation of Adam and the creation of the sun and the moon and the Earth."
D'Soria's next project will be to create an Italian scene in the back yard, including sculpting a 9-foot replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa by the swimming pool.
The home is filled with photographs of D'Soria performing and his paintings, including a copy of the Mona Lisa that Wade wants for his own.
"That's my Mona Lisa," Wade said. "I tell him it's mine, but I don't think he's going to give it to me."
Wade, who is away for as long as three weeks of every month working as a truck driver, didn't hesitate when D'Soria broached the idea of creating a mural for the ceiling.
"I was all for it," Wade said. "It's a joy to come in from the road and see how much he's accomplished. But I don't know what I'll do if I ever sell the house. I guess it means I'll just never sell it."
Since moving to Arlington, the couple have spent most of their time performing across town at local retirement homes, women's clubs and other venues.
These shows are vitally important to Myers, whose first husband had Alzheimer's disease.
"Jorge has a gift for reaching out," Myers said. "It doesn't matter if the person has Alzheimer's or is disfigured somehow; he has great empathy for them and the ability to reach them. What you see happen at these shows can be very emotional and quite moving."
The couple, married for 11 years, met in San Diego where Myers played piano for what she jokingly called "the other three tenors." They share a love for performing, but Myers said the spotlight is firmly on her husband.
"I play the piano and know enough to shut up and let him sing," she said.
D'Soria also does impressions of Pavarotti, Charlie Chaplin and Peter Falk's old TV show detective, Columbo, and isn't above dressing up around the house.
"I looked up the other day and Abraham Lincoln was sitting across the table from me," Myers said.
Before moving to Texas, D'Soria was the artist in residence at the Aztec Motel in Monrovia, Calif., where he restored the murals in the hotel along Route 66. He also created 20 paintings in the same Aztec and Mayan styles that were prevalent in the hotel that dates to 1926.
Once all of the projects are complete at the house, the couple plan to bring people to the house to see the mural.
"We'll have concerts and let everyone see Jorge's paintings," Myers said. "A lot of the senior centers want to get people out in small groups, so we'll invite them here and have a little concert."
D'Soria is also offering to paint a free mural on a public building somewhere in Arlington or elsewhere in Tarrant County as a one-man beautification project and, he hopes, a chance to drum up some commissions.
The native of Aguascalientes, Mexico, has never seen the Sistine Chapel or any other part of Italy.
"I only know Italy through pictures and videos," said D'Soria, who studied the Vatican Web site and held printouts in his hand while he painted.
The couple hope to visit Italy, perhaps by performing on a cruise ship.
"I believe that we will," Myers said. "I think if you have a strong enough belief it will eventually happen. But if we take a trip to anywhere, it will be so he can get some murals done."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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