Great white shark painting arriving at Marion Square

Honor Marks, local artist, works on a life-size acrylic painting of Mary Lee, the 13-foot shark sometimes found along the South Carolina coast, using photos on her smart tablet for exact detailing at her booth Friday in Marion Square.

Paul Zoeller

Anybody looking to mount a 16-foot great white shark on the wall? There are two handy choices. The first one, Mary Lee herself, lurks about 100 miles off Savannah right now.

The second is coming stroke by stroke to Marion Square.

Charleston artist Honor Marks is painting a life-size portrait of the almost 3,500-pound apex predator as she shows her work in the Piccolo Spoleto juried art exhibition, unscrolling the canvas as she goes.

Mary Lee cuts a figure, for sure. Her jagged teeth jut from a head that is at least twice the size of Marks’ own. Judy Manning of Charleston laughed as she took in the sight.

If Manning hung the painting in her house, “It would scare the pee out of my 2-year-old grandson,” she said.

Mary Lee is the great white that was radio-tagged off Cape Cod, Mass., in September by the research group Ocearch. She showed up off Isle of Palms in November, when a satellite ping indicated she wasn’t far out past the breakers. Since then she has roamed as far south as Florida, returned to the sea off Cape Cod and ventured to Bermuda.

The arrival in the Lowcountry of the huge, rarely seen creature fascinated people who began tracking her movements. Marks, who paints native species, is one of them.

“Just imagining the beautiful monsters who are here with us,” she said. “I think we need to be reminded of and acknowledge that there are things out there greater than us.”

Mary Lee can be adopted, by the way, all 16 feet of her.

“I’m open to bids,” Marks said, “for the right home.”

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