Mural Project Brings Art, Mixed Feelings to Richmond

September 20, 2013

Online Story by Whitney Torres
Video Story by Vernon Freeman
VCU InSight

RICHMOND, Va. — The Richmond Mural Project has returned for its second year in Richmond, making the local landscape a little more colorful this summer.

The project, which was organized by art director Shane Pomajambo of Maryland, brought 20 new murals to the city of Richmond, including a boxer outside the Cary Street Gym, a panda on W. Cary Street and a row of faces across from the Siegel Center.

Two murals greet customers outside 821 Cafe on W. Cary Street. Andrew Clarke, the owner of the cafe, says the murals have been great for small businesses like his.

“We have people coming by snapping photos,” said Clarke. “A lot of the artists were coming in to get a sandwich or get a drink or something, so it was neat for people to watch them do their thing and to interact with them a little bit.”

“I think anything that puts a positive light and attention on your city is great,” Clarke added.

Pomajambo’s website describes the project as an effort to transform Richmond into a city of internationally recognized murals and, ultimately, a premier art destination. Organizers hope to bring over 100 murals to Richmond by the end of 2016.

Despite the warm reception from local business owners, some Richmonders have mixed feelings about the project. Ed Trask, a Richmond muralist, expressed disappointment that none of the muralists were from Richmond.

“I’m very protective of this city, because I love this city and I love its identity,” Trask said. “I don’t want to see our identity taken and turned into a canvas for a bunch of people who really don’t care about this city.”

Trask believes that street art should reflect the community and stories that are happening locally. Still, he is hopeful that the out-of-town muralists will inspire more local artists to get involved in future projects.

“Often it takes bringing some out-of-town talent into your city to shake up the locals,” Trask said.