Meet me at the murals

Street art has gone all-city in the City of Richmond! If you attended the G40 First Fridays or the RVA Street Art Fest (RVASAF), you saw it, you felt it, and you were probably moved by it. The best part? It’s all still there. Head downtown and take it in again or for the first time.

Editor’s note: this article is part of an ongoing series about the incredible artists who participated in the RVA Street Art Fest. Get caught up here!

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Street art has gone all-city in the City of Richmond–I hope you noticed. The G40 murals, all 23 of them, are scattered around town and feature slam-into-parked-cars detail and magnetism. The energy and artwork on display at the recent RVA Street Art Fest electrified the whole city. If you attended the G40 First Fridays or the RVA Street Art Fest (RVASAF), you saw it, you felt it, and you were probably moved by it. The best part? It’s all still there. Head downtown and take it in again or for the first time.

Ham?, one of the artists who participated in RVASAF, loves the energy the RVA art infusion has brought to the region.

“Richmond is blooming right now. Because of G40 and the RVA Street Art Festival a ridiculous amount of murals have gone up in April alone. I hope RVA will continue to have mural fever.”

So while the art festing has finished (for now), a one of a kind, world-class art collection remains. When a sun drenched day keeps you out of the VMFA, and if you lack the patience for VCU to blow your mind with the Institute for Contemporary Art, remember that stunning thirty-foot paintings hang out in the sun, admission-free.

To assist with your journey, the generous folks at Art Whino who handed us the G40 graffiti gift also provide us a handy photo guide to each G40 mural, alongside detailed information on the diverse slate of international artists. They come from all corners of the world. ROA’s work on Bellytimber Tavern and Have a Nice Day Cafe represents his familiar style that recently graced the entrance of the seminal Art in the Streets exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The 2011 edition of this exhibit highlighted the ascendancy of street art by moving matters inside and featured ROA alongside the two most notorious street artists: the mysterious Banksy, and Obama poster creator, Shepard Fairey.

At the same time, the outdoor museum assembled during RVA Street Art Fest boasts eye popping larger than life art by amazing artists. While the G40 murals are scattered throughout the city, the RVASAF targeted the Shockoe Floodwall and James River Power Plant, a one-time notorious graffiti spot. Here the inimitable Ed Trask and local leader Jon Baliles, with a little help from their friends, gathered another highly credentialed slate of artists to transform this lifeless canvas. Many of these artists are world renown and a number of them have strong ties to the River City. Their works also hang inside–in galleries and museums around the world. Their creativity attaches to your favorite brands, decorates frequent destinations, and increasingly, culls our cultural conscience.

Jarrod Fergeson, owner of contemporary art gallery, J Fergeson Gallery, which ran a pop-up gallery in Shockoe Slip during RVASAF, was honored to participate in the festival, especially given that he is a bit of a street art enthusiast himself.

“The caliber of artists that Ed and Jon were able to bring to Richmond was amazing. I love seeing some of our hometown heroes’ work hanging next to those of internationally acclaimed artists. Despite the fame some of these guys enjoy, you can tell that the focus of curating this exhibit is on quality.”

A lot of capital style has collected at the power plant and sites of the other murals–street art is on the walls of our city and on the backs of our citizenry. Ham? commented on the diverse crowd that regularly gathers at the power plant:

“I love seeing everyone, young and old, enjoy the murals. It just goes to show that street art, no matter the medium, is something that everyone can enjoy.”

The works at the power plant combines much of what we love: art, design, history, nature, sunshine, and community. There you will find all kinds of people on a visit or on their new daily route. We have noted runners, bike commuters, downtown workers walking to lunch, mountain bikers returning from Buttermilk Trail, Segway tours, families touring the canal walk, couples on post-dinner strolls in the moonlight, out of town guests hitting the new RVA must-see, artists returning to the scene of the crime, in-laws, outlaws, and big-eyed babies–almost all of whom are amateur photographers. Maybe not the babies.

Mickael Broth, another of the RVASAF muralists, has checked out the scene himself:

“I’m happy more people are enjoying and exploring along the river and canal. The murals help bring people to an area they may not normally consider worth checking out, but I’m sure that once they do they’ll fall in love with the mix of history, industry, and nature. Not many places have what Richmond has in the James River. We’re extremely lucky.”

Co-chairman of the festival Jon Baliles tells us he expects cool things to come out of RVASAF, including a stop motion film of the festival and painting process and periodic events featuring invited guests and new artists. We encourage you to keep your eyes out for these exciting possibilities.

However, we also implore you to remember that, by definition, street art is temporary.

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If the massive murals downtown just aren’t enough for you, a couple of the artists who participated in the RVASAF have shows featuring some of their other work. Ham? will be showing some of his work and hanging out at West Coast Kix in Carytown tonight (May 25th) at 6:30pm. Also, you’ve got one more week to check out an installation of photos and paintings by Mickael Broth and Greg Bethman at Pibby’s Bicycle and Skate on Broad.

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Ted Elmore

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