Wetiko Talks Murals in Charlottesville, Virginia

Knowing we would be staying in Charlottesville, Virginia, for a decent amount of time, I started reaching out to locals to find out what Charlottesville had to offer a traveling artist. I was interested in large walls to paint on, whether that be free walls or paid gigs. A bit of Google research showed me a few interesting things in the world of Murals and Art going on in Charlottesville.

  • First off, there was talk of Shepard Fairey wanting to donate a mural near the site where Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist car attack on August 12, 2017. The amount of information online wasn't substantial, however it was ultimately turned down.
Shepard Fairey's proposed design for Charlottesville, Va.

Shepard Fairey's proposed design for Charlottesville, Va.

The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative was supporting the proposed mural, which featured leaves with the faces of Heyer and several other people. It won support from businesses along Fourth Street and other city stakeholders, but Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, said she had problems with the design.

"My wish all along has been, if there's going to be a mural that it has something to do to express the events of that day," said Bro. "At least the counterprotesters who were there in great numbers, many colors, many religions, many beliefs, many gender types."

Seeing the chalk covered intersection where she was struck was a powerful moment for me. I don't know if I will ever forget walking up to that. My personal belief is if an artist of such fame wants to donate a mural that supports a powerful message such as this, let it go up. There are thousands of walls, for thousands of artists to make a statement against hate and injustice. 

  • Second thing I came across during my Google search was a Pichiavo piece that recently went up in Charlottesville. Pichiavo (Pichi & Avo) are a "Spanish based artist duo, recognized for their ability to ignite relationships between art, sculpture, architecture, space and social contexts." They are truly one of my biggest inspirations in the world of painting. Finding out that there was one locally made me super happy and inspired. I had never seen one up close, and for the 5 weeks we were in Charlottesville, we drove past it almost every day. It was constant inspiration for the murals to come.
Polaroid by Tobi Newson

Polaroid by Tobi Newson

  • The third thing that came up was IX Art Park. I shouldn't give all the credit to Google, however. Cali and Tony, the lovely humans that offered us a parking spot for our bus, also mentioned this park as a "must see" for us traveling artists. I browsed online until I found an email address for the Art Park. A response came back within the following couple days with an excited board member by the name of Brian Wimer

He gave us a tour of the park and shared all the locations they would gladly accept a mural. There were many to choose from, however I chose a tall wall right on the main high wall in the park. The work stared the next day, and within two hot sunny days the mural was complete. 

This also kicked off our YouTube channel's daily vlogs! Below is episode 001 of our Bus Life Vlog series, showcasing behind the scenes footage of the Mural going up.

  • To conclude, I also stumbled upon the Charlottesville Mural Project. This of course seemed the most promising during my initial Google search of the area. I reached out to them in search of something inspiring. I offered my service to paint or volunteer in any way. My main goal was to just network in the area, and this really turned into something great. Alan Goffinski, the Director of The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative (also responsible for booking Shepard Fairey in Charlottesville), replied and said he just may have a gig for me.

It was a dream project really. Alan linked me up with a local woodworker, Joe, who wanted a mural for the side of his shop. The location was the Belmont neighborhood of Charlottesville, known as a proud working class neighborhood still rooted in trades and crafts. Knowing my history, you could see why this was the dream project. I worked in cabinetry for a few years, and really enjoy the craft.

The idea was to put up a working class mural. Inspiration was a modern, street art interpretation of old Diego Rivera Murals. Attending art school in Detroit, I used to often times sit at the Detroit Institute for the Arts and stare at his epic mural in there. The concept just really hit home and I was very grateful for the opportunity. I drew up a concept immediately and ordered paint. 

One week later, the paint arrived and I was able to battle the crazy Charlottesville weather. It was either direct sun and 90 degree days, or this heavy rain that was causing floods around the area. A mural that would have normally taken 2 days became a 4 day project, with a rest day in-between. All in all, it was a great success, with all parties happy!

Two of our Day Vlogs show some fun behind the scenes footage of the painting process.

  • All in all, Charlottesville treated us very well. Both large paintings were a complete success. If you happen to check out the Charlottesville area, be sure to peek the murals and let me know what you think! You can view all the photos from these projects in my mural gallery.

We are now currently in Detroit, Michigan wrapping up a few more murals.

Follow our adventures via YouTube, or find out more about the tour specifically at FAcreatives.com


*Special addition to the story. In a very cosy area in the outskirts on Charlottesville can be found a small Wetiko Mural of a chicken!