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Off the Canvas
By Misty Thomas
Since the days of punk, Richmond, Virginia has been well known for its somewhat colorful characters and now it has become even more so. With the rise of street art projects, particularly murals, brightening up the city, I have seen many colorful additions during my six months here. When I first visited Richmond, I was surprised by the colorful artwork near the Canal Walk and the Shockoe Flood Wall Power Plant. That was actually where the Richmond Street Art Festival was held last year. The colorful art here is a huge attraction to tourists and Richmond natives. It is one of the first spots that I show people when they come to visit me.
This year’s Street Art Festival was held on September 11th through 15th in Carytown. It was organized by Jon Bailes and Ed Trask, who helped organize last year’s as well. This year—yet again—the festival was a huge success! There were some great artists who expressed themselves with paint, sculpture, and mixed media. These artists came from all over the country to help brighten up the walls of the old GRTC bus depot on Cary Street.
Some artists came from Richmond, while others joined us from Atlanta, Brooklyn, Oakland, Norfolk, Chicago, Monterey, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Baltimore. The artists had 5.5 acres of blank campus to express themselves on. The art was incredibly impressive and has really made me want to increase my knowledge of the artists. A few of my personal favorites were pieces done by Hense from Atlanta, Mike Broth from Richmond, and Nikki Leone from Norfolk. I was overwhelmed by how great the festival turned out and after making two trips to it on Wednesday and Saturday, I saw a great difference as everything was coming together.
There was not only a lot of great art for visitors to see, but there was also an obstacle course for cyclist, a ramp for skateboarders, and the premiere of the film “Richmond Had Rails: A Documentary Film about the First Electric Streetcar.” There were also new GRTC buses on display so Richmonders can see how they will now be getting around the city in style. The murals will be on display for all to see on 2501 W. Cary Street. If you are an art lover, this is definitely the place to go!