A fresh coat of paint

Jon Baliles and Ed Trask are joining forces to paint the town — literally.

The two friends will put on the first RVA Street Art Festival this weekend, bringing 18 artists from Richmond and across the country to give the James River Power Plant Building and Floodwall in Shockoe Bottom an $80,000 makeover.

“We’re looking at this festival as a way to expand the conversation about public art in the city,” Baliles said. “Not just for touirsts, but people that may come down for Friday Cheers. It’s a highly trafficked place.”

The free event will start Thursday at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the main festival on Saturday.

The artists will paint six or seven 18-by-32-foot murals on the 250-foot building near 12th and Byrd streets. The Baltimore-based Cordish Company owns the building.

“People will get to watch art being created as it goes up,” Baliles said.

The entire event is costing about $80,000 for artist fees and supplies. Baliles said that the proceeds from beer, food and art sales from the Saturday event would go to Art 180, a local nonprofit.

Trask and Baliles got together last April to start fleshing out plans for a street art festival. The two met last March at a Great American Cleanup event put on by Altria.

“Ed was hired to lead the painting of a mural he sketched out, and volunteers from Altria painted the mural,” he said. “The mural went on the 95 overpass on Boulevard.”

Baliles said he got the idea for the festival after watching Shepard Fairey, a street artist famous for his Obama “Hope” poster, draw crowds in Venice.

“He was there doing public mural sessions in Venice, and people stood around and watched him work,” he said. “I was mesmerized.”
The murals will stay up for two years. Baliles said he and Trask are looking to make this a biennial event.

 

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laura
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laura

although it is art, i do not approve of painting these walls. it is just organized grafitti. these ‘walls of art’ dirty the city in my opinion.

Zach Davis
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Zach Davis

It seems to me that a pretty substantial number of people who are against these murals aren’t so much against the paintings themselves (although there are certainly those folks as well), but rather they are subconsciously connecting all art on exterior walls with urban decay. It is as if the areas surrounding these walls will suddenly be overrun with stray dogs and littered with broken bottles. And you know what? I get that. I’ll admit that image pops in my head sometimes when I look at pictures of the new murals around town. But, I realize it’s only because I’ve… Read more »

craig oneil
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With all due respect Laura street art is a recognized movement that has worldwide involvement. Murals like these have been credited with reducing illegal graffiti and renourishing blited areas. I recently visited Richmond all the way from Florida specifically to see the Murals go up for G40. That means I spent 3 nights at a hotel and purchased 3 meals a day, not to mention gas, 3 trips to Rite Aide, etc. Just because its paint on a wall doesnt make it graffiti. Google, Roa, Jeff Soto, Pixel Poncho, El Mac, Hown & Nosm, and see that these are respected… Read more »

William Chase
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William Chase

I love art and enjoy experiencing it in many forms. I do not think we should have grafitti plastered on every blank wall in the city especially depictions of grotesque mutant animals and deformed people. This seems more like an invitational for out of work tattoo artists. If the rest of the “Paintings” are as weird and wacked out as what is currently being posted, it will be a big black eye on an otherwise beautiful revitalized city. Regardless of the touted postive financial outcome, I fear this venture will leave our city littered with freestyle art that has no… Read more »

Brett
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Brett

do they dirty the city like the vacant building that has been sitting there for the last 50 years? are the property rights activists of the state against this? wouldn’t that be ironic.

Zach Davis
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Zach Davis

I don’t think the whole “big black eye on an otherwise beautiful revitalized city” argument holds much water. I won’t claim to know the locations of all the murals, but from what I’ve seen they’ve all been on pretty ugly surfaces. Have you seen the power plant wall down by the canal walk, or the side of the Canal Club? We aren’t talking about painting over St. John’s Church or the Landmark Theater here. Obviously not everyone is going to agree on the quality or appeal of the murals themselves. However, I am hopeful that most people will consider them… Read more »

Joshua Bailey
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Joshua Bailey

I am really enjoying watching the murals go up all over RVA. The murals themselves are imaginative and unique. There is huge potential for Richmond to become a mecca of creativity, culture and social good and I for one could not be more excited to call this city home as it embarks on a new journey towards positive progress.

Meg
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Meg

Personally, I’m looking forward to what’s happening in Richmond. Art is subjective. Not everyone will like every piece but hopefully everyone can appreciate the concept, talent, and movement that’s happening here. Richmond is becoming a pioneer in this type of work. In addition, people should note that G40 and the RVA Street Art Festival are separate events, on completely different scales. I appreciate G40 for so many reasons and respect the organizations and people involved in the work. I can’t speak for all artists in G40 but from what I can tell, the majority of them are emerging artists whose… Read more »

Roxanne
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Roxanne

A fine example of how Richmond is its own worst enemy. How many times has City Council tried to revitalize downtown in the same old, tired way? I am a middle aged (ugh!) but it’s not hard to see that if we keep acting like ultra conservative squares that can’t accept anything new and fresh, this town will never have any vibrancy and attract positive progress.