The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Finished city mural an artistic welcome
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
She has developed a special bond with the crane lift that supported her and five art students who painted a 25- by 16-foot mural on the side of the building that houses BikeWorks on William Street and faces the Chatham Bridge.
The mural, reminiscent of a vintage postcard, depicts a young woman on her bike looking over Fredericksburg from Chatham Manor, the Georgian mansion across the Rappahannock River in Stafford. It was built in the 1700s and housed Union soldiers during the Battle of Fredericksburg.
It’s one of the first publicly funded art projects in Fredericksburg and many hope it’s a catalyst for more projects.
“The results are great. This is just the beginning of more murals that will be coming,” said Seth Casana, chairman of the Fredericksburg Arts Commission.
Reynolds, a well-known local artist who teaches at Fredericksburg Academy, and her students worked on the mural throughout the month of August, battling heat and rain and learning to work in the tiny space of the crane lift, suspended 35 to 40 feet in the air.
She said she is pleased with the outcome and proud of her students.
The students who worked with her were Will Baker, Rachel Kaufman, Kaitlyn Novalski, Mallory Morgan and Cami Parrish.
Mikaila Reynolds, Sarah Tweeddale and Sabina Ger also volunteered with the project.
Carol Coffman, also an artist who is an art teacher at Shirley C. Heim Middle School in Stafford, and Troy Howell, another artist, also helped with the project.
“I feel like I can help these students realize they will become something that is important in the community,” Reynolds said.
One of the hurdles Reynolds had to get past was finding funding and time and convincing the owner of the building that it would be a worthy project.
Funding came through the city’s Arts Commission, which budgeted $7,500 for it.
That includes the cost of the materials and renting the lift and a $100 scholarship for each of the five students.
The Arts Commission was involved in the review and approval of the mural.
With the completion of the mural, Reynolds hopes that it will bring similar projects to the city.
“I sincerely hope this will be inspiration for many other artists and students and business owners, as well,” she said.
The concept of public art also fits into one of the platforms Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw campaigned on.
“I think it makes a statement about how important we consider public art,” Greenlaw said about the mural.
She said she hopes the topic of public art will be one that will be in discussions of future buildings, parks and even the city’s new courthouse.
She said she plans to bring it up at the City Council’s planning retreat in October.
“We should be a mecca for cultural tourism as the urban center of this Rappahannock region and we do have so much good art here, and I think it’s a visual statement that this is who we are and this is what we’re about,” she said.
Reynolds said she thinks it is a lofty goal for the artists of the community to work with business owners to find a way for their creativity to benefit business.
Reynolds received an overwhelming amount of community support over the past month, she said.
Friends, family and even people on the street frequently stopped by the site to ask her about the mural and express support, she said.
On Friday, the mural and those who worked on it will celebrate the completion during a small ceremony during First Friday.
Greenlaw and members of the Arts Commission will speak and the students will sign the mural.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413