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Via Colori street art festival set for this weekend in Fredericksburg

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ACCORDING TO WILLIAM Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage,” but at Via Colori, all the world’s a canvas.

Well, Sophia and Charlotte streets downtown will be this weekend, anyway.

Via Colori is a street-art festival that is a modern-day take on an age-old tradition. The idea comes from 16th-century Italy, where artists would use chalk to paint religious icons in the courtyards of cathedrals, hoping to earn some change from appreciative pilgrims.

Now, the festival seeks to reawaken the public’s appreciation for this kind of street art.

“Street painting is a tradition that’s being revived around the world as a very interesting, dynamic, interactive art form,” said local artist Mirinda Reynolds, who has helped coordinate the event this year and is one of the featured artists.

“It is different from every other show. It’s not stagnant; it’s not something that’s sitting in a frame that’s been in a box for months or years waiting to be sold. It’s the process that we’re showing—and the product—all in one weekend.”

This year marks the first time that the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center has been responsible for planning and organizing the festival, taking the reins from the city of Fredericksburg.

Proceeds from the event, which is supported by various local sponsors, will benefit museum programs, including exhibitions, art and history education programs for all ages, lectures and hands-on arts and crafts.

Nick Candela, an art teacher at Stafford Senior High School and an active participant in Via Colori over the past three years, will serve as Fredericksburg’s signature artist.

“He’s talented, not only as a teacher, but as a street artist,” said Christa Stabler, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the FAMCC.

The weekend will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday with Art Comes Alive!, where artists will set up studios throughout the museum and paint to live music from the Skiffle Lounge Sound, a band that mixes old-time Americana and modern jazz. Food and beverages will be provided by Bistro Bethem. At the end of the night, the paintings will be auctioned to benefit the FAMCC.

Meanwhile, volunteers will be drawing up the 120 10-foot-by-10-foot squares that artists of all ages and levels of experience will spend the following days filling with their masterpieces.

The artists may not be hitting the streets until this weekend, but the creative process for the works of art that will embellish the streets along Riverfront Park starts long before the chalk meets the pavement. There is a great deal of research, designing, outlining and graphing that goes into pulling the work together.

The FAMCC has fostered the process by offering a series of classes throughout the year called Via Tutori to help guide the artists, from selecting their subject to working on their technique.

“Everything has to be prepared in advance perfectly to fit a scale of 10 foot by 10 foot,” said Reynolds, who, along with Candela, was one of the Via Tutori instructors. “With 100 square feet, every little inch is essential in making the picture successful.”

Reynolds teaches art at Fredericksburg Academy and has been preparing a group of about 50 students, from first through 12th grade, for the festival.

Some say that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach—but this is not true in her case. Reynolds, who was the 2011 Via Colori signature artist, will contribute a pop-art piece that aims to combine the traditional and the modern to the festival.

Her piece plays on the Renaissance image of “Madonna and Child,” but gives it a modern twist by featuring Duchess Kate Middleton and the newborn Prince George, with the London Eye serving as the Duchess’ halo.

“I just hope to make it a little fun so that I’m bringing both the traditions of Renaissance Italy and the heart of street painting to a modern place by integrating these two ideas,” said Reynolds.

In addition to the live street art creation, the festivities will include live music, food and wine vendors. There will also be a designated area where children can unleash their creativity with provided art supplies.

For many, Via Colori serves as one of the area’s greatest connections between artists and the local community.

“Making that connection might not have happened if we didn’t have this festival,” said Reynolds.

“Not everybody comes to an art gallery or an art opening,” she said, but coming to an event like Via Colori “really opens up thousands and thousands of viewers’ minds to be receptive to us as artists.”


What: Via Colori street art festival

Where: Along Charlotte and Sophia streets near Riverfront Park in Fredericksburg.

When: Saturday, Sept. 21, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 22, noon to 5 p.m.

Cost: Free.

Info: 540/371-3037, or visit Via Colori Fredericksburg on Facebook

Other events: Art Comes Alive! 6 p.m. Friday, FAMCC, 1001 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg. Tickets are $30 for museum members and $35 for non-members.



9 a.m.: Artists Welcome

11 a.m.: Stafford Choral Society

12:30 p.m.: Malia and Anthony

2 p.m.: Marenje Marimba

3:30 p.m.: Save the Arcadian

6 p.m.: The Lonely Hands

7 p.m.: Via Luminaria


Noon: Ray Woodruff

1:30 p.m.: Raw Feels

3 p.m.: The Cosmonauts

4:30 p.m.: The Relics


Bridget Balch: 540/374-5417 |