Martin Luther King Jr. mural

The new mural under the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge that features a depiction of King is 140 feet long and about 20 feet tall. On Tuesday, muralists Hamilton Glass and Sir James Thornhill will be joined by members of the U.N.I.T.Y. Street Project and student artists from Richmond’s Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School for a formal dedication of the mural.

A graffiti-covered bridge in Richmond’s East End has been brightened with two new murals dedicated to messages of hope and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hamilton Glass and fellow muralist Sir James Thornhill spent the summer and fall with young apprentices and students from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School painting the 100-foot murals as part of the U.N.I.T.Y. Street Project, a group dedicated to adding art to the community.

On Tuesday, Glass will be joined by members of the U.N.I.T.Y. Street Project and students for a formal dedication of the second mural, which is under the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge.

“We wanted to do something that would beautify the neighborhood, but also engage the community,” Glass said.

The bridge spans Shockoe Valley, connecting downtown Richmond with Mosby Street.

What was before a drab concrete wall now bears vivid colors and geometric shapes. The first mural is on the bridge and is roughly 103 feet long and 9 feet tall.

The second mural is 140 feet long and about 20 feet in height, carrying messages of hope and a depiction of King.

Besides working with apprentices and students, the artists put out a call to the community to help complete the murals. Roughly 30 people turned out to help paint in October, Glass said.

Representatives from the Virginia Museum of History & Culture will also be on hand at the formal dedication and will be donating free tickets to the “Fresh Paint: Murals Inspired by the Story of Virginia” exhibit to students who attend.

Glass said he hopes the murals can help bring change in the neighborhood.

“There’s a park behind Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School that is rarely utilized,” he said.

The U.N.I.T.Y. Street Project has been involved in talks with the Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities to improve the park, which is currently being used for illegal dumping.

In the past, the U.N.I.T.Y. Street Project created the Arthur Ashe murals at Battery Park and added murals to Jackson Ward.

“We hope that art can bring access to areas that are underutilized and beautify the neighborhood at the same time,” Glass said.

Tuesday coincides with the 90th anniversary of King’s birth.

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ccurran@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6151

Twitter: @collcurran

Colleen Curran covers arts and entertainment for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She writes the weekly column Top Five Weekend Events.

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