Update: It’s the closing weekend of “Fresh Paint: Murals Inspired by the Story of Virginia” at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture featuring 10 murals by Virginia artists inspired by historical artifacts from the museum’s collections.
"Fresh Paint has been one of our most popular exhibits and is the first of its kind," Lizzie Oglesby, a spokesperson for the museum, said. The exhibit has had over 50,000 visitors since it opened in late October 2018.
"Fresh Paint" is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sunday, April 21, included with museum admission.
It's the last chance to see the murals paired with the artifacts from VMHC’s collection that inspired them and to catch a short film in the gallery featuring highlights from the mural-making process and artist interviews.
VMHC is located at 428 N Boulevard, Richmond.
Original story posted Oct. 25, 2018:
After weeks of live, on-site painting, “Fresh Paint: Murals Inspired by the Story of Virginia” is ready to open at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture this weekend.
Ten Richmond muralists have taken items from the museum’s vast “Story of Virginia” collection and reinterpreted them for modern times.
At the front of the exhibit, Hamilton Glass’ “Bound” presents a powerful image: Black hands bound by rope and held tightly by white hands against a backdrop of Confederate and American flags. The mural speaks to the Civil War past, as well as the plight of black people today.
Glass said he was inspired by a letter from a Confederate soldier who expressed his hatred of United States Colored Troops while at the same time complimenting them on how hard they fought in battle.
“My main interest was to dig a bit deeper into the lives of black soldiers and slaves on both sides of the battle,” Glass said. “No matter which side you were on as a black American, you were not treated as equal.”
He said he sees that struggle continuing today as African-Americans continue to fight for equal rights. That kind of exploration and making connections between Virginia’s past, present and future is at the heart of the exhibit.
Andrew Talkov, vice president for exhibitions at the museum, said the staff was thinking about staging a show that would highlight items from the museum’s 9 million object collection.
Staff members talked about how the perception of historical objects can change over time, like the statues on Monument Avenue or the museum’s own Confederate Memorial Military Murals by Charles Hoffbauer that were unveiled in 1920.
The Hoffbauer murals “say less about the Civil War or the Confederacy itself, but tell us much about the values of the creators and what they wanted viewers [then and today] to remember,” Talkov said.
“Ninety-eight years later, we’ve invited artists back into the building and, not surprisingly, they produced works that reflect much about themselves and the issues that are relevant to our society today,” he said.
Race, gender, class and politics are just a few of the topics tackled in the new exhibit. The murals are massive — most are 15 feet by 20 feet — and beautiful.
Nico Cathcart, who co-curated the exhibit, painted three women in her mural, “The Elements of Change.”
She painted Elizabeth Keckley, an abolitionist and author who escaped slavery to become a successful businesswoman; Adele Clark, a suffragist and social leader; and Casey Dokoupil, a current Richmonder who is a leader in the fight for women’s rights and gay rights and who participated in the Women’s March on Washington in 2017.
“I like to say: Keckley fought for freedom, Clark fought for a voice and Dokoupil fought for the freedom to use that equality,” Cathcart said.
Cathcart incorporated flowers from the museum’s china collection into the mural, as well as the pride flag, a suffragette banner, and the first flag flown over Richmond when the Union recaptured the city.
Noah Scalin picked the Memorial Military Murals and swapped out the Confederate soldiers with figures like Janie Porter Barrett, a social reformer who established a rehabilitation school for African-Americans in Hanover County.
Ed Trask took inspiration from a copper still and a bootlegger’s car to explore Virginia’s prohibition history to today’s thriving craft beer industry and artisan distilleries around the state.
Cathcart helped select the artists in the exhibit. She wanted to include established muralists as well as younger, emerging artists like Austin Miles and Christina Wing Chow.
Wing Chow said that history, especially Civil War history, didn’t speak to her, but Virginia’s natural beauty did. She painted a dreamy, bubbly version of Natural Bridge.
The artifacts that inspired the murals will be presented in front of the murals, including a 1918 Kline Kar automobile, bridging the past and present.
The mural exhibit also launches the sale of a new book, “The Story of Virginia: Highlights from the Virginia Museum of History and Culture,” that examines hundreds of items from the museum’s collection such as rare letters, paintings, furniture, firearms and photographs.
“Fresh Paint” goes on view this weekend with a sold-out cocktail reception with the artists on Friday and a grand opening celebration on Saturday.