The Roanoke River Greenway is an incredibly popular destination for bikers, walkers, runners, and also – public art lovers! Now that the paint has dried, we’re excited to share the news of a few brand new murals along the greenway.
In July, an extensive mural (nearly 5,000 square feet) was completed on the Barrows, Inc. building in Southwest Roanoke. This expansive project took three artists (Libby Shafer, Josh Nolan, and Maggie Perrin-Key) working for two months to complete. The mural faces the greenway and visitors will enjoy its narrative quality, moving through the seasons and incorporating natural elements.
This unique project was made possible through an agreement between PLAY Roanoke and Barrows, Inc. a couple years ago. In order to construct Liz Belcher Plaza on the Roanoke River Greenway, an easement from Barrows, Inc. was required. However, instead of having the City pay the easement to the company, Barrows’ CEO requested the amount (around $10,000) go towards the creation of a mural instead! PLAY Roanoke contributed the cost of the easement (which covered a small portion), Barrows covered the remainder, and the new mural was a-go!
This project was part of a broader effort by the Roanoke Arts Commission called “Art in Place,” which encourages public facing art on private property. As explained by Doug Jackson, the City of Roanoke’s Arts and Culture Coordinator, “if a property owner wants assistance with a mural, we can pair City funds with property owner money, and neighborhood or business association resources.” The hope is that this program will enable the creation of more public facing art on private property. Learn more about “Art in Place,” here. To visit the mural for yourself, we recommend parking at the lot off Cook Dr. near Apperson, then following the greenway for just under a mile. You’ll pass the Liz Belcher Plaza before arriving at the backside of the Barrows, Inc. building, here.
Across town, another project has been in the works over the past few months, bringing art to two spots along the greenway in Southeast Roanoke. Artist Jon Murrill was selected to paint two underpasses; one beneath the 13th Street Bridge at the Bennington Street parking lot, and the other beneath the 9th Street Bridge adjacent to the Roanoke Industrial Center. These murals reflect the beauty of the Roanoke River and its wildlife as well as incorporating imagery of Southeast Roanoke. The effort also tapped into the neighborhood’s active volunteer improvement culture, offering weekly workdays for the public to be involved in the painting process.
Dubbed the “Southeast Greenway Gateways” project, these murals are located at points along the greenway where users can access the Southeast Roanoke neighborhood, and the intention was to be reflective of the community. The neighborhood was involved in developing goals for the project early on, and was active in the volunteer work days, directly contributing to the final product. Learn more about this project here. To visit these murals for yourself, you can park at the Bennington Street parking lot, then follow the greenway to the murals under the 13th Street bridge here, and continue on just over a mile to the mural under the 9th Street bridge here.
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To learn more about the work of the Roanoke Arts Commission, visit roanokearts.org.