Starting in 2012 the Richmond Mural Project’s mission was to have 10 artists paint 20 murals in two weeks. Art Whino, a DC based art gallery, was hired by the city to attract professional talent to the Project. Artists from around the globe were brought together to leave their marks on Cary Town and Shockoe Bottom. Some artists came from as far away as Belgium and Singapore, other were creative local Virginians. Three years and over 60 murals later the Project has become a staple of the downtown skyline, the plan is to paint 100 murals across Richmond by 2017. Richmond has become a heaven for professional street artists, who are encouraged to display their work across three story buildings. But what is the state of traditional street art, painted by amateurs before it was cool? The world class talent may have the spot light, but casual artists are still leaving their impression on the city.
Richmond is covered in street art not associated with the mural project, it just tends to be smaller and a little harder to find. The most obvious example are the cities many statues, Civil War heroes standing down the street from civil rights activists. Other pieces of public art include sculptures beautifying underpasses and improving the lobbies of banks down town. Some of the armature street art is over shadowed by the new murals. The side of one building in Shockoe Slip is now covered by a robot party, but a centry old sign on the front lets you know it was once a baker. Often the businesses inside the buildings have changed but they rarely cover up the original signs out front. The most recognizable and pure form of street, Graffiti, is everywhere: on the train tracks, behind CVS, down by the river. This city has been painting itself for years, it just went viral in 2012.