Public mural to be painted in Franklin
Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023
The character of the city of Franklin will be expressed and further developed through the painting of a public mural in a highly visible part of the locality, possibly as soon as the city’s impending Juneteenth Cultural Celebration.
The Virginia African American Cultural Center Inc., which donated $15,000 to the city to help fund the celebration, is also funding the mural through a grant of up to $5,000 that it received from the Virginia Tourism office.
VAACC Founder and Chairperson Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond asked the ViBe Creative District, of Virginia Beach, to help establish this mural in Franklin.
ViBeCreativeDistrict.org states that the ViBe Mural Festival was created in 2018 as a call to action for the Virginia Beach community where 10 private businesses donated wall space to host 10 new artworks.
Officials noted that the annual event was promoted as “10 Artists, 10 Murals, 10 Days” and was hosted in the May shoulder season prior to the start of summer Memorial Day weekend.
“The large-scale artworks lend to the neighborhood collection of public art and have visually transformed the arts district into a museum without walls,” officials said on the website.
ViBe Creative District Executive Director Kate Pittman said, “Typically we’re working within the city of Virginia Beach because that’s where our arts district is. However, we’re very excited to partner with Dr. Ross-Hammond and the Virginia African American Cultural Center who have asked us to be the partner that comes and helps to establish a mural in Franklin with them.”
WHAT MURALS CREATE FOR A COMMUNITY
Pittman highlighted the impact that murals can have on a community.
“I think murals help create a sense of place and a certain level of community engagement,” she said. “The outreach from Virginia Beach to Franklin is part of the Virginia African American Cultural Center’s statewide approach to their programming, and we’re happy to be a partner. As an entity that has created over 50 murals in Virginia Beach now, we’re happy to share that template with another city and offer a new opportunity for a Virginia artist to be featured.
“The ViBe District has had over 850 positive press stories since we got started in 2015, and murals are at the top of the list of things that people want to see and do, and so we do hope that it’s a draw for the community but also a reflection of the people that are there,” she added.
PROGRESS ON THE FRANKLIN MURAL
Pittman and Ross-Hammond visited Franklin on May 8 in advance of the Franklin City Council meeting where they presented the $15,000 check to the city for the celebration, and Pittman explained why they came early.
“It was a scouting session,” she said. “We were able to drive around the city of Franklin and identify some of the highest-traffic areas and also most visible walls. And so we’re currently in the process of talking to property owners to try to get approval to put a mural on private property.”
She said they started with a list of three or four walls.
“We’re working through reaching out to those property owners right now and having those conversations to get approval on one wall,” she said during a May 30 interview. “And then we’ll work with the city of Franklin through their zoning department or community engagement office to make sure that we’re following the local rules in terms of placing art on the wall.”
After securing the wall, ViBe Creative District will start soliciting artists to see who is interested in painting a mural there and within the timeframe that is agreed upon with the city of Franklin, Pittman noted.
“And the artist will create a specific mural for the wall and the city of Franklin, so it’s not kind of like a prepackaged deal,” she said. “It’s something that the artist will custom create to fit the wall and the theme within the city of Franklin.”
TIMETABLE FOR THE MURAL
The mural should be painted by this summer, but the ViBe Creative District and the VAACC have a particular weekend they are aiming for.
In the May 30 interview, Pittman said, “We’re really hoping that we can get approval this week so that we can jump on this and have the artist actually working the weekend of the Juneteenth (Cultural) Celebration in Franklin. That’s our No. 1 goal.
“However, time is getting short, so we’ll make sure that we go through the process in the best way possible to ensure the best outcome,” she continued. “So if it doesn’t happen in time for the festival, we will work on it over the summer. But our first goal is to have someone there actively painting during that weekend.”
Franklin Ward 3 Councilman Gregory McLemore has been leading the efforts to organize the Juneteenth Cultural Celebration, and he has helped facilitate the mural project as well.
“We’re really grateful for the collaboration and participation from Councilman McLemore,” Pittman said.