Franklin City Council agrees on mural design

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Franklin City Council expressed general approval Sept. 11 for the design of a mural that has been funded to be painted somewhere in the city. 

The council also agreed that when a property owner in the city ultimately agrees to the placement of the mural on their property, they should have some input on the font used in the final design.

WHAT MADE THE MURAL POSSIBLE

The Virginia African American Cultural Center Inc., which donated $15,000 to Franklin to help fund the Juneteenth Cultural Celebration held in the city this summer, is funding a 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.”

THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

At the Aug. 14 Franklin City Council meeting, the council had been presented with different mural designs, and members expressed support for one with the words “Unity in the Community.”

It was also noted that city staff was having difficulty finding a property owner willing to have the mural be placed on their property.

At the Franklin City Council’s Sept. 11 meeting, City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt said she talked to Pittman, and Pittman went back to the artist who created the “Unity in the Community” design, and they provided three different font choices for the council to look at.

“She did say that the artist was available in October if we could find a building,” Jarratt said. “We’ve had some good conversations with some building owners and are hopeful — nothing final.”

Jarratt said that Pittman was willing to come back to Franklin and meet with anyone that is interested in hosting the mural.

“So if there is anyone watching or listening that has a building that they would like to allow this mural to be painted on, they can reach out to city administration,” Jarratt said.

Jarratt can be reached at ajarratt@franklinva.com or 757-562-8561.

The artist of the proposed mural is Seth Lubaton, and other examples of his work can be found at www.instagram.com/lubatonmurals/.

Jarratt said city staff would need some direction from City Council as to what font it would like used for the text in the mural.

“They did add ‘Franklin, Virginia’ at the bottom, and if you do like a font, then we can go ahead and tell them, ‘This is the one,’ and then try to lock down a building for October,” she said.

Franklin Mayor Robert “Bobby” Cutchins said, “Do you think that that might go better for the property owner to decide on the font? What do you think, Councilman McLemore?”

Ward 3 Councilman Gregory McLemore, who established the connection with the VAACC, said, “I agree that (the property owner) should have an input into the final selection since it’s their building they’re allowing us to put it on.”

Council members expressed agreement with this position, and when Jarratt asked if the council approved of the proposed mural’s picture accompanied by the words “Unity in the Community” and “Franklin, Virginia”, council members communicated their approval.

“And it ain’t going to cost us nothing,” McLemore said. “It’s free.”