Sharing the Good: The Artsy Edition

A community art project, a map of murals (perfect for a weekend walk), things to make, and more.

Join this time capsule project by sharing your outdoor art projects. 

With museums and galleries closed for the foreseeable future, a Richmond design and media form has launched [ART]SOLATION, a virtual exhibition to share public art projects in the state capitol and the surrounding communities. Whether you have created something on your front porch to thank healthcare workers or have turned your driveway into a canvas, Riggs Ward Design will share your project on an interactive map. As a bonus, you will also be entered to win $250 in a variety of gift cards from local restaurants to help support the local dining community.

“We had been talking over conference calls how a lot of us have seen different art installations in people’s yards, and thought it would be kind of cool idea to create a virtual exhibit where we could document these things and put them on a website for people to enjoy from their own homes,” says Rob Steele, a graphic designer at Riggs Ward Design. 

To submit your art, visit the firm’s website and upload a photo, a brief description and general location. RWD then posts specific locations of installations or more general areas, depending on the artists privacy concerns and comfort level.

“Since it’s in web form now, it’s kind of a time capsule, where we’ll always be able to appreciate this stuff,” Steele says. “I hope people are more inspired to continue being creative and trying to bring more light and love and happiness into the world.”

Mapping Murals
Interactive map makes viewing Richmond street art easy, organized, and fun.

Since 2012, the Richmond Mural Project has established the River City as a landmark destination for internationally recognized street art, but navigating the more than 110 murals that have been painted since has been challenging. 

Map by Blake Casavant.

But not anymore. A new Google Map created by Richmonder Blake Casavant lists each mural and even provides the best and most efficient way to explore them all. The 35-year old mechanical engineer came up with the idea to come up with a comprehensive list after attempting to search for “Best Of” lists and noticed that many murals were missing. “Even when I compiled several lists, there were still a lot missing. I knew I couldn’t be the only person interested, so I set about creating my own list,” Casavant says. 

Using the compilation of lists he had found online as a starting point for creating his own map, Casavant quickly realized that he needed to do his own research.  “I used pictures and locations of murals I’d acquired over the years, drove or walked around the city looking for them, and even had some friends send me pictures and locations of ones they found,” he says. But once Casavant had the expansive list in front of him, he knew he couldn’t just stop there “I wanted to put everything in a sensible order, to make things easier for other people,” he says.

Casavant’s mural map follows a route through the various sections of the city and shows where clusters of murals are located. You can choose to go through the list in chunks and not lose track of what you’ve already seen. If you want to keep to a specific area of the city, such as walking around Carytown, it’s also easy to see exactly where you should look.

Casavant’s list is constantly growing as new murals are created or found. “You’d be surprised how many are hidden in tiny alleys behind houses or old city buildings; nothing you would see just driving down main streets. I’d suggest people take a look, whether it be for a cheap date, relaxed activity on your own or with a group of friends, or just to appreciate the amazing artwork Richmond has to offer,” he says. 

Check out the map here.


Join a Creative Challenge
Need a quick, fun project? Artist offers 48 ideas … and counting.

Professional designer and cartoonist Carolyn Belefski, who lives in Northern Virginia, has developed and hosted daily creativity challenges while working from home. Calling it #CarolynsCreativeChallenge, she has created prompts to encourage others to draw their fears, make sock puppets, bake salt dough jewelry, play with their food, develop a COVID-19 PSA, write and draw comic strips, and much more.

“After the Coronavirus outbreak, people need to get it touch with themselves and create—specifically with their minds, eyes, and hands as it feels like we are doing something constructive even if we aren’t on the front lines. It heals wounds and takes focus off what is causing distress, even if we are making art and visuals specifically addressing the pain or simply having fun,” says Belefski.

Students, parents, and children of all ages will enjoy participating. No prior art knowledge is need and most of the materials can be found in our homes, but if we are missing anything, modifications can be made—which inspires more creativity. Our motivation to participate may be to stay sharp, hone our creative skills, take our minds off current events, or pass the time. 

“I hope #CarolynsCreativeChallenge teaches us something about ourselves and the world around us during this solitary situation,” says Belefski.

New Kids on the Block
Virginia’s children’s museums continue to provide ideas for learning.

The Children’s Museum of Virginia in Richmond may be temporarily closed, but that isn’t keeping them from helping kids learn. The museum has launched Children’s Museum at Home, a blog loaded with ideas for families to keep their children engaged during this time.

“Our mission is to inspire growth in all children by engaging families in learning through play,” says Danielle Ripperton, president and CEO of the Children’s Museum of Richmond. “This doesn’t stop even when our doors can’t be open. During the COVID-19 pandemic, families are under a lot of stress.”

Making potato prints. Photo courtesy the Children’s Museum of Richmond.

The blog contains fun at-home activities, story times, and caregiver resources, such as scribble games, button up story time, dinner discussions, and sweet potato prints. “Knowing the resources contain quality educational content and just plain fun gives parents a great way to engage their children and ease their worry,” Ripperton says. 

The Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth has created a similar online resource with ideas for online learning, from a virtual tour of Dr. Force’s Traveling Energy Extravaganza to the screening of the film documentary Birth of Planet Earth which tells the twisted tale of our planet’s origins.

In Roanoke, the Kids Square Children’s Museum has also found a way to keep children occupied by writing them letters once a week with learning opportunities inside. The museum, which opened in 2017, also created activity kits that include up to three or four activities for children to do at home.

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