With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Roanoke, the Roanoke Arts Commission is partnering with the Southeast Neighborhood to strengthen neighborhood gateways along the Roanoke River Greenway.
Watch the RVTV story
Watch the WSLS story
Watch the WDBJ interview.
Hear the artist on WFIR.
Read a profile on the artist and project at Roanoke.edu
See the project featured on Highlanders in the News (Radford University)
Grab the press release here.
Artist Jon Murrill was selected to paint two murals beneath the 13th Street Bridge at the Bennington Parking Lot and beneath the 9th Street Bridge adjacent to the Roanoke Industrial Center.
This section of the greenway is already beautiful, historic, and accessible to the neighborhood. For visitors using the greenway, it can be an introduction to Southeast Roanoke. There’s a lot to communicate and celebrate, and through a round of community meetings, the neighborhood developed goals for the community driven and artist-led project.
“As a local artist I see the greenway as a symbol of our community,” says Murrill. “The beauty seen along our Roanoke River Greenway is shared and celebrated by such a diverse range of people in our area. In this project we will have the opportunity to further inspire our community through a series of murals along the waterfront celebrating both our local wildlife and imagery from Southeast Roanoke.”
Mr. Murrill’s project:
- Creates a welcoming gathering space that discourages graffiti by activating the space and adding color to the concrete under the bridges, encouraging stewardship of the greenway and the site, and
- Engages viewers with the natural history, residential character, and future of Southeast Roanoke, including
- The dynamic and resilient nature of the greenway and the community,
- The diverse and energetic neighborhood today, and
- The welcoming sense of the neighborhood in attracting current and future residents and investment
“We anticipate the murals creating energy and a sense of joy and belonging as they become notable landmarks celebrating the neighborhood,” says Roanoke Arts Commission Chair Meighan Sharp. Work will commence immediately and continue through the month of August.
The neighborhood developed goals for the project in the fall of 2021, and the artist will tap Southeast Roanoke’s active volunteer and neighborhood improvement culture in weekly workdays open to the neighborhood and area youth. “As a local educator I am passionate about our youth’s involvement in the local art scene,” says Murrill. “This project will give a widely diverse group of high school students the opportunity to pour their artistic talents back into their home city.”
“This project is HUGE for our community!” says local leader Sunni Purviance. “Huge in how much square footage it covers, but also in that SE has been chosen to receive such an extravagant gift! It has been exciting to be a part of this process from the beginning brainstorming stages to now actually applying paint to the walls at the first of many upcoming community volunteer work days.
“The kickoff volunteer day on July 4th was productive and fun working alongside Jon and a great crew of neighbors,” says Purviance. “We were able to chat with several greenway users about the project. Many were thanking us and exclaiming that the loved the color—some were even interested in signing up to volunteer! I am so thrilled that Jon has invited us all to be a part of transforming these community spaces.”
Interested volunteers, ages 14 and older, are invited to participate in Community Days in July and August. During three-hour time slots in mornings and afternoons, up to five mural assistants will help Mr. Murrill. Track progress on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/iheartSE.
In the development phase, student groups of Julia Sienkiewicz’s public art class at Roanoke College.explored the area’s history and aspects of public art interpretation and celebration and shared them with the community. View poster presentations, images from the community meeting, and the original call for artists below: