We’ve all seen those DIY shows where a team sweeps into town and completely redoes a backyard or house for an incredibly fantastic reveal just a few days later. While we know it is TV, it’s still quite clear that you can make a big difference for someone or something in a fairly short amount of time. May 29th, Anat Ronen and I landed in Richmond, Virginia to do a little redo of our own armed with some paint and a handful of brushes.
I’ll back up to a few months ago when I was contacted by the lovely Holly Harman – a member of the Montross, VA Revitalization committee (and owner, with her husband Terry, of the lovely ‘Art of Coffee’. The only coffee shop in town). She asked if I would like to submit a proposal for their special mural project for which they had received a grant. We received news that ‘We Talk Chalk’ was awarded the project!!…we were to create 3 murals, vintage inspired, to brighten up the town and really start to make it a destination. So, Anat Ronen and I packed our bags for a 10 day revitalization in a town of 350 people. To be honest, we really didn’t know what to expect, other then hard work, hot weather, humidity, and no Starbucks 😉 Really, none of the usual places you find in any small American town…no fast food, chain stores or hotels reside in the area. Instead, we found beautiful parks, lush green forest, charming coffee, art and antique shops, and most of all…incredible people.
Over several days of painting, we encountered the wonderful individuals who call Westmoreland County home. Here are a few pics of what we did…
In addition to the 3 original murals, we were also asked to restore a vintage coca cola mural, on Montross’ Coca Cola distribution building (from 1932), that had faded significantly over the last 15 years. Originally painted in 1999 by Dianna Snell, this mural was based on a vintage postcard. Anat and I took a day to revamp all the colors and restore it to it’s original beauty. Though a little stressful, it was actually a lot of fun.
In all my years of travel and painting in cities around the world, I don’t think I have ever received a warmer and more appreciative welcome then we did in Montross. We met and spent time with people that I will forever call my friends. (A few people may even find their initials hidden in the murals…you know who you are 😉 A Special Thanks to our very gracious hosts Holly and Terry, who welcomed us into their beautiful home and fed us each day from their delectable ‘Art of Coffee’ menu. It’s impossible to name everyone who made our visit special but know that you all made it more then a ‘project’ for us. We are looking forward to the possibility of returning to Montross in October for Phase II of their revitalization and for Fall Fest!! By then they will have new street lamps, park benches, and street signs settling into their marvelous view. It’s a beautiful place to visit…I’ll definitely be back 🙂
A little about Montross
With Kings Hwy running right through it’s center, Montross sees thousands of passers by a day. It is the seat of Westmoreland county and has a Courthouse, Museum, Inn, Coffee & Art Shop, Antique Shops and is just a few minutes from the breathtaking Westmoreland State Park. In 2000, Montross was featured on television’s Late Show with David Letterman. In a segment called, “Biff Henderson’s America“, comedian Biff Henderson visited the small town’s museum, Bargain Shop, Sheriff’s Department, the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, and the Potomac River.