Many visitors to the Appalachian Mountains travel the Blue Ridge Parkway from Cherokee, North Carolina on up into Virginia. A favorite stop on the journey is the vibrant city of Roanoke, Virginia.
Located right off the parkway, Roanoke is the cultural hub of southwest Virginia, with a bustling downtown full of history and amenities galore. Black Dog Salvage, the subject of the popular TV show “The Salvage Dawgs,” is located in Roanoke. The Appalachian Mural Trail recently added three Roanoke
murals to its mural trail.
Roanoker Mim Young, Artrepreneur and instigator of RAMP — Roanoke Art Mural Project, was excited to learn that the Appalachian Mural Trail features murals for Blue Ridge Parkway travelers, and immediately applied to ensure that some of Roanoke’s terrific art murals would be included.
In 2010, after seeing the Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida, where entire blocks of buildings makeup a world-renowned mural gallery, she realized that Roanoke’s murals did not reflect the vibrancy of its community. The City of Roanoke was prescient in understanding the importance of the arts when it created its Arts and Culture Plan, which was unanimously adopted by the city council in 2011. The plan provided a blueprint for a resident like Young to get actively involved to create “bottom-up” change, instead of waiting passively for “top-down” change from local government.
Roanoke murals added to the mural trail include: “Maurice’s Mockingbird Mural,” which is a tribute by a group of writer-admirers for area poet, writer, and mentor Maurice Ferguson. The stanza painted on the mural is from Ferguson’s poem “Sailing for the East Indies.” It is believed to be Roanoke’s first poetry mural. Artist Toobz (Scott Noel) and the group of writers was assisted by RAMP – Roanoke Art Mural Project in procuring the wall and installing the art on a convenience store in an up-and-coming area.
“Maurice’s Mockingbird Mural” is located a short block from the Wasena Tap Room, a rock climbing gym, and the Roanoke Greenway, making this a fun destination on your next stop-over in Roanoke.
Just a short block from “Maurice’s Mockingbird Mural” and adjacent to the Wasena Tap Room, the rock climbing gym, and the Roanoke Greenway, is another Toobz mural. Fine woodworker Tom Dorathy and Cory Dorathy commissioned Toobz to paint the exterior of the Greenway Storage building where Tom creates magnificent furniture.
“Humanufacturing” and a stately heron grace two sides of the large, metal building.
“Humanufacturing” covers the entire long side of this industrial edifice, and both murals were installed entirely by the artist. This is the type of project that RAMP – Roanoke Art Mural Project envisioned others would create once updated “eye-candy” art murals became a part of the lives of everyday Roanokers.
Mural-savvy owner of The Lofts at West Station, Bill Chapman, hired American-born, Berlin-based street artist James Bullough to install an untitled mural on the west side of his building.
“This mural is an exciting, visual manifestation of our vibrant, progressive city here in Roanoke. Bill Chapman is a great supporter of art murals and a very smart redeveloper,” says Young.
James Bullough is an American born artist living and working in Berlin, Germany. His studio paintings and huge monumentally scaled murals combine delicately handled realistic portraiture with harsh graphic distortion and abstraction. Inspired by the gritty urban graffiti he saw as a youth growing up in Washington, DC, Bullough harnessed this energy and edge while teaching himself more traditional realistic oil painting techniques by studying the Old Masters.
Roanoke is burgeoning and so is the Appalachian Mural Trail. The mural trail now has 70 murals with more being added each week. Coming up are four more historical murals in Wise County, Virginia and in-progress is a new historical mural based on Cherokee traditions to be located in Robbinsville, North Carolina.
Stay tuned in by visiting muraltrail.com, where you can find directions and images of all the
murals on the trail in North Carolina, Virginia and coming soon, West Virginia.