A newcomer’s guide to Richmond’s famous murals near VCU

Photo by Gessler Santos-Lopez

This story ran as part of a VCU Student Media Center summer special publication, The Compass, which serves as a guidebook for new students.

Andrew Ringle, Managing Editor

While rushing between classes and the library, it’s easy to miss the artwork that lives on Richmond’s old brick walls. But the work is worth slowing down for, or even stopping to snap a few photos — don’t worry, no one is judging. Here are four classic murals near the Monroe Park Campus that you should enjoy the next time you’re out.

Photo by Gessler Santos-Lopez

“Moonshine” by Etam Cru

1011 W. Grace St.

On the beige wall facing the Grace Street 7-Eleven parking lot, Etam Cru’s “Moonshine” depicts a tall mason jar holding strawberries and a woman with blue hair. A little bird perches on the rim of the jar, with its head turned to the busy street. 

Etam Cru is composed of Polish artists Sainer and Bezt. They have installations across Eastern Europe, as well as Portugal and the U.S. The team received international attention for its Richmond mural in 2013, when Buzzfeed ranked it as the third-best piece of street art in the world.

Photo by Gessler Santos-Lopez

“Visual Symphony” by Remi Rough

701 W. Grace St.

The Honors College’s towering drab walls once offered little to the campus skyline, until VCU commissioned an artist to reimagine the space in 2017. Londoner Remi Rough uses an abstract design in the mural, which is one of the largest on campus at seven stories tall.

Its colorful folding design alludes to the bright VCUarts banners found around the university, and its use of the large wallspace beckons attention from campus visitors. “Visual Symphony” can even be spotted from parts of downtown and the MCV campus.

Photo by Gessler Santos-Lopez

“Woodstock” by David Flores

12 S. Sheppard St.

This nod to Charles M. Schulz’s iconic avian character is from Californian street artist David Flores. The installation near Carytown is one of many by Flores in Richmond, but it’s an iconic example of his local work. 

Two of the yellow birds float across the wall, leaving dashed trails that wrap around the building’s windows. In a 2014 interview with RVA Mag, Flores said he chose the comic strip figure because it’s recognizable to most people, even across Richmond neighborhoods of different social tiers.

Photo by Gessler Santos-Lopez

“La Comunidad II” by Ever

534 N. Harrison St.

Argentinian artist Nicolás Romero Escalada, known as Ever, brought this large-scale portrait to Richmond in 2013. Four faces gaze into the center of the wall, casting beams from their eyes into two colorfully patterned circles. A posed hand rests at the tip of a cone of light, which spills down onto the neighboring parking lot’s pavement.

This is one of the first large murals that can be spotted from Harrison Street on the way into campus. It’s found on the northeast wall of what once was Mansion 534, a nightclub that was recently purchased by VCU for more than $3 million. Hopefully the change in ownership won’t affect the mural, but just in case, enjoy it while it’s there.

The Richmond Mural Project was founded in 2012 by New York collector and curator Shane Pomajambo. According to the group’s website, its goal is to make Richmond into “a landmark destination for internationally recognized murals.” For more information about Pomajambo and the project, visit richmondmuralproject.squarespace.com.

Every year, the local installations are honored at the RVA Street Art Festival. This event provides a yearly chance to celebrate the artists and the community. For updates on this year’s festival, visit rvastreetart.com.

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