‘Mending Walls’ public art documentary gains national traction

Artists Matt Lively (left) and Hamilton Glass (right) work on their mural collaboration in 2020. Photo courtesy of 19RED

Gabriela de Camargo Gonçalves, Spectrum Editor

“Mending Walls: The Documentary,” a locally produced film about social justice within the public art project, will be available for anyone in the United States to watch after its acceptance on American Public Television, or APT.

Mending Walls focuses on murals that began after the surge of Black Lives Matter demonstrations following George Floyd’s murder in 2020. Artists from different backgrounds paired up to create murals together. The murals were a reflection of social and racial justice conversations, according to Mending Walls founder and documentary co-producer Hamilton Glass.

“We could create public art that speaks to the times that we’re in, but also speaks and gives a very authentic voice about where we are in Richmond at this time,” Glass said. “This project was also way more than about the art. It’s about the connection.”

The project included 18 mural projects in various neighborhoods throughout Richmond. Sixteen are featured in the documentary with 33 artists on board, and continued in 2021 with four murals and 10 artists, according to the Mending Walls website.

Glass said after a vulnerable conversation with friend and artist Matt Lively, the idea to push for empathic conversations and convey that through art became the goal for the soon-to-be Mending Walls project.

Poster exhibits VPM’s “Mending Walls: The Documentary,” soon to be available nationally. Photo courtesy of 19RED

The 56-minute documentary in duration premiered on Sept. 16, 2021. A companion podcast, “Mending Walls: The Podcast,” launched and each episode highlighted the personal experiences of artists with Mending Walls, according to VPM’s website.

The film’s producer and co-director Pam Hervey owns the production company 19RED along with her husband Todd Hervey, according to the company’s website. They contacted the creator of Mending Walls in the project’s early stages and took the documentary to Virginia Public Media Corp., an NPR affiliate, according to Pam Hervey.

“Those weren’t stories that I felt I could tell, but I had a space within that art community and an understanding of some of these artists and what art can do for people and how it can spark conversation,” Hervey said.

Hervey, a local Emmy-award winning documentarian, saw the Mending Walls project on Facebook in 2020 and offered Glass the idea of the documentary, according to Hervey.

Steve Humble, the chief content officer at VPM, said his hope is to share this film with other markets for more people to look at and promote it through APT, a distributor for public media content available for any station across the country.

VPM executive producer Shawn Freude said she filed an application in fall 2021 for the documentary to be featured on APT, which will push “Mending Walls: The Documentary” to be available anywhere in the U.S. 

APT accepted the application in January 2022, while the creators of the film held screenings at  universities, like University of Richmond and Pennsylvania State University. The documentary also screened at film festivals, like the Richmond International Film Festival, according to Freude.

“It’s more than just looking at this wonderful model and the beautiful artwork that’s been done,” Freude said. “It’s enabling people to have these difficult conversations on their own, and actually try to have change happening in their own communities.”

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