October is National Arts and Humanities Month and a great time to explore your local arts and culture. In retrospect, 2018 might be a landmark year for public art in the City of Virginia Beach thanks to City of Virginia Beach’s endorsement of the first creative arts district, expanded public art initiatives city-wide lead by the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Office, grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Business Consortium for Arts Support and significant cash donations from passionate culturally-inspired residents.
The City of Virginia Beach will always first and foremost be famous for the beautiful 40-blocks of oceanfront boardwalk, a treasured environmental wonderland adored by visitors and residents alike. The view there is as constant as the rising sun–waters as far as the eye can see. But, new and diverse additions of public art have made a colorful splash throughout the resort town, also the largest City in the Commonwealth, home to over 450,000 people and also visited by over 17 million tourists every year.
From temporary painted murals to permanent metal sculptures, these iconic artworks offer public engagement with a local and national arts scene, all happening within short driving distance.
Helping Hands Staircase Mural, March 2018
Aimee Bruce of Norfolk
Artist Aimee Bruce putting finishing touches on Helping Hands, the colorful stairway mural at Mount Trashmore. Photograph courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach.
Artists from the Hampton Roads area were challenged to transform the iconic Mount Trashmore steps from a functional staircase into a fun and lively public work of art. The City of Virginia Beach Office of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Department of Parks and Recreation, sought out local artists to propose art concepts for a temporary painted mural on the stairwell next to Kid’s Cove. The submissions for the Mount Trashmore Stair murals came in, and the public voted for their favorite design.
“Helping Hands” by Aimee Bruce received over 50% of the votes, along with overwhelming positive feedback and public support.
Seashore Cathedral Mural, May 2018
Pepe Gaka of Italy
The columns of the Rudee underpass painted by Pepe Gaka to resemble stained glass featuring activities and icons of the surrounding area. Photograph courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach.
Pepe Gaka’s wall mural under the bridge featuring Paul DiPasquale’s King Neptune statue. Photograph courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach.
Seashore Cathedral, by Italian street artist, Pepe Gaka is a series of murals that utilize a geometric style, giving the impression of stained glass. Each column features detailed vignettes that represent different aspects of the area that make Virginia Beach unique. In the artist’s words, “I want to create the idea that the whole underpass, in the area of the columns, is made of stained glass, giving lightness and brightness to the atmosphere.” On the back wall, Pepe pays homage to Paul DiPasquqle’s iconic statue, “King Neptune” that can be seen at the 31st Street Neptune Park at the Oceanfront.
This dynamic artwork that embodies the spirit of Virginia Beach and the activities of the Rudee Inlet can be seen on the underpass columns of the Rudee Walkway that connects the marina to 4th Street municipal lot.
ViBe Mural Festival – 10 Murals in 10 Days, May 2018
ViBe Creative District
Lisa Ashinoff of Virginia Beach; Igor of Virginia Beach, VA; Jeremiah Kille of Santa Cruz, CA; Tim Skirven of Ashville, NC; Ed Trask of Richmond, VA; Caesar of 1500 Studios of Richmond, VA; Charles Rasputin of Norfolk, VA; Scuba of Virginia Beach, VA; TALENT Murals of Virginia Beach, VA; ARCY of North Haven, Connecticut.
Jeremiah Kille mural at 1701, one of the ten new murals added to the ViBe Creative District. Photograph courtesy of the ViBe Creative District.
A total of 10 new large-scale murals were painted by 10 different national and local artists at private properties through the arts district. The project allowed the artists a 10-day time frame to paint their artwork designs to completion providing the public ample time to explore and meet the artists while they worked. The nonprofit published an open call for muralists in March 2018 to select the artists. Mural locations were selected by the ViBe Creative District nonprofit over the last year as the locally owned businesses and property owners expressed interest in participating in a mural project to support the district’s growth. These public artworks create a sense of place and sense of arrival within the arts district. Property owners have committed to preserving the murals for a minimum of 2 years and posting a sponsor plaque to recognize the funders. After spending ten days watching the artists’ work come alive, the public can now view the murals for free, year-round.
The Canoes Sculpture, July 2018
Shore Drive at Lesner Bridge
Ten aluminum canoes are now permanently docked at the Lynnhaven Inlet. But, these are no ordinary canoes; they are part of a beautiful new sculpture by nationally renowned artist, Donald Lipski . The Canoes is the latest gift to the City from the Public Art Virginia Beach Foundation, a group of volunteers dedicated to enhancing our public spaces with extraordinary art.
The 36-foot sculpture is poised on the pedestrian overlook of the new Lesner Bridge welcoming visitors into the beauty and history of the Chesapeake Bay area. Artist Donald Lipski chose the canoe as the medium of his sculpture to create an immediate tie to the water with the most basic historic water craft. Each canoe has an intricate, lacy filigree design cut out of its aluminum, reminiscent of the decorative arts of the early settlers. “My hope is that this sculpture speaks to your history, to what you are today and to what you will be tomorrow,” Lipski said.
Terrapin Basin Sculpture, August 2018
Pleasure House Point Natural Area
Terrapin Basin is behind the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center. Photograph courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach.
Terrapin Basin is 5’ x7’ and is set into the ground creating a basin that invites visitors to explore. The sculpture was constructed from locally sourced sandstone, native to the area, which was cut, assembled and polished onsite. Heller’s carving process is similar to the formation of rivers and coastlines – an active process and one that he shared onsite with visitors as the project unfolded. The stone form of the sculpture mimics the shape of nests that diamondback terrapins dig to lay their eggs. This piece serves as an educational experience creating conversation about how all of these elements can co-exist and be preserved.
Benjamin Heller is a cross disciplinary artist who explores various mediums in his sculptures. Drawing from a diverse background and training in visual arts, photography, dance, and physical improvisation, his works create intimate environments that can be entered and explored via one’s senses and imagination.
ViBe LOVEwork Sculpture, August 2018
ViBe Creative District
Chesley De Leon of Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach’s First 3D LOVEwork, part of a statewide tourism effort for Virginia is for Lovers. Photography courtesy of Jenny Ditona.
The LOVEworks program is a state-wide branding initiative designed to promote historic life experiences in Virginia and strengthen awareness of the “Virginia is for Lovers” message. The LOVE sign will be added to a collection of more than 100 large scale LOVEworks that are installed throughout the Commonwealth. These LOVEworks spark community pride, attract tourists, and spread the message that “Virginia is for Lovers.”
After issuing a public call for artist designs via social media in Spring 2018, ViBe selected Virginia Beach resident and graphic designer Chesley De Leon. De Leon’s vision will be fabricated by local sign experts Signs of Success. The LOVEwork was sponsored by grants from the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Beach Office of Cultural Affairs. The City of Virginia Beach authorized this installation on public property at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Library, on the corner of 18th Street and Cypress Avenue.
MASER Public Art Installation, October 2018
ViBe Creative District
MASER of Dublin, Ireland
One of three public art projects by MASER of Dublin, Ireland, the public art installation located next to the Virginia Beach Convention Center provides an area for visitors to explore a maze-like display of patterned walls with a central seating platform. Photograph courtesy of Will Perkins.
Virginia MOCA and the ViBe Creative District in partnership with the City of Virginia Beach Office of Cultural Affairs welcomed internationally renowned artist, Maser, for an artist residency in July 2017. Maser created a large mural, titled People and Plants on the back of MOCA’s building (that faces I-264 heading west), this sculptural installation across the street from the Virginia Beach Convention Center and a Performing Arts stage in ViBe Park on Cypress Avenue between the Virginia Beach Library and Wareings Gym plaza.
Originally from Ireland, the artist began using the moniker ‘Maser’ in 1995 painting graffiti on the streets of Dublin. Maser’s background in painting and graphic design strongly influences his work. His bold use of color, simplicity of form and geometric patterns has gained international notoriety. Walls, buildings and installations across Austria, France, Slovenia, Spain, the UK and now in Virginia Beach, exalt Maser’s relationship with color and abstract style.
Pop-Up Public Art Chalk Drawing, October 2018
Sandler Center for the Performing Arts Plaza
Christopher Revels and Rick Nickel
Community engagement through the arts was also notably increased this year in Virginia Beach. This recent temporary art project featured local artists Christopher Revels and Rick Nickel leading the community in a hands-on chalk and tempura paint artwork. The pop-up art project was planned to celebrate the grand opening of The Zeiders American Dream Theater adjacent to The Sandler Center for Performing Arts in Town Center and was on view one week before it was washed away. When opportunities like this pop up, participants can lend a hand in creating the actual work of art, leaving their own finger print on the cultural DNA of Virginia Beach.
Beyond adding cultural interest and value to the Virginia Beach community, these artworks engage residents and visitors alike as the ultimate selfie backdrops—go explore and make memories with your friends and family. For more information on Public Art found in the City of Virginia Beach, visit the Virginia Beach Public Art Foundation . Additional details on arts projects and events can also be found at the ViBe Creative District website.