You probably heard about it before you saw it.
There’s a huge new mural in the ViBe Creative District on the back of the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art facing 264W. Virginia’s only exclusively contemporary art museum is nationally accredited and consistently breaking the mold with their cutting-edge exhibitions. For this significant project (both in scale and in purpose), MOCA chose international artist MASER, who has grown to have worldwide notoriety in recent years. Most recently, Maser’s artwork took him to northern Uganda where he worked with refugee children on art projects to highlight World Refugee Day. Here in Virginia Beach’s ViBe Creative District, his art carries a simple yet important message for the City.
“Maser’s vibrant, bold, graphic details were a perfect match for the life style and energy of Virginia Beach,” said Alison Byrne, Director of Exhibitions and Education. “Maser’s artwork was one of our top choices for this collaboration between the City of Virginia Beach’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the ViBe Creative District. His artwork is seen all over the world in Ireland, London, Uganda, Spain and now, Virginia Beach.”
Staff from MOCA and ViBe worked with the artist for over a year in preparation for the Artist Residency in July 2017. Over the course of two weeks, the artist traveled from London to Virginia Beach to paint the mural at MOCA and finalize design plans for two installations in the ViBe Creative District—a temporary art installation next to the Virginia Beach Convention Center and an entertainment stage in ViBe Park. Contractors broke ground for the stage last week– both installations will be constructed in August. Maser’s role was to custom design all three projects and oversee their creation with the assistance of MOCA staff, local artists and volunteers. The installation projects will be painted specifically to Maser’s designs once constructed by professional builders.
For MOCA’s mural, Maser painted side by side with local artists Andy Harris (whose work is currently on display at the Glass Wheel Studio in NEON) and Josh Malbon of Malbon Creative. MOCA staff were also a critical component to the project’s success. The opportunity for local artists to work with Maser was a high priority for the artist residency and strengthens MOCA’s goal to connect the local artist community with international artists. The paring allows for a unique exchange where the visiting artist learns about the local art scene and local artists can learn about Maser’s experience with large scale international projects all over the world.
The artists and businesses in the ViBe Creative District jumped at the chance to welcome Maser to Virginia Beach. McKenzie Construction is managing the construction of the stage in ViBe Park. Meals were donated by Friends of the Creative District supporters: The Stockpot, Esoteric and Zero’s Subs. A complimentary gym pass from Wareing’s Gym afforded Maser the opportunity to work out alongside local artists Harris and Igor of Igor’s Customs. A MOCA member who had previously met Maser in Ireland, brought chocolate chip cookies to the artist as he painted; another brought ice cream. And custom printed menus at Hearth Wood-Fired Cuisine and Craft Beer set the bar for southern hospitality for a private donor dinner with the artist. Maser shared updates of his visit with his nearly 30,000 followers via his Instagram @MaserArt account.
Social media is expected to play a significant role in attracting visitors to Maser’s artwork in Virginia Beach. Videos documenting the creation of the works are currently being produced by the City of Virginia Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and ViBe talent AlexAnimation to share across all social media platforms.
Already photos tagged with “I Spy the Maser Mural @VirginiaMOCA” are popping up.
Additionally, ViBe Creative District has launched a new custom mural Google Map app which will allow visitors to hop on a beach cruiser to take a self-guided tour of all 18 murals currently existing within the Virginia Beach arts district. Maser’s artwork is expected to bring an increase in traffic and attention to all artwork in the ViBe.
This large scale public art project was funded by grants from the City of Virginia Beach Office of Cultural Affairs, Business Consortium for Arts Support and private donations. It is the first of several public art projects planned for the ViBe Creative District in the coming year.
To learn more about the ViBe Creative District events and art projects, visit www.ViBeCreativeDistrict.org