Plans for a mural on Fourth Street Northeast to commemorate the memory and legacy of Heather Heyer are scheduled to go before the Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review on Tuesday.
“While the proposed mural content will engage the tragic events of August 2017, this will not be an explicit memorial to Heather,” reads an application from the Charlottesville Mural Project, a program of the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative.
“This will be a dedication to the equity, peace, kindness and community engagement that Heather and countless others in this city stand for,” the application continues.
The north-facing mural would be installed at 321 E. Main St., a brick building that houses Williams Mullen and other companies. The structure is within the Downtown Architectural Design Control Review District, hence the need to get approval from the BAR.
“The proposed mural will be a permanent beautification to a large indistinct brick surface without prominent structural elements and minimal interruptions to compete with visually,” read the application for a certificate of appropriateness.
According to the application, the mural will be done with the collaboration of the Heather Heyer Foundation, a group founded shortly after Aug. 12. On that day, Heyer, 32, was killed on Fourth Street Southeast when a car slammed into a crowd of counter-protesters just south of the Downtown Mall shortly after the Unite the Right rally was deemed an unlawful assembly. A trial in the collision is scheduled for the fall.
The mural would be the work of Shepard Fairey, an artist and muralist who will donate his time and efforts. Fairey is perhaps best known for his iconic 2008 Hope poster during the presidential campaign of Barack Obama.
In addition to Fairey’s work, the Fourth Street mural will be created in collaboration with local artists Eze Amos and Destinee Wright.
A rendering submitted with the application is not the final version of the mural. That will be presented to the BAR at its meeting.
The Charlottesville Mural Project was created in 2011 after founders Ross McDermott and Greg Antrim Kelly were inspired by a similar program in Philadelphia.
The first project, Hands Together, was installed in 2011 at what has since become the IX Art Park.
In 2012, the BAR initially rejected a design for a mural designed by Matt Pamer at 513 W. Main St. The group eventually approved the project after the colors were muted.
In 2015, the BAR approved a six-story-tall mural on the side of the Graduate Hotel at 1309 W. Main St. The David Guinn painting accompanies a Rita Dove poem called “Testimonial.”
The group’s most recent work adorns a retaining wall on Barracks Road in Albemarle County. That project was painted by Chicho Lorenzo.
Melanie Miller, the chairwoman of the BAR, said the group tries not to be art critics.
“We are to look at the effect on the building, visually, and materially,” Miller said. “For example unpainted bricks that become painted many years later can have a moisture problem by trapping moisture behind the bricks and causing the mortar and bricks to break down.”
Jon Lohman, director of the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities, said that murals can become a community’s civic fabric.
“I think what truly distinguishes the mural from other forms of public art is the fact that its creation is more than an ‘installation’ of art into a landscape, but rather a fundamental transformation of the landscape itself,” Lohman said.
Lohman said murals are endeavors that need serious attention.
“The authors of this proposal seem to demonstrate a keen understanding of this, outlining their commitment to an inclusive and dialogic process in the creation of this work,” he said.
In addition to the mural, the BAR also will consider proposals for the Dewberry Hotel as well as the Charlottesville Technology Center. The meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers.