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Shockoe Design District Gets Moving



A year after the Shockoe Design District was proposed, the movement to brand the Bottom and Slip as a creative hub is gaining momentum.

Shockoe business owners and creative people are holding the second Shockoe Design Day on March 24 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., celebrating all things made in America. Scheduled events include tastings from Grayhaven Winery, live music, free Segway rides at the Turning Basin and artisans demonstrating and selling their work.

Three experts on American furniture design will speak at furniture store LaDifférence: Royale Wiggin, president at Thayer Coggin, Tim Copeland, owner of Vermont's Copeland Furniture, and the owners of Metro Modern.

Karen Atkinson, organizer of the popular South of the James Market, will introduce the new Virginia Street Farmer's Market that day too. Officially it will kick off May 10, she says, running Thursdays from 3-7 p.m.

Then local artist Ed Trask and activist Jon Baliles are organizing the inaugural RVA Street Art Festival on April 12-15. Well-known street artists from around the country will paint in public, creating four large banners to hang on the flood wall, and painting murals — with permission — along 300 feet of the old power plant on the Canal Walk.

Trask hopes the event will bring more attention to the Shockoe Design District and the canal, he says, and help "resolve that disconnect between the river, art and the public." He praises the tenacity of Andy Thornton, originator of the Shockoe Design District idea, for helping get things moving: "It's mainly about people doing something, not worrying if they have enough corporate or city backing."

Thornton, co-owner of LaDiff, says he's encouraged by "the cumulative movement" in Shockoe: "I think we're on the cusp of something."

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