Richmond is known for its amazing murals.
And as people try to find ways to keep themselves sane under quarantine, one 35-year-old native Richmonder and mechanical engineer is doing his part to help provide an artful activity.
Blake Casavant has painstakingly created a Google Map of the best 100 plus murals in Richmond with the bonus of providing the most efficient route to view them, "though it can be slightly tweaked," he points out.
"Can you think of a better way to practice social distancing while also allowing you to get out of your house?," he asks.
We sent him a few questions via email to learn more:
Style Weekly: How did you come up with this idea?
Blake Casavant: I don't have an arts background, nor am I involved in the arts right now, but I've always admired the vast number of murals around RVA. Despite this, it wasn't until some non-Richmonders pointed out the grandiosity of it all that I was able to realize how much I have taken it for granted.
So, one day, when I had a bit of free time, I decided to try to find a listing of all the murals RVA had to offer yet was unable to find a truly comprehensive one. When I searched for "Best of" lists in Richmond, they all seemed to be lacking, specifically if it didn't have the Bernie on their list. So, I began to combine a number of lists I was able to find as well as add various ones that I’ve seen walking or driving around town, and the next thing I knew I had over 100. I live in Carytown bordering the Fan so they’re not hard to find.
How do you envision people using it?
I hope people will use this list to do a self-guided tour and perhaps explore RVA in a sort of scavenger-hunt. If they'd like, they can see an image of what each one offers so that they're able to pick and choose the ones that interest them.
We are all in a social distancing quarantine yet I'm sure many are antsy to get out and do something but there are simply not many viable options. Frankly, can you imagine a better way to get out of the house while also practicing the safety protocols than to do drive around and look at all that Richmond has to offer?
The streets are empty these days so you don't have to rush to take a photo of one. On a Friday afternoon recently, on a normally busy road, I was able to stop my car to a complete halt in front of mural and not have any cars ruin the view or make me feel rushed. When will we ever have that luxury again? Hell, gas prices are almost encouraging us to drive around so why not do so with a purpose?
Any other aspects of it that were interesting to you? Did you learn anything unexpected while doing it?
You'd be amazed how many incredible murals you'd find just driving down back alleys. There are hundreds upon hundreds of simple ones that people have done just on garage walls and doors.
These are truly impressive pieces of art you would expect to see prominently displayed. Knowing that these are ones that have not been commissioned or funded professionally helps me fully appreciate the artistic prowess Richmonders have. It seems like I see a new one each week.