Local artist’s new mural turns into call to action on $3.2 million in Richmond Public Arts funding

by | Apr 4, 2016 | ART

Over the weekend local artist Nils Westergard started painting over near Belmont and Patterson.

Over the weekend local artist Nils Westergard started painting over near Belmont and Patterson. He’d done some outline work earlier in the week, knowing he wanted to make the actual paint session a bit of a casual experience. He partnered up with his musician friend Nico Doreste who had conveniently just released an album (check it below) and the two spent the weekend painting or playing music (respectively) with the end result being a pretty dope day-time hang out and an even more dope new mural, called “Girl with Phone,” from the internationally known Nils.

But Nils, a Richmond Mural Project Veteran with more sky miles from painting trips around the world than you’d imagine for someone his age, noticed a trend as folks came up to him during his painting party – everyone kept asking him who paid for the project.

I've got talented friends. @nilsrva #rva #richmond #streetart #art

A photo posted by Kellie Tuohy (@pressedinbooks) on

Sure enough, Nils took to Facebook this AM to point out exactly how quality street art like his gets done, and how little help he and others like him get from the City, despite a recent pot of over 3 million dollars floated to support public art in RVA.

Below is his post, and he’s linked to the Public Arts commission’s survey which is taking suggestions on how to spend the money. Head over here to show your support for whatever art you are into .


We did this piece for little over $100 which came out of my pocket. The RVA Public Art Commission has several million dollars which they have told me they are not interested in putting toward murals. Instead leaving it up to us to find funds, or to Art Whino to bring in international painters, and bare the costs themselves- or worse, farm it out to sponsors. Do we really want our public art funded by Phillip Morris?

I dont.

Local artist Ed Trask and his RVA Street Art Festival (separate from the RMP) has a majority of local artists and has previously painted the bus depot and near the pipeline, has to have an indiegogo up to get the money it needs for this year’s festival. And this year’s event was already delayed from last year due to lack of funds.

That is ridiculous.

Below is a map of all the vacant properties in Richmond. Imagine how many we could paint with $5,000, $10,000, even $50,000 of the city’s $3.2 million.

Imagine how that would change our city and impact our community, especially in the pockets of RVA that need it most.

Currently our master plan on how to spend that $3.2 Million is being led by two advisors the city hired from out of town. And thus far, on the books we have a monument of Maggie Walker, and a riverside sculpture from an artist in CO.

Do me a favor, and email the Advocate of the commission, and tell her you would like some of that money to support local murals and muralists. We have great talent here that is being overshadowed by artists from overseas, and while I love and actively partake in the RMP, its leaving the locals behind. A small chunk of this money could make such a dramatic and immediate impact on your environment.

Advocate/Public Art Coordinator/Secretary to the Public Art Commission

Ellyn Parker – ellyn.parker@richmondgov.com


Editors note: This piece originally listed Parker’s title as the head of the PAC, she is in fact the public advocate – her email is listed on the city’s website for the PAC. It also incorrectly labeled the survey as Nil’s, it was the PAC’s survey. The article has been updated to reflect that.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

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