The frescoes from Juneteenth are formed on the Oceanfront during the art tour “Unity in the Community” – The Virginian-Pilot

VIRGINIA BEACH – From abstract to realism, Oceanfront’s first “Unity in the Community art” tour was about inspiring and presenting, according to artists working on the June 13th murals inspired by the weekend’s June festival.

Desiree Donovan, a 20-year-old Chesapeake native, leaned against her canvas as she painted braids on a young black girl whose mother was straightening her hair. Dark skin and hair tones contrasted with the blue-blue background, attracting many eyes.

“It’s so great,” a woman shouted as she ran.

Donovan, painting his first mural, said he wanted the piece to be an impressive representation of black beauty.

“I find black hair very beautiful,” she said. “It’s a way to connect people of color. I always think of my mother and my aunt doing my hair. I hope this will connect with people who remember how their mother does her hair. And I think that leads to a conversation. “

Donovan said he hoped people would see the Juniorist Festival in Virginia Beach as an opportunity to learn the history of African Americans.

“I think it’s very important to be able to ask questions without being judged for what you don’t know,” she said. “I hope people use Juneteenth as a time for open discussion. This should be an open, informative weekend. “

The African-American Cultural Center in Virginia has selected 21 artists from across the state to create 30 murals along the promenade for the June 16 city holiday. Of the 21, 14 are from different cultural backgrounds, one is deaf and six are white.

Over the past three days, they have come together to create the Unity in the Community art walk, which stretches more than a mile between 15th and 31st streets. The murals are painted on custom wooden frames attached to the railing of the promenade, making the work of art visible to anyone on the promenade or beach.

“We hope that this art project creates a space where different cultural perspectives are shared and valued by a united community,” said Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, founder and chair of the VAACC.

Kate Pittman, director of the Vibe Creative District, which works with VAACC to bring the Virginia Beach Juneteenth festival to life, said organizers are specifically looking for local talent.

“There is a strong emphasis on local talent to celebrate community building and unity in our community,” Pittman said.

Around 21st Street, James L. Thornhill was stationed by the beach, working on a “little king.” The inspiration, Thornhill said, is that reading and educating and inspiring young people to be great.

“A community that reads together learns together. “We travel the world through books,” Thornhill said. “He wears his crown on his head because he is inspired and encouraged to be a little king and to grow up to be great in the world. I hope that the other children will see it and understand that they are also little kings and queens. ”

Also in Thornhill’s painting are a living butterfly and a globe, which he uses to symbolize the main themes of the art walk.

Weekend Scoop

Weekend Scoop

per week

Check out the latest entertainment and arts news, then plan your weekend with a look ahead to what’s happening around Hampton Roads.

“The butterfly is for metamorphosis and transformation. We are all changing and growing. And the globe is about bridging the gap between nations and people and reminding each other that we are all human, “said Thornhill.

Near the center of the festival were two Richmond-based artists engaged in painting as the activity buzzed around them. Several beachgoers stopped to look at their creations, commenting on the colors.

“It’s all about spreading love,” said Nicole Gomez, her bright blue mural with red and pink hearts against the ocean. “We really need a little more love today.”

On the other side of Gomez, Nico Cathcart was balancing on the ladder as he delicately painted glasses on a black man, shining when he was embraced by a woman and a child. Cathcart, who is deaf, said her mural is about connecting people to the arts through race, origin and generations.

“I hope people leave it with a little joy, community and a sense of mutual support,” Cathcart said.

The murals will be on display at Oceanfront for the next 30-60 days, depending on weather conditions.

Caitlin Burchett, 727-267-6059, [email protected]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.