The Unknown, Underrated Street Art of Richmond, Virginia (Photo Essay)

Owl RVA Mural Project | Packs Light

Ah, my home. My heart. My city. Richmond, Virginia.

Aside from just being the capitol of the state, Richmond (RVA) is a quirky, urban town right off I-95’s exit 76B. It’s also where I happen to call home, as I’ve lived here since August of 2013 to go to university (Go VCU!) and where I really did most of my developing as a person.

Richmond is well-known historically for being the capitol of the Confederates during the Civil War, while just being 100 miles away from Washington D.C., the Union’s capitol.

In more modern times, RVA was named America’s 3rd Most Tattooed City in 2011, or recently being named as one of the ten locations in “Where to Eat in 2016”, by National Geographic.

However, from what I’ve seen, neither of these things are what people remember when they leave Richmond. Yeah, sure, the city is filled with food and tattoos.

But something else is a little more memorable. The fact that is that Richmond is also tattooed itself—by huge, elaborate murals!

RVA Mural Project | Packs Light

This is partially due to a community project implemented by Shane Pomajambo, an avid art collector who is infatuated with large scale mural arts.

Popular destinations for street art include cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Pittsburgh—but there’s something about Richmond and it’s murals that have a completely different aesthetic. Here, the murals are as common as windows and doors, adorning every available surface possible and make the city feel welcoming and energized.

Straight from their website, the Richmond Mural Project‘s mission statement is as follows:

The Richmond Mural Project is a yearly event with the goal of creating over 100 murals by world renown talent in the first 5 years alone. The recurrence and solidification of the project throughout this time will establish Richmond as a landmark destination for internationally recognized murals and will create exposure for the city, establishing it as a premier art destination.

By concentrating a large number of murals throughout the city the project will increase tourism and will bring the much needed “Feet on the Street” which will help local business thrive.

RVA Mural Project | Packs Light

RVA Mural Project | Packs LightRVA Mural Project | Packs Light

RVA Mural Project | Packs Light

RVA Mural Project | Packs LightRVA Mural Project | Packs Light

RVA Mural Project | Packs Light

Some of these amazing pieces of art are also attributed to the RVA Street Art Festival.

Every year this organization takes to a different area of Richmond, VA and employs students and local artists to paint the town red! And blue. And orange. And many other colors and figures of beautiful art.

Art lets us find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Click To Tweet

They make the 3-day festival an event to  unite the entire community in art, education, and charity, always sending their proceeds to meaning local charities like ART180, Art On Wheels, and Studio Two Three.

Straight from their website:

The RVA Street Art Festival showcases amazing local and national artistic talent and revitalizes communities in need of some color and creativity. 

The focus of the RVA Street Art Fest three-fold: supporting youth art education, discovering local talent, and bringing life to our beautiful city.

And the RVA Street Art Festival seriously delivers on that!

RVA Mural Project | Packs LightRVA Mural Project | Packs Light

RVA Mural Project | Packs LightRVA Mural Project | Packs Light
LIFT Mural | Richmond, VA, Street Art

“Wings by Colette Miller”

Finally, the unique mural artistry of Richmond, Virginia is in part by solo artists. Local businesses and organizations commission the painting of beautiful pieces such as the in the photo above, done by artist Colette Miller.

They are a part of her Global Angel Wings project, and she paints them worldwide to promote peace and hope.

Edit: She actually commented below on this very post!

Wings Colette Miller Packs Light RVA Murals

Similar artists from around the world flock to Richmond, Virginia for the opportunity to add their unique piece of perspective and creativity to this welcoming and inspiring city!

And they contribute to what is, in my opinion, one of the most gorgeous destinations for street art in the United States.

RVA Mural Project | Packs LightRVA Mural Project | Packs Light

RVA Mural Project | Packs Light

The street art here is something to be proud of. Something to show off to friends and family when they visit my little city.

They’re the backdrops to most of the photos that my friends and I take after going out to lunch together in Carytown, or visiting the VMFA.

Places to see incredible #streetart: LA, Miami, NYC... Richmond, VA? #RVA Click To Tweet

These huge murals are on the sides of restaurants, and shops that say, “Yep, you’re still in Richmond!“.

RVA Mural Project | Packs LightRVA Mural Project | Packs Light

Owl RVA Mural Project | Packs Light
image

I hope you’ve enjoyed this gallery of only some of the over 100 spectacular murals of RVA!

These murals helped paint my college experience, and I know they paint the lives of all of Richmond’s residents!

You can find location of almost all the murals in this article by checking out my other article, “Richmond, Virginia Street Art Scavenger Hunt (Map!)” and seeing these beauties for yourself!


RVA Mural Hunt Map Header Photo- Packs Light

To see an interactive Google Map of all of these murals,
click here!

These murals truly paint Richmond, Virginia to as the spirited, fun place that it is.

And that’s why I want them to become famous! Next time you’re driving on I-95 and you pass a sign that says Richmond, Virginia, I want you to pause and think about this post, and hopefully take the time to visit this little city yourself and be charmed into falling in love with it just like I was!

So SHARE this post with your friends and family, so that Richmond, Virginia and it’s artists can get the recognition they deserve!


Have you ever been to Richmond, VA and seen these gorgeous murals? Which piece was your favorite?
Tell me in the comments below!

The street art in Richmond, Virginia is undiscovered and unappreciated... I want to change that! Check out some of the key murals that paint this river city!

Pin me, please!

The street art in Richmond, Virginia is undiscovered and unappreciated... I want to change that! Check out some of the key murals that paint this river city!

Pin meeee!

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46 Discussion to this post

  1. Derek says:

    Wow, this honestly makes me want to get into street artistry…amazing, this has got to be one of the best cities in the world for it?!

  2. Kaley says:

    I love seeing stuff like this around! I think it adds such amazing character to a city!

  3. Sarah says:

    I love these types of posts! I ve driven through Richmond countless numbers of times on my way to…anywhere but Richmond. I have never stopped. Now I want to see it.

    • gogabby says:

      So glad this has influenced you!! Cities like Richmond are hidden but are truly gems with logs of character! If you ever decide to visit RVA I can give you a guide to all of the great places to go 🙂

  4. Nikita says:

    So beautiful! And I love the initiative. All cities can do with a little extra colour. 🙂

  5. Wow, I love this. Fantastic street art.

  6. Alex cote says:

    I saw your instagram and was intrigued and decided to read this post! Wow, I never knew Richmond was filled with so many rich murals! I love the one of the man’s head exploding the most! Thanks for the awesome pics!
    – Alex

    • Gabby says:

      Hey Alex, thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, RVA will always be one of my favorite cities, one of the reasons being these amazing works of art 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing! Never spent time in RVA, but now it’s on my list. Just an hour or two away…

  8. I did the interactive angel wings at the top, its part of my “global angel wings project” I started in 2012 – to remind humanity we are the angels of earth-I do them around the world.
    I really think Richmond is a very special place and spend lots of time there. A very cool city.

  9. Christy Addis says:

    I have a few Richmond favorites not included here. I’d like to see your complete photo-collection.

  10. Michael says:

    Very cool article, hope to visit Richmond soon and will definitely hunt for murals!

  11. Dee Bunni says:

    I live in and love RVA. . . .im always mesmerized by all the art around town! Great article!

  12. tony says:

    RVA Magazine was involved in bringing this to town.

  13. Stephanie says:

    I love this post! It’s so cool seeing someone shed a light on the amazing art in my city!! So proud to call RVA my home.

  14. Rva resident says:

    This article presents a very shallow representation of what this art signifies, due in part to the author’s transience and lack of local context. Richmond is a city that has viciously prosecuted street artists for decades, imposing harsh sentences for simple graffiti.
    Then, when a corrupt mayor and city govt wanted to polish over the very real problems of the city to market it as a destination for young professionals and college transplants, an arts district was declared in order to obtain funding and provide tax incentives. When youth, particularly Black youth from surrounding neighborhoods, tried to attend monthly First Fridays events in the district, they were met with horses and riot police, stampeded with mace canisters drawn, after being harassed for “obstructing sidewalks” simply by being present. This racist display occurred for months until the combined efforts of event organizers and local police managed to cull the event of those they considered to be “outsiders”.
    Then multiple mural projects are initiated to “beautify” the city, purely a marketing ploy as over 1/4 of the city lives in poverty (and an even greater percentage of children specifically).
    This was also a strategic measure to prevent common street art in favor of authorized, legitimized art. This all despite the fact that so many mural artists are or were graffiti artists who would otherwise be considered criminal, regardless the artistic merit of their work.
    These murals have always been executed in areas of commerce and tourism, never to beautify residential neighborhoods. They tend to demarcate the very clear geographic segregation of the city that has continued beyond the devastation of interstate highways that cut through powerful and prominent Black neighborhoods.
    As in many American cities, these initiatives, despite the probable well-meaning of many participant artists, are quite clearly tools of gentrification.

    • Gabby says:

      Hello Terry! You raise very valid points in your comment, and I agree with them.

      However, all I can say that your alternative of not mentioning or celebrating the street art in Richmond does not help your cause of bringing attention to these underlying issues of the city. It brings no attention at all to the city.

      If my article makes one more person stop in RVA, then it does more than saying nothing at all.

      Also, I love our new mayor, Levar Stoney 🙂 Thanks.

  15. Lauren says:

    What stunning street art :-)! I am road tripping the USA in April/May and don’t really have plans yet. Maybe I will add Richmond to the list. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Yolanda says:

    Great Post! I love street art. I would love to see all these, I have put it on my list. Thanks!

  17. Penny says:

    Oh my God! This is so gorgeous. I had no idea that street art in Richmond was so gorgeous and well done. Do you find it everywhere or do you have to know where to look? I’m so curious. I would love to go hunting about just to find an awesome one.

    • Gabby says:

      Hey Penny! You can find the street art all over the city!
      If you scroll to the bottom of the post, you’ll see the link to the Google Map I made with the address of all of the murals I mention in this article! x

  18. Kendal says:

    How I adore street art…especially Richmond’s! I’m glad these works of art are getting the attention they deserve.

  19. Cathy says:

    I love street art, I seek it out every trip. Loved Miami, was surprised by Sao Miguel in the Azores, searched the Pyrenees for pieces and find great pieces here in New England regularly. These pieces and the festivals remind me of Montreal. I’m adding Richmond to my street art wish list and will save your map of the pieces to see!

  20. Great post! I LOVE STREET ART! It’s so nice to see all the street art of Richmond. Thank you for sharing!

  21. Wow who knew Richmond was so cool! I have family in Northern Virginia so I need to make a stop in Richmond! Beautiful pics!

  22. maegan says:

    I enjoyed Richmond when we visited. My husband’s parents lived in Mechanicsville for a few years. It’s very lively and there were great coffee shops throughout.

  23. Sumudu says:

    I am lost for words. These are pretty amazing. By the way, I have never been to Virginia. It is on our list of places for our road trip. So may visit Richmond and check out the art.

  24. Wow. Amazeballs. Murals can really liven up even the busiest of cities. We also have murals in our central business district and its what keeps it more human. Without it, its just a bunch of boring old buildings with uninspired people. So I love the idea of painting the walls up to inspire people. Love this post. Hope i can see this walls of art in person 🙂

  25. Garda says:

    HI!

    I’ll go to Ricmond next week-end and I’d like to know if your have the adress for all or some of this georgerous graffiti?
    Thanks!

    • Gabby says:

      Hello Garda! If you go to the bottom of the post, there’s a lead to the map of all of these murals!

      Or search “Richmond” on my site! Hope that helps, enjoy RVA!

  26. Glenn says:

    huge fan of street arts! Great capture!

  27. Marisa says:

    Wow, those are such incredible murals! And they’re absolutely massive too!! I definitely need to pay a visit to Richmond the next time I go back east!

  28. Rachelle says:

    I love this! I’ve just started discovering street art in my current home town and it’s quite a journey! So many artists, so many differing styles. It’s really a wonderful adventure to find them all!

  29. Lisa says:

    Beautiful art. I have just returned home from Iceland and the street art in Reykavik is amazing.

  30. Sara says:

    Ah this is awesome! My boyfriend’s sister lives just outside of here (and he used to live here awhile back) so I will definitely be sharing with her so she can go check it out. Now I kinda want to visit her just to go see all this!

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