Why A Mural?

It was an awesome journey planning and helping paint the midtown mural found on the side of Bremo Pharmacy in the Crossroads Shopping Center.  Richmond has become well known for its public art over the past few years.  With events like the G40 Art summit, the Richmond Mural Project, and the RVA Street Art Festival, more and more murals are adorning the buildings of downtown Richmond.  Bremo first started thinking about an outdoor mural a few years back, when our IT consultant, Scott Kaefer, suggested we join in on the trend.  With the Crossroads Art Center right next door to us, we thought a mural would be appealing to many of the people who frequent the Crossroads Shopping Center.  We also thought it might get the attention of people driving by, who may not have noticed our shopping center.   As a pharmacy that specializes in senior care, compounded prescriptions, and many other specialty items, often our customers have sought us out.  We’ve frequently been told by new customers, “I drive down Staples Mill Road all the time, and I never noticed Bremo Pharmacy was even here.”  We noticed how visible our nearby merchant, Pedal Power became when they had a cycling mural painted on their building, and thought more about the idea.

In August of 2013 I went on a Segway tour of Downtown Richmond that showcased many of the murals in downtown Richmond.  I found many of the murals to be really cool, while others were a bit odd.  The tour guide was very informative.  Some of the murals seemed to have a story or meaning behind them, while others were just sort of random.  There was one in particular that I really liked.  It wasn’t as much because of the art itself, but more the nostalgic feeling it gave me that drew me to that painting.  It was a window shop that depicted what a local merchant in this building would have looked like in a bygone era.  As I looked at this mural, this is when I really began to visualize a mural at our site, and how the mural could connect our shopping center with our local community.

It was a year later before our plan began to take form. With Willow Lawn newly renovated, and Libbie Place under construction, it seemed like the perfect time to give our shopping center a new look.  We met with our landlord and the other tenants in the building, to talk about what sort of mural design would represent best what the merchants of the Cross Roads Shopping center have to offer.  We agreed on a street scene, inspired by the mural I had seen last summer.

We were then faced with the challenge of finding a muralist to design and paint the mural.  Sir James Thornhill is a local artist that grew up here in the city of Richmond.  He and his associate, Michon Pittman met with us to talk about the project.  James explained that as a muralist, who displays his art in a public forum, he holds a responsibility to the community for his art to evoke a positive attitude, and to inspire community involvement.  We were impressed with how his philosophy matched up so well with our core values as a company.  We knew that we had found a great fit.  Michon got busy designing the artwork.  The plan was to represent the shops within the shopping center, but as if we had stepped back in time.  The silhouettes of people walking along the street scene, as well as the billboard on the rooftops were a part of the design to build an inclusive community scene that was inviting.  Once the design was complete James and Michon began mapping the outlines of the mural onto the side of the building.   They began with an outline, and marked it up, like a giant paint by number.  James then coordinated a team building exercise in the form of a painting party.  The staff of Bremo Pharmacy and their families, all came out to assist the artists with painting the mural.  We had a great time working together to paint the scene.  We coordinated our painting party with the Crossroads Art Center’s Third Friday Art Walk.  Many enjoyed watching the mural come to life as we painted.  Thankfully, after the event was over James & Michon came back and touched up anywhere that the Bremo team didn’t stay within the lines!

We are very pleased with how our mural turned out.  We feel that it improves the look of the shopping center and better connects us with Richmond’s Midtown community.   If you haven’t seen it, be sure to stop by and check it out.

Catherine H Cary, PharmD

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