Outsider art: Our favorite plein-air murals and sculptures

Filling a massive wall at 5th Street Station, “Rivanna River by Poseidon” is striking—but not universally loved. For the record, we kinda like it. Photo: Skyclad Aerial Filling a massive wall at 5th Street Station, “Rivanna River by Poseidon” is striking—but not universally loved. For the record, we kinda like it. Photo: Skyclad Aerial

In a self-styled art town like Charlottesville, you don’t have to step into a gallery to have an art encounter. There are lots of places to see murals, sculptures, and even interactive works from your car or the sidewalk, or while strolling through the IX Art Park. Increasing the accessibility, the Charlottesville Mural Project—which has installed more than 20 murals since 2011—has a new interactive map to help you locate beautifully painted walls around town. Here are six of our favorite outdoor art pieces.

“Rivanna River by Poseidon”

5th Street Station

Influenced by both graffiti art and classical mythology, this large installation by PichiAvo, two collaborators from
Valencia, Spain, has inspired love and hate in equal measure
from locals. Where do you come down?


The Rita Dove poem “Testimonial” inspired this mural by David Guinn on West Main Street. Photo: Skyclad Aerial


“The World Called And I Answered”

1309 W. Main St.

Artist David Guinn has some amazing murals to his credit. Oh yeah, and poet Rita Dove—whose “Testimonial” inspired this one—is kinda famous, too. The poem’s full text is painted at street level on an adjacent wall.

Free speech monument

East end of the Downtown Mall

Some might argue that the nearby Belmont bridge graffiti wall is the true monument to free expression. But we
prefer the mall’s public chalkboard for its visibility and ease of use: just scrawl whatever deep or banal thought lurks in your mind, and you’ll have contributed to public discourse in Charlottesville.

“The Nest”

IX Art Park

Of all the murals, sculptures, and ever-changing craziness at IX, we love the vegetated dome by Kasia Borek the best. It’s inviting in such a simple way, and we have a soft spot for art that photosynthesizes.

Barracks Road mural

Barracks Road and 250 Bypass

Of the nearly 40 murals listed on the CMP interactive map (charlottesvillemuralproject.org), this one by Chicho Lorenzo deserves a shout-out for its location in a place where people would otherwise be totally distracted by cell phones and traffic. Thanks for waking us up.

“Spirits of the Piedmont”

Georgetown and Hydraulic roads

Albemarle High School students commissioned and helped
to paint this one by Emily Herr and Eleanor Doughty. We’re impressed with its beauty and sheer size—the length of a football field!

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