Lynchburg is filled with creative minds and their vibrant, passionate art. The Downtown area, which includes the James River Arts & Cultural District, has been a muse for many because of its history, enduring beauty and continuing growth. Art is an incredibly important part of who we are as a city, so we invite you to wander off the beaten path a bit and find some of the art that is being created in the city. Here’s a small taste of some of the pieces that you can see when you visit us.
Academy Center of the Arts Mural
This mural was painted in 2013 by Megan Wells, one of many large pieces of modern artwork that now dot the landscape of the Downtown area. Chosen for its portrayal of Lynchburg arts, nature and culture, this 131-foot by 51-foot mural took her most of the 2013 springtime to finish. Using equipment and paint from local sources like James T. Davis paint company and D.L. Bryant, Wells added classic symbology that she knew would stand the test of time: a cardinal and dogwood flowers to represent the state of Virginia, a musician to symbolize Lynchburg’s live music scene, a silhouette of the Downtown cityscape and much more. This mural remains on the Academy Center of the Arts building on Main Street as a tribute to the beauty and vibrancy of Lynchburg and the region.
The most recent artful newcomer that’s just minutes away from Downtown is this beautiful mural, “Make Waves”, painted this past June on the sheet metal wall of the Craft Crucible building. Artist Christina Davis painted it in four days of practically nonstop work. An E.C. Glass graduate and a mainstay of the LYH art scene for over a decade, Davis painted this mural as a way to “start the conversation”. “I’ve never found a Black girl on a wall before,” she says. Her career has ranged all over the city: she has taught art classes as a volunteer at the YMCA and Academy Center of the Arts, and she has also taught art at Blue Ridge Montessori School and online. Davis also owns a face painting business called Pick and Paint. She based this mural off the Black Girl Magic movement, a movement she grew up with that celebrates the beauty, strength and resilience of Black women. She plans to continue creating art like this around the city and hopes it will be inspirational and important to locals.
Cityscape on Bluffwalk
Perhaps one of Downtown Lynchburg’s subtler pieces of art, the Cityscape on Lower Bluffwalk is a stunning piece, especially when it is backlit at night. It runs the length of the Lower Bluffwalk 11th Street Terrace steps and ramp, and features the skyline of the Downtown area. This piece was commissioned in the spring of 2014 by Lynch’s Landing, now the Downtown Lynchburg Association, as part of the Lower Bluffwalk art plan. The Cityscape was created by local artist Paul Clements, who also created the LOVEworks sculpture at the Percival’s Island trailhead.
Helping Hands Mural
Located at the corner of 9th and Commerce Streets, this mural was painted in memory of Bev Cosby, an influential minister and advocate for social change in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. This mural is 25 feet by 50 feet and was painted in 10 days in 2004 by artist Michael Cooper. The hands in the picture were based on the hands of people who were close to Reverend Cosby, serving as a reminder to all onlookers of what’s possible when people work together.
Lynchburg History Mosaic
Located near Amazement Square at Jefferson and 9th Streets, this extensive mural project was part of the CityArts Mosaic Mural Project and was unveiled in November 2012. Even more exciting, this mural was created entirely by students from all over Central Virginia and directed by professional artist Beryl Solla as a summer project spanning multiple summers! The full length of this mural makes it one of the largest murals in the state, depicting from end to end (over 4,800 square feet) the history of Central Virginia from the time of the Monacan Indians up to present day. Broken tiles were donated to complete this project, which took seven years to complete, piece by piece and panel by panel. So next time you’re in Downtown Lynchburg and see this mosaic, take some time to appreciate all of the love and hard work that went into creating such a beautiful representation of the place that is LYH.
This bronze statue, known as the Water Bearer, has quite the history behind it. Originally made of zinc, this figure was purchased from a catalog as a decoration for the former Clay Street Reservoir. It was set in place in 1883, 50 years after the construction of the reservoir to commemorate the first day that it was filled up from a newly-installed dam across the James River. This statue eventually became weather-worn and fell over from its own weight, breaking into pieces. In 2013, it was reassembled, and a decision was made to recast it in bronze, which turned out to be an incredibly challenging but rewarding feat. In the summer of 2015, it was unveiled in its present home on the Lower Bluffwalk of Downtown Lynchburg. The Water Bearer continues to stand as a silent sentinel, timeless, with the verdant hills of the James River rising behind it to meet the sky.
The arts continue to grow and add to the landscape of our city and we invite you to seek these treasures out to contemplate upon and admire. Enjoy!