Plans for the Rivanna Watershed mural began in the fall of 2011. Upon the prompting of Rose Brown, Program Manager for StreamWatch, the Charlottesville Mural Project invited the Rivanna Conservation Society, Rivanna River Basin Commission, and artist Kaki Dimock to design a mural that would promote the importance of the Rivanna River Watershed and celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. This federal statute enacted on October 18, 1972, provides a national framework for the public and private sectors to implement programs to protect the “waters of the United States.”
Artist Kaki Dimock is known for her colorful ink and watercolor drawings that often depict animals and the theme of “home”. Dimock exhibits her work regularly throughout Charlottesville, often selling out the entire show. In explaining the meaning behind the mural, kaki writes:“This design is intended to honor and recognize the importance of the Rivanna River Watershed, which includes the river and its feeder streams. The iconic images of the built community mix with larger-than-life wildlife. The fish are organized in a celebration of the return of American Shad to the Rivanna because the Shad are an indicator of water quality as they can only thrive in clean, healthy water. Other fish are representative of the species that live in the river with the scales and patterns reflecting the diverse aspects of our community. They draw attention to the interconnectedness of the river: trees, grass, roads, bricks, mountains and suggest that humanity find a way to successfully balance these aspects to support the health of the river and thereby invite the return of the shad. The design is arranged in contained layers to reflect our natural world. While the surfaces of our natural topography seem solid, unconditional, permanent, I suggest they are fragile and fluid, each relying on and impacting the other. All of these aquatic creatures are closer than we think, so the distance between each layer is intentionally thin. The animals in the image are intentionally large. Their size indicates their importance and ubiquitous presence in our lives. They are busy managing the natural, wild world even as we are driving to and fro, throwing things into the garbage or strolling along the downtown mall.”
Painted on the back of the Tru Pilates business next to 1st St. S, the mural had the full support from building owners, Kurt and Alana Woerpel. However, due to regulations by the rail road department and the close proximity of the wall to the tracks, the mural had to be painted off-site in the Michie Building on Market Street. Inside the studio, artist Kaki Dimock applied her design and paints to four large pieces of material called “parachute cloth” and each measuring 30ft x 5ft. The cloth pieces were then applied to the wall much like one would apply wallpaper. The special gel adhesive used in the process guarantees a 25-year bond and protection from color-fading. This technique was adopted from the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia to allow for year-round painting even in cold temperatures.
Funding for the mural came from a Kickstarter campaign in which $8,000 was raised. Over 125 backers from across the country donated to the project. A plaque on the mural lists the valuable partners of the Charlottesville Mural Project who have assisted from the beginning in making the projects efficient and affordable. Those sponsors include: The Fund at Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Gropen, United Rentals, Blue Ridge Paint and Decorating, and Benjamin Moore. The CMP would also like to thank the individuals who helped support the project with their skills, time, or funding:
Greg Graham, Kurt and Alana Woerpel, Gabe Silverman, Jim Tolbert, Albemarle Angler, Sarah Lawson and Piedmont Council for the Arts, Ashley Walton, Robin Truxel, Claude Morris of Buckingham Branch Railroad, Rose Brown, Robbi Savage, Leslie Middleton, Mary Joy Scala, Ted Wright of Blue Ridge Building Supply, Kai Crowe-Getty, Andrew Eaton, Jim Stevens, Stan Marshall, Ryan Trott, Fabian Kuttner.