By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
WAYNESBORO — In 2015, Ian MacRae founded a nonprofit and murals began appearing in the River City.
“We’re a nonprofit beautifying urban spaces with legal outdoor art,” said Terry Ward, artistic director of the Virginia Street Art Festival.
Ward assisted Nils Westergard in painting the seven-story mural of a girl with tulips on the old icehouse building near Constitution Park in seven days. Westergard also painted the mural on the wall in the parking lot of The Wayne Theatre in three to five days.
What were once plain walls in the city are now covered in artistic creations.
“You look at them now and maybe it lifts people’s spirits,” Ward, who moved to Waynesboro in 2017, said. “Spurs a human response.”
Ward said that the mural on the icehouse required a paint brush with a 30-foot handle and bucket lift equipment. Paint and other art supplies also cost the nonprofit. MacRae provides some funding, but the festival also relies on public donations and business sponsorships.
“Most of the artists, they’re donating their time, they’re donating their designs,” Ward said.
A recent mural at the Waynesboro Fire Department was painted by David Wayne to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and was completed in seven days, despite frequent interruptions by rain.
“Art is good. And now we’re beginning to see people come to Waynesboro to see what we do,” Ward said of tourism. The festival’s work has reached a point that “Waynesboro is beginning to be known for art.”
Ward said he thinks Waynesboro is becoming known as “the area’s art hub.” Members of the festival have been responsible for 20 murals in the city. Map pins on the festival’s website inform where the murals can be found.
“Everything officially affiliated with the Art Festival is in Waynesboro,” Ward said. However, the artists do not have to live in Waynesboro.
As artistic director, Ward has spent the past year recruiting artists. Previously, he was an artist with the festival. His stencil drawings of mallard ducks can be seen in various spots around the city.
“We’ve got some national artists with us now. We don’t exclude or include based on the location the artist works in,” Ward said.
For example, Nils Westergard was working out of Richmond when he painted the mural in the parking lot of The Wayne Theatre and of the girl with tulips on the icehouse near Constitution Park.
In 2022, Ward said that the festival’s plans are not yet set because space is needed to create art. Individuals interested in donating wall space may submit a form on the festival’s website. Wall owners have the right of art approval, but the artists do not paint murals for advertisement.
In the new year, the artists of the festival hope to get as much art of high quality in as many places as possible.