Calling Young Artists

Arts Council Seeking Mall Mural Contributions

Posted: March 25, 2014

The Arts Council of the Valley is hoping to install a mural on this wall at the Valley Mall sometime this summer. The group is requesting design ideas from young artists. Submissions should be made by March 31. (Photo by Courtesy of Ragan McManus)
In this rough sketch of the mural superimposed onto a photo of the space it will occupy, the Valley landscape theme is evident. Design ideas from local youth have not yet been incorporated into this preliminary mock-up. (Photo by Illustration Courtesy of Ragan McManus)

Local children and teens may have the chance to see their artwork on display in a big way: on the side of Valley Mall.

Downtown Harrisonburg is peppered with years-old colorful larger-than-life murals, but the heavily-trafficked business area around the mall has yet to see much artistic activity in that regard.

The Arts Council of the Valley is hoping to change that this summer, but for now, it’s looking to incorporate central Valley youth into the planning process.

The group has been making plans for the mural project since last summer, and it’s almost time to put pen to paper — or, in this case, brush to wall.

Though youth won’t be able to physically paint on the upcoming mural due to limitations associated with liability insurance, they can submit their images, which local artists might choose to incorporate into the project.  

How It Started
Last July, executives at the local mall reached out to Ragan McManus, executive director of the arts council, saying, “ ‘Hey, we have this blank canvas; it’s pretty much an eyesore,’ ” explained Cortney Carderelli, leasing development and marketing manager with the mall.

“We’ve always thought that a mural would be a really neat idea but just didn’t know how to go about doing it,” she added.

So, she met with McManus one afternoon and explored the wall on the far end of the mall next to Belk and Old Navy, which is visible from the Target parking lot.

“[McManus] has just spearheaded the whole entire effort,” Carderelli said. “She was a great contact to make. …  We’re just kind of giving her the space and she’s running with it.”
Carderelli said she originally got the idea for a mural for the blank space from looking at pictures of large, bright murals beautifying Richmond.

“I thought, this is a great opportunity to get some of [the local] artists exposed outside of the immediate downtown,” McManus said. “You feel the arts; it just vibrates when you’re downtown …  but out on the outskirts, how often are we seeing public art? …  It was a great opportunity to kind of expand …  and bring art to the community in a way that will have so many impressions.”

The Details
A preliminary mock-up of the mural shows a mountainous landscape scene in warm yellow, blue and green hues.  

“We wanted it to really tie back to the community and to Harrisonburg and the Valley,” Carderelli said. “I just think that [the design] speaks really well to the area.”

Local artists Lynda Bostrom and Matt Leech have both been working on that design. Depending on the level of sponsorship the art council is able to secure, McManus said the group is hoping to have four or five other artists on site during the mural’s installment, which should only take about a week.

Or at least, that’s what the team is hoping, since every day on site costs money. After all, a 21-by-60-foot mural requires rental equipment.

“It’s also weather contingent,” McManus pointed out. “With the snow that we’re having, it may be better to plan [for] …  this summer.”

Originally, the arts council was looking at a start date on the install this spring, but planning has taken longer than expected and the weather has been less than cooperative.

“I’d love to see it go up this summer, [but it’s] going to be contingent on money,” McManus said, adding that a rough estimate of the project’s likely cost is $14,000 to $15,000.

Including The Kids
The arts council has extended the deadline for children and teens grades K-12 to submit ideas to the mural project until March 31. Youth can submit drawings, in pencil or black pen, of houses, other buildings, farm animals and/or forest creatures.  

“We love seeing what’s come in so far, and we’d like to see more,” McManus said, adding that her own children and their friends have been really excited about the project.

“I’d like to see that spark of enthusiasm get out and about to the masses,” she added.

Youth whose artwork is incorporated into the mural will have their name, age and school added to the artist list on the mural’s sign.  

“It’s going to be a huge honor for the kids that are selected just to have their work there and to be able to point to that and say, ‘I did that; that’s my design,’ ” McManus said.

For more information about the project and how to submit drawings, visit, click “Special Events,” and scroll down to “The Valley Mall Mural Project,” or call 801-8779.

Contact Candace Sipos at 574-6275 or

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