The town of Blacksburg’s original 16 downtown squares have some amazing restaurants, cool shops and great people; however, one thing that may be unappreciated is the abundance of art. Coming from someone who lives 10 minutes away from another historic downtown area, Leesburg, I explored every corner of that town to see what was offered. When I came here, seeing the art in Leesburg inspired me to see if Blacksburg had anything to offer as well. While taking a casual stroll through the downtown area, I was able to find some unique murals and sculptures that are definitely something to check out.
School of Visual Arts building
The side of the School of Visual Arts building has many circles with a spectrum of colors running up it. The group of circles, which is also the logo for the School of Visual Arts, has a vibrant color scheme that can be seen from the Squires Student Center.
Kim Kirk’s anti-graffiti murals
As soon as you get from campus into the downtown area of Blacksburg, turning into the alleyway next to D. P. Dough will reveal a variety of murals that were a part of Blacksburg Neighborhood Service Coordinator Kim Kirk’s anti-graffiti campaign. The murals, which extend all the way to Draper Road, display images of a man with an umbrella, a woman in a black and white dress, and more. It’s a little bit of a hidden gem, but taking the time to go through and appreciate the art is worth it.
When you explore downtown Blacksburg, you will definitely see a statue of the iconic HokieBird. Each bird has a unique look to it, and they can be found in front of locations such as the National Bank of Blacksburg and Mellow Mushroom. The birds were placed in 2006 by the Gobble De Art project, and it shows that the town of Blacksburg embraces Virginia Tech and the traditions that surround the school.
The town of Blacksburg held a contest for local artists in the summer of 2018 to redesign the storm drains to bring awareness to the protection of our water. Four out of 55 designs were chosen and each winner was able to showcase their artistic abilities. The winners, Michael St. Germain, Shohana Levenson, Nicole Hersh and Ben Oderwald were each awarded $350 for supplies to paint their winning designs onto the storm drains. The multiple designs can be found spread around the original 16 squares downtown, and each has a unique style to it. The vibrant designs are hard to miss. The water that goes into the drains doesn’t travel to a water processing plant, but into the New River; making people aware of what is actually going into the drain is important for the sustainability of the water supply in Blacksburg.
“For Her Love Of The Arts”
A mural in dedication to Stella Rose Mullins Cranwell designed by Chris Pritchett was painted in 2014. The mural, titled “For Her Love of the Arts,” can be found at Market Square Park. Each panel represents a different part of history for Blacksburg and it has a consistent color scheme of orange, white and black. Right now there are only three panels that showcase the Huckleberry Trail, Market Square Park and Alexander Black House; however, there will be more panels added in the future.
Even with this small list of works, there are still so many different forms of art that can be found in Blacksburg. To see this artwork in person, go out and explore the town — discover the creativity that comes straight from the people of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech.