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Our 2014 summer kickoff: Urban creativity

Hello summer! Our theme for our first Wandering Wednesday of the summer was "Urban Art and Creativity."

Our first stop: "The People's Library!" At the main branch of the Richmond Public Library at 101 East Franklin, folks have transformed discarded books into blank journals for anyone in the city to write in and include their history in the library's permanent collection. Anyone can check out a blank journal from The People's Library and fill it with memories, poems, images, collages, maps of favorite places, recipes, etc. Once you turn it in, it is assigned a card catalog number and is there for posterity. (Thrilled that the Bowling family decided to wander there with us! Our first guest wanderers of the season!)

My kids were eager to pick out their own journal and will be journaling their W3 adventures this summer, which we will turn back in to the library at the end of the summer for others to view. Check out the link below for more info. (Note: to check these journals out, you need a Richmond City library card which anyone in Richmond Metro can sign up for. We got ours on the spot!)

Our next stop on our Urban Art tour was the 2014 Richmond Mural Project, which commenced on Monday, June 16th and ends on June 27.

10 renowned international muralists+ 2 weeks in June =

20+ new murals on buildings throughout the city of Richmond.

Per their website: in its 3rd year, "The Richmond Mural Project is a yearly event with the goal of creating over 100 murals by world renown talent in the first 5 years alone. The recurrence and solidification of the project throughout this time will establish Richmond as a landmark destination for internationally recognized murals and will create exposure for the city, establishing it as a premier art destination...There are many additional benefits that the murals will bring to the city of Richmond. By specifically targeting walls in areas that are in disrepair, these murals can be positive catalyst for change."

I wanted to show the kids the artists "in action" painting their walls so we visited the following sites:

--Artists: Onur/Wes21 (from Switzerland, who are painting an abstract plane) painting at 501 E. Grace Street, Wall 1 --Artist: Robert "Tone" Proch (from Poland, who we watched paint an enourmous orange orb. Eager to see what the final piece turns out to be!) painting at 501 E. Grace Street, Wall 2

--Artist: Ron English (from New York, and known as one of the most recognized street painters in the USA) painting at 646 N 7th St, wall 2 (FYI- this one was VERY hard to get to as limited parking and only visible from the highway.)

For more info, check out:

From the Murals, we headed to The Proper Pie in Church Hill for lunch at 2505 E. Broad St., Richmond. I have been dying to try this place after reading about its award-winning savory and sweet pies from native New Zealander Neil Smith, who longed for the savory pies of his homeland. We had the tandoori chicken pie and the potato, bacon and cheese pie and they were to die for! If you ask my kids though, skip the savory pies and head right to the decadent and amazing sweet pies. After sampling the coconut cream pie, the chocolate chess pie and a "Lamington" (a sponge cake dipped in chocolate dipped in coconut), we were in heaven and almost in need of a nap as we ate too much!

We also made quick food stop was at the Sub Rosa bakery, to pick up a rustic loaf for dinner. This unique wood-fired bakery has been featured in the New York Times for its amazing croissants and bread. A fire in the building destroyed the bakery in 2013, but they have happily rebuilt and reopened thanks to great community support and an indigogo campaign. It was a great way to chat with my kids about the importance of supporting locally-owned small businesses.

Our final wander of the day was to Art 180 (at 114 W Marshall Street) to visit their inspirational gallery and a selection of student artwork from their recent "2014 Really Big Show." (Many thanks to staffers Michael Guedria and Mike Dulin for sharing the art and the Art180 story with us!) My kids were inspired by the larger than life silhouettes of "blessings and proud moments," hand-made books, kites, and jig-saw puzzle art that the student artists made.

"ART 180 promotes stronger communities through art-related programs for young people living in challenging circumstances. Partnering with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, Communities in Schools and ROSMY, ART 180 has offered hands-on art instruction to more than 350 young people to help them develop critical-thinking, problem-solving, leadership and communication skills while developing their artistic ability. For young people challenged by their circumstances—whether that's poverty, neglect, the constant threat of drugs and violence, etc., Art 180 is a way for these kids to have a voice, to share their stories and to encourage personal and community change through self-expression.'

Observations from the day:

--Though I love big cities, my kids are no doubt from the 'burbs. When we came out of the library, my daughter exclaimed: "Mom, someone graffitied our tire!" I had a good chuckle when I realized that what she was seeing was the chalk mark that a parking meter person used to mark my tire. More proof that my desire to get my kids out of their comfort zones and into new territory is warranted! They have much to learn!

--Despite the oppressive 100 degree heat while we wandered though our fine city, our destinations led to great conversations about life circumstances, blessings, the need to persevere, to take risks, and forge your own destiny, etc. Priceless...

--Lastly, both my kids came home and immediately wanted to start painting their own mural designs. They have even picked out the side of our house they want to paint on... we shall see about that... ;) Anyone have a building side they'd be willing to offer up to two kids?

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