The Roanoke Arts Commission and the City of Roanoke held a ceremony on March 31 at 10 a.m. to dedicate the Gateway Mural, located at the intersection of Tazewell Avenue under the Interstate 581 Bridge. Mayor Sherman Lea spoke at the dedication, followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony. The public was invited to attend.
The project, part of the city-wide public art initiative, began with the neighborhood groups asking for art in this location. A national call to artists yielded finalists experienced in the field of public art. A panel of neighborhood leaders, arts professionals, and Arts Commission members selected Brenda Mauney Councill, an internationally renowned artist. Based in North Carolina with a studio in Atlanta, Councill’s works include the largest contemporary mural dome in the southeast at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, N.C. Her career spans 40 years with works for the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, The Geller Foundation, The Advertising Club of New York, and philanthropist Sidney Kimmel, who claims, “she thinks and creates on a scale rarely seen in the art world.”
As part of the project, Councill visited the Southeast and Belmont neighborhoods of Roanoke to engage the community in “Paint Nights,” where local residents under the instruction of the artist left their own brushstrokes on the mural.
Each panel measures 58” x 15’ and features native wildflowers, historical landmarks, mountains and cultural and recreational assets of the region. The mural encompasses 2,500 square feet of painted surface. A total of 18 columns on the north and south sides of Tazewell Avenue were covered with 36 separate mural panels that were adhered like wallpaper. The installation took place from March 22 to March 30.
According to Susan Jennings, Arts and Culture Coordinator for the City of Roanoke, “Brenda’s experience and her plans to engage the community made her a perfect fit for this project. The Arts Commission was pleased to work with the Belmont Neighborhood Association and the Southeast Action Forum to bring this project to fruition.”