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Artist leaves his mark on Richmond with one can of paint at a time

“It is art that can be experienced.”
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Posted at 12:31 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 23:22:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- With colors bursting from a can, Hamilton Glass is leaving his mark across Richmond.

“I just love being out here having to work on something of a large scale,” said Hamilton. “All of my heart is on this wall.”

The artist thinks big and bold. His canvases? Brick walls.

“Working on a mural is amazing. I love the process,” said Hamilton. “It is art that can be experienced.”

When we met Hamilton in mid-August, he was working on a mural at the corner of Robinson and Cary Streets.

“Murals have always been a reflection of identity of a place or community,” explained Hamilton. “I’ve been painting murals since 2009.”

The Philadelphia native is considered one of the River City’s top mural artists. He studied and worked as an architect for seven years before switching careers.

“Life is short, so you want to do something you’re passionate it about,” Hamilton said.

Now, instead of designing buildings, he is beautifying them.

They are murals with a message that go deeper than a coat of paint.

Mending Walls is Hamilton's brainchild. Born during the protests last summer, the citywide project brings dozens of artists together.

“As my art has evolved I strive to include community,” said Hamilton.

On this mural, he is teaming up with high school art teacher Courtney Lebow -- who is using spray paint for the first time.

“You just have to embrace the artistic mess of life. That is what you have to do. It is a lot of layers to build that depth. It is so fun,” described Courtney. “Like I said, I’ve never worked with spray paint. It is so fun.”

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The pair is collaborating on mural depicting the children from the non-profit Rise for Youth.

“Its been a blast,” said Courtney. “Met so many people which is what Mending Walls is about. People coming together. The message is definitely about dialogue and important conversations.”

Mending Walls is attracting a lot of attention beyond Richmond, Virginia. Hamilton’s passion is front and center in a new documentary featured at the Richmond International Film Festival.

“Always worth it to put up a mural that effects lives daily through art,” said Hamilton. “The people will get to experience the passion and sweat that all of the artists went through to create these walls.”

The 40-year-old said seeing his artwork jump from a big wall to the big screen is an honor.

“One of the things that is wonderful is exposing people to new things like public art,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton is fielding calls from artists in other cities who want to mirror what is blossoming right here.

“It makes me feel great that people are going to see it coast-to-coast, and see how special Richmond is,” said Hamilton.

However long this public art lasts, Hamilton Glass hopes Mending Walls murals can find a permanent home in the hearts and minds and inspire those who pass on by.

“Mending Walls is a model what society needs to do,” said Hamilton. “We just need to find a creative way and doing it through art.”

Mending Walls: The Documentary premieres at the Richmond International Film Festival on Sept. 7 at the Byrd Theater. The film was recently nominated for “Best in Festival.”

If you know of someone I should feature in my “I Have a Story” segment email me at gmcquade@wtvr.com

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