The Richmond Greenway got a huge makeover this summer – from colorful murals to mosaic benches to hand-welded bike racks – thanks to $65,000 in grants through Richmond’s Neighborhood Public Art program. The summer’s projects culminated in a multimedia exhibit at the Richmond Art Center called Art on the Greenway that will remain until November 9, 2012.
The Richmond Arts & Culture Commission awarded NPA grants to three different entities this year: The Community Rejuvenation Project for eight murals and five mosaic benches, EarthTeam for welding workshops and multimedia documentation of all NPA projects, and the Richmond Art Center for hosting mosaic and screen printing workshops and curating the Art on the Greenway exhibit.
Dozens of community organizations participated alongside all three grantees, including Richmond Spokes, Urban Tilth, YMCA East Bay, and the National Park Service. All projects involved young people and all emphasized the development of the Greenway as a platform for public art, urban agriculture, and community events.
“I like to refer to the Greenway as the backyard of the city of Richmond,” said Lana Husser, project manager of the EarthTeam grantees, during the exhibit’s opening reception on September 22.
EarthTeam’s Green Screen Team, made up of Richmond students, created a 30-minute video documenting the 2012 Neighborhood Public Art projects. The video will air multiple times, Husser said, on the local television station KCRT.
“We’ve been videotaping since long before the summer began,” said Husser. Some footage used in the final video, she said, was shot in 2006, “So you can see what the Greenway looked like when we had lots of abandoned land out there. Now, the beautification has begun. Our job is to show people. We want young people to say, ‘Yeah, that’s our backyard, that’s our Greenway,’ and they’ll see that they can come out and be a part of that.”
Among other projects on display in Art on the Greenway exhibit, the “Richmond RIDES” photo project showcases Richmond’s cyclist community. Najari Smith and David Meza coordinated a photo shoot of cyclists and their bikes on the Greenway one afternoon in late August.
“The Richmond Art Center picked nine photographs,” Smith said. “We had close to 1,000.”
Smith said the project was the first effort of “The realRICH,” a civic pride campaign he’s helped launch that he hopes Richmond residents will use as a platform for promoting and organizing cultural events.
The beautification of the Richmond Greenway is an ongoing effort. Abandoned railroad tracks have gradually given way to bicycle and pedestrian paths, community vegetable gardens, and art projects developed by neighbors, nonprofit groups, and even statewide legislation. In March 2012, the California State Parks Office of Grants and Local Services awarded the city of Richmond $5 million as part of Proposition 84 to further develop the Greenway from 2nd Street to 20th Street.
“It makes you feel positive about the future,” said Michele Seville, the arts and culture manager for the city. “I encourage everyone to go out on the Greenway. Stop your car, get out, and walk around.”