Art is often one of the first seeds planted in the revitalization of a community. It can change the perception of a location and create a sense of pride in a neighborhood. Street art (murals) are perfect examples. Artwork can engage the community, bring people together, and create a sense of belonging. Paintings can help create a dialogue between people of different backgrounds, and to create a space for conversation and exchange of ideas. Murals are often deep-rooted in the history of an area. “Street art differs from an art gallery. It’s more accessible, and its scale is massive.” Marty Kotis, a local real estate developer, said. Kotis is using his love of art to paint a better picture for the communities he invests in.
Artists invest a lot of time into their community when painting something beautiful. Unique images create a trickle-down effect that can draw attention to a location, which can lead to increased investment in the area. Kotis added, “Street art can draw visitors to unlikely areas, and they can even become tourist attractions on their own.”
Another way art revitalizes communities is by breathing life back into spaces that have grown stale. Color and painted stories can make a space more vibrant and inviting. And through word of mouth, can create an identity for the space and area.
Street muralist Jenna Rice is involved in the Kotis Street Art Project. She is working on a mural in Eden on the backside of Kingsway Plaza. “I believe all communities need more art,” Rice said. She understands that art is an inspiration for children and people of all ages. “I am so happy to see more artwork in Rockingham County and hope to create more soon. I believe this is just the beginning of Rockingham County’s art expansion,” Rice added.
Mary Ryan, another local artist, stated that people are attracted to art they can interact with in some way as opposed to just viewing. Ryan added, “Art appreciation is ever expanding as people begin to fully recognize how it improves quality of life. I find that to be the most rewarding aspect. It’s a wonderful thing that everyone can walk or drive by art each day in their community and get to enjoy it.”
Kotis summed it up. “Unexpected art can brighten someone’s day. It can make them laugh. It can make them smile. It can make them think about an idea.”