Don't believe everything you see

I wish the Pumphouse just north of the Boulevard Bridge in Richmond looked like this, a photo-shopped version of it worked up by Mary Blanchard when I was having a hard time articulating what I wanted the plywood window coverings to look like. They’re mostly dark brown now, with the occasional graffiti overlaid–not what this spectacular building deserves.

Last year with funding from the Friends of James River Park and the vision and hard work of Leslie Messersmith and Nga Nguyen-Weaver, who were teachers at the city’s Pine Camp Art Institute, we transformed an easier target, the westernmost wall of the Pumphouse, one of its almost always locked entrances, into a mural of the Atlantic Coast Railway Bridge over the James River.  A former FOJRP board member, Ken Hopson, had taken an award-winning photograph which became the basis for the mural that was completed by nine middle and high school students over the course of many winter and spring Saturdays at Pine Camp.

one section before it jumped up on the Pumphouse

You can imagine how thrilled I was when I walked in on the students working one day and saw this. What a magnificent job they did.  As stunning as their artwork was, the amount of math that went into the project was every bit as amazing. Imagine taking a 4 by 6 photo and transferring its image onto boards that were 8 ft to 13 ft tall and 4 ft wide. I might have liked math more in school had the end product been something like the above.

In June, my husband and son, with an assist from out-of-town relatives, affixed the boards onto the poor old Pumphouse plywood and this is what you can visit.

I know, I wish we could have done the door, too

Sadly, over the summer, someone tagged the rightmost panel, so it had to be partially painted over to cover the offensive stuff.  We do plan to restore it to its former glory later this year. If you bring young children to Pumphouse Park, please keep a tight grip on their hands as there are no fences to keep people from falling into canals or rocky spots, which is why kids like to run around there so much, no doubt.