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2 Local Artists Paint Vivid New Murals Depicting Life in The Little City

LOCAL DEVELOPER Bob Young (left) wanted the newest mural adorning his shopping center along E. Fairfax Street to pay homage to two late Falls Church icons — civic activist Barb Cram (right) and Councilmember Dan Sze. Cram died last June, while Sze died last July.

Falls Church City has added a creative flair while honoring key influential community leaders and paying homage to the Little City’s history and diversity with some new public art. It’s been a long time coming and the community is now seeing an emphasis on a more vibrant city come to life, as arts community leaders here hope it can become among the region’s leaders in creative inspiration.

In two new works of mural art, both artists drew inspiration from the City’s history.

While their previous works have been around for a while in the Washington, D.C. metro area their new ones are within the Falls Church limits and are not to be missed.

The first mural was recently completed on the east wall of the Southgate Shopping Center on East Fairfax St., across from the Falls Church Episcopal. This work was created by artist Bryan King and his assistant Kim Ciccarelli. It gets its title from Maya Angelou’s famous quote, “Be a Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud.” The work was commissioned by longtime business owner and resident Bob Young.

The mural was conceived by Young and created to memorialize two enormously influential people and thank them for their service and ties to the community — Barb Cram and Dan Sze, consummate civic volunteers. Also included in this work is Danna Lippman, daughter of former vice mayor and civic activist Hal Lippman. Danna’s presence is to show the Little City’s inclusion of those in our community with disabilities.

When viewing King’s work, citizens are urged to focus on the imagery of the recently renovated Big Chimneys Park, where a number of adults and children are depicted. The purpose is to show the City’s future population inclusive of far more diversity: to include all races, ethnicities and to be LGTBQ friendly.

King’s description of his work is that he likes to problem-solve. He creates his works with a very representative approach and hopes that through this he can give his audience a very interactive piece.

The mural includes a set of balloons which allows the viewer the opportunity to interact with the mural. The intent is to have viewers take pictures while next to the mural. The colors and design elements were achieved with an emphasis on allowing the mural to flow within the context of the adjacent parking lot and surrounding businesses.

King’s mural is his latest work in the D.C. metro area, as he has spent more than 30 years in the area. More of his work can be seen at his website, artificeinc.com.

David Barr’s latest mural is a juxtaposition depicting life in the Little City. (Photo: Courtesy David Barr)

The second mural is the creation of David Barr. Barr, a local Falls Church resident, has been creating art for over 20 years. It’s in the F.C. Police Department.

His work can be described as nostalgic, blended with modern pop, a style that stands out and leaves viewers wanting more. A member of the Washington Project for the Arts, Falls Church Arts and McLean Project for the Arts. Barr paints with a juxtaposition of texture, color and content.

His use of vibrant colors and space creates a unique experience for all. His works can be viewed on his website, barrart.com.

It was his mural in the outdoor dining area at F.C.’S Dogwood Tavern that caught the attention of F.C. Police Chief Mary Gavin, and she became a driving factor behind his latest work at the Falls Church Police Department.

The Dogwood painting, created in 2018, captures a visual history of Broad Street in Falls Church. The mural ties together several landmarks over the past century.

With his unique modern style, he was able to bring Falls Church’s history to life with his bright color choices while also paying tribute to several local businesses. The businesses are laid over a map of the area with a star to mark Dogwood’s location on Broad Street.

In this, his latest mural, the City police department wanted to bring many of those same elements which include vivid colors and historical references.

The work is located within the Falls Church City Police Department’s roll call room as it serves to achieve a more inviting environment for the officers in the space.

The department requested the work depict some must-haves, which included the famous ‘86 Volvo once used by FCPD and now fully restored and still used in parades.

Another key element was the Tinner Hill Arch constructed of pink granite, honoring the men and women of Tinner Hill who formed the first rural branch of the NAACP.

While they also requested the use of some iconic police badges and symbols, David was left with the task of tying all these images together in addition to using some iconic staples of the community, including the State Theatre marquee, the old location of Anthony’s Restaurant that was very popular in the community and the water tower circa 1959. It was located next to the State Theatre. It was a focal point during the holidays, decorated with a giant star on its top. The star is still used today in the City’s New Years Eve “Watch Night” celebrations.

The works of Barr and King are the latest in what many hope to be a series of new creative public works of art in the Little City.