Keep up with the painting

Published 10:53 pm Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Artists continue to brighten up downtown Suffolk with detailed artwork. This year has seen vibrant murals put up for display at numerous local points of interests, and the latest artist to pick up a paint brush aimed for even bigger on Holland Road.

That artist is Troy Summerell of OnieTonie in Virginia Beach. Since last week, Summerell has been painting red geraniums at Ann Horton’s, a garden center on Holland Road. Both the small building and boards throughout the property have since been covered in the design, and the benches, miniature statues and flag poles have been painted bright blue to help make the red geraniums more eye-catching.

Owner Hoyt March and Kate Latham chose Summerell to give the store a makeover before the fall season because of his previous murals for the Neon District in Norfolk, the Vibe District in Virginia Beach and the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.


Email newsletter signup

“For me, a lot of my work is taking something old and making it new,” Summerell told the Suffolk News-Herald. “This is a great opportunity, and I’m loving the artistic freedom.”

Latham told the Suffolk News-Herald that the red geraniums aren’t just for grabbing attention. They’re also March’s favorite flower and reflect his efforts to celebrate art locally.

“Hoyt and his two friends created the Earth and Arts Festival, and it gives the mentality to celebrate Suffolk and celebrate the arts,” she said.

It seems like the trend of open-air art in Suffolk has been picking up steam since these murals started popping up downtown thanks to Keep Suffolk Beautiful, the Suffolk Art League and the downtown art studio OnePast7, along with the citizens that volunteered to paint them.

Wayne Jones and his Keep Suffolk Beautiful team were at King’s Fork Middle School for National Night Out earlier this month with their latest mural invitation. This one was 16 by 4 feet with designs based on the Suffolk Police Department’s “Lock It, Don’t Lose It” campaign, plus emergency vehicles painted in bright colors by eager children.

Jones said the mural was a thank you to the city’s emergency services and that it fit nicely with the evening. Personally, I’ve noticed the same thing with all of these murals, like the painted train beside the downtown courthouse or the Great Dismal Swamp scene by the Visitor Center.

They all seem to be a good fit that adds character to wherever they are in the city. I’m excited to see more come up downtown and add some variety to the streets. It’s a nice change of pace when your car is thumping over the train tracks.