Artists needed for downtown makeover

Published 9:36 pm Monday, April 8, 2019

Suffolk’s Premier Art, Retail and Cultural Initiative is looking for artists to assist in a large-scale public art project this spring.

The SPARC Initiative announced on Monday its project for the Northwestern Train Station, a historic building located on South Main Street.

Submissions are being accepted for 24 pop-up murals that will be temporarily installed over the train station’s window openings. The structure is currently unoccupied, and the 59-by-41-inch windows are boarded with plywood, according to

Executive Director Carolyn Phillips said the building was chosen for its historic interest and its proximity to downtown. She said this project will beautify and “activate” the old train station.

“One of the things SPARC is trying to do is to activate South Main Street, where that building is located, and this is a good way to do that,” she said in a phone interview.

All artists are welcome to submit designs with any content or color scheme, as long as they are appropriate for public viewing. The SPARC initiative reserves the right to reject any designs that are deemed inappropriate for public viewing.

SPARC, a 501c3 non-profit, is also soliciting individual and business sponsors to select mural designs for this project. Sponsorships for each mural are $500, which will cover the painting supplies as well as a donation for the initiative.

“We wanted people to be creative with this and have a lot of designs so that our sponsors would have a lot to select from,” she said, adding that sponsors may also hire their own preferred artists to design murals.

Any individual or group can submit unlimited mural designs for this project with no submission fee. Artists living in or near Hampton Roads are welcome to submit, but individuals under the age of 18 must collaborate with an adult.

All designs and submission agreements are due by May 10. The designs will be unveiled at a public event in late September.

Permission and support for this project was received from various city departments, including Economic Development, Parks and Recreation, Planning and Community Development and the City Manager’s Office, according to the press release.

Visit for submission criteria. Contact Carolyn Phillips at or 338-0812 — email is preferred — for questions about the project and sponsorships.