The corner of 2nd and Main streets in Old Town Warrenton got a bit of a facelift this week.
While workers on scaffolding patched up a stucco wall on one side of the street, two black-clad artists worked on a mural depicting scenes of Fauquier County on the other. The mural is being painted on the exterior wall of Molly’s Irish Pub.
“Greetings from OLD TOWN Warrenton, Virginia,” the mural says, postcard style, hash-tag “#LOVEWARRENTON,” almost hidden at bottom right.
Seven scenes depict life in Warrenton, current and historic, painted inside letters forming the words, “OLD TOWN,” that waft in a bed of turquoise, framed by an outline of navy blue. The artists were given photographs from which they drew their depictions, which include grapes, a caboose, a fox hunt, an old-time gas station and Model T, bicycling, a Christmas parade and the old Warrenton movie theater.
“The idea started with the Partnership for Warrenton Foundation,” the now-defunct Main Street organization that was replaced in 2017 by Experience Old Town Warrenton, said the new group’s executive director, Charity Furness. “And we brought the idea to fruition.”
EOTW considered multiple artists, she said, but selected Ross Trimmer of Sure Hand Signs “because his wonderful artwork complemented the feel of Old Town Warrenton, and he came highly recommended. He’s done other work in Warrenton,” Furness said.
For this job, Trimmer brought Michael Broth, a muralist he has known since high school in Fairfax and with whom he has worked for six years, “when this type of assignment comes up.” Trimmer works with brushes for detail and finishing. The muralist uses spray paint, 200 cans in bins at his feet. It was a two-day job.
As the artists collaborated, the street covered with plastic, ladders and bins of paint, two visitors idled by. Even in its state of metamorphosis, the mural delighted Juanita Marlett of Amissville and her daughter Leah.
“It’s so iconic of small-town Warrenton,” the younger Marlett said. “This is such a sweet and friendly town,” her mother said. “Warrenton needed and deserves something like this.
“The EOTW board, with our design committee as the lead, partnered with property owner Faye Richardson and Molly's business owner Casey Ward to select the design,” said Furness.
Placing art and drawing foot traffic, business and enthusiasm to the town is part and parcel of EOTW’s mission. The nonprofit has an annual budget of $86,000, Furness said. They paid $5,000 for the mural.
Broth had taken a break to eat his hamburger from Sibby’s on 2ndStreet. “Murals always serve a community well,” he said between swallows. “It makes a space into a place.”
He watched a woman pulling a cart containing a hay bale and what looked like the rear end of a scarecrow. She pointed to the mural.
“Hey, that’s perfect for selfies,” she said.
Reach Karen Chaffraix at firstname.lastname@example.org.