It was Sunday and I had just returned from a four hour drive from Charlotte, NC. I hate driving, and I get tired when I drive alone for long distances. An hour into that drive I was already making plans for my pillow and mattress. Well, my girlfriend was with me but she wasn’t feeling well because of Mother Nature and migraines. Sleep was the only remedy she wanted, so I drove back to Richmond alone, but with company.
[3hr 51 minutes later] We had arrived at my girlfriend’s apartment. It was time to get some rest, and though still tired from that long drive back, the thought of sleep quickly disappeared when I noticed a herd of humans gathered about a block and a half away. "Why the fuck are there so many people on this side of town?" I asked. The sun was high in the sky and I still had film left, so I had to go see what was bringing all these people across the 14th Street Bridge.
I never know when events are happening in this city until a day or two before (if I'm lucky) or like on this occasion, the day of. On this day, it was the Manchester Street Art Festival that was bringing everyone together. There were vendors selling Richmond inspired merch and other knick-knacks, musical performances in cleared-out parking lots, and multiple murals being painted on the walls of factories and local businesses. All of which came from the talent of local Richmond artist.
I roamed around to different areas, neglecting the vendors, but admiring the work that was being done by the muralist. I stopped and talked to a few artists who were working and asked about what they were painting. The first crew I came across was working on a mural of the Chesterfield Railroad. The painter told me the history of the mural and how the railroad was once powered by a mule-and-gravity (not sure why this is punctuated that way unless it is a valid/proper phrase. I think it should read "by a mule and by gravity" but if you know something that I do not know, carry on). The mule would pull the train uphill and let gravity drive the train downhill. He said the railroad stretched from here in Manchester to Chesterfield, hauling coal and other goods between towns. You’ll learn a thing or two if you stop and talk to a stranger.
I continued on down the road and saw another muralist at work. He didn’t want to be bothered and his short answers were the telling force. However, I did get the answer as to why he was painting this mural. He said it was a picture of his girlfriend, or was it friend... I can't recall which one he said. He pulled her picture out of his wallet to show it to me and then went back to painting.
After visiting every mural I could find, I made my way back home. I had a date with my pillow and mattress that I wasn’t going to miss.