New Dominion Parkway is an extremely busy thoroughfare that runs alongside Reston Town Center. Whether traveling by foot, driving or cycling along there, many passersby may have noticed a large, unfinished wall immediately outside one of the Midtown North Condominiums–reminding some, perhaps, of a large blank canvas begging for an artist to finally complete it.
That’s exactly what it looked like to Deva and JP Brehony who moved into that adjoining two-story, street-facing condo in 2011. When Deva Brehony, 56, an interior decorator with a seeming limitless well of energy and optimism, met well-known Reston artist Dana Scheurer at an exhibition of Scheurer’s paintings and saw her vivid, exuberant and often architecture-inspired works, Brehony knew she had found the perfect artist to create a wall mural that the entire community would enjoy and value.
“We wanted something happy, welcoming, an embracing design for people passing by,” said Brehony, who imagined a mural for quite a while but did not act on her idea until actually meeting Scheurer.
Brehony said she was inspired, too, by the wall mural near the old train depot along the W&OD Trail in Vienna, where she and her husband JP, a custom-home builder in Northern Virginia, lived before moving to Reston.
“Who wouldn’t want to do this,” said the equally inspired Scheurer, 62, whose Reston-specific artwork has graced many community group endeavors, such as the annual Reston Homes Tour.
“Reston is a wonderful community that’s given me so much. This is a wonderful way to give back,” she said.
For Brehony, connecting with Scheurer and her art, however, was just the beginning of the story of the mural that will finally get started this month and is expected to be fully realized in August.
Before anything could get officially and artistically underway, the mural’s approximately $30,000 cost had to be raised. After many months, many informational presentations and much diplomatic solicitation, that goal was accomplished at the end of March.
In one of those appeals, Brehony enthusiastically noted that it “advances the use of outdoor space for art, captures Reston’s history and culture in a highly visible mural … and further distinguishes Reston Town Center as a unique place in Northern Virginia.”
Among those who agreed are chief funding sponsors Kettler (Midtown North’s developer), Fairfax County’s Neighborhood Enhancement Partnership Program, Reston Town Center Association, Initiative for Public Art-Reston (IPAR), and the Reston Historic Trust, as well as local businesses and individual donors.
For Brehony, equally important to raising the funding was working her way assiduously through the maze of required approvals, including securing OKs from Midtown North’s Condominium Association and Reston Town Center Association boards.
The completed mural will have Scheurer’s highly recognizable, surreal yet representative painting style—large, bold architectural and geometric forms, with vivid colors, extensive detail and precise, well-defined edges. The observant will find a myriad of structures and landmarks located in the north end of Reston Town Center.
In the lower right-hand corner is a silhouette of Reston founder Robert E. Simon taking a photograph. If you look carefully, you will see Simon is actually photographing an inset painting that duplicates the larger mural.
Like much of her work, Scheurer’s painting is full of symbolic, sometimes whimsical elements. For example, Simon also is holding binoculars, signifying him as a “forward-thinking, visionary.” A small street sign in the mural says 6750, which is the number of acres Simon purchased to build Reston. A compass points north for Midtown North.
Despite all the detail in the final mural painting, her first drawings were even more complicated, Scheurer noted. But after speaking to other muralists, she decided to simplify to make it “more readable for those passing by.”
“I worked hour after hour for months,” Scheurer recalled. “It was a great collaboration [with Brehony]. We would send text messages and email images back and forth.”
The public should see activity begin at the mural site this month when Maryland-based stucco specialist, Robey Inc., applies a thin layer of concrete to the wall, which will then need to cure through August.
In August, Bryan King, head of Artifice Inc., in Arlington, and his team will take Scheurer’s 17.5-inch by 15-inch original painting and repaint it on the 20-foot by 22-foot wall.
Artifice, which specializes in large-scale mural, faux and trompe l’oeil painting, will photograph Scheurer’s painting, blow up the photograph and then create a grid, enabling King and his team to recreate the image one section at a time--sort of like a huge “Paint By Numbers.”
Among Artifice’s works are the “Masonic Temple Mural,” with trompe l’oeil bricks and architecture, in an office courtyard near the King Street Metro in Alexandria. It also did extensive faux-painted interiors for the main exhibition hall in the new U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
Artifice will be using the environmentally-friendly, low-maintenance and vibrant KEIM silicate mineral paint, which, according to KEIM’s website, “protects against pollution, acid rain, carbonation, mold and algae without flaking, peeling or blistering.” These paints, made in Germany, also are “resistant to UV light … and are incombustible producing no smoke or fumes.”
Those passing by on the first day of the actual mural painting in August will notice some very young, temporary addition’s to Artifice’s team. Children who live in Midtown North, students from Reston’s Lake Anne Elementary and Herndon’s St. Joseph’s Catholic schools as well as Scheurer’s six-year-old granddaughter Hayley have been invited to kick off the project by adding a few paint strokes that first day.
Brehony emphasized that from the start of the mural project she viewed it as a community artwork, and the approval and fund-raising process has intensified that perception. As a relative newcomer to Reston, she enthused, “I had to work with so many people in the community; I got to meet so many people. That was so cool, and aesthetically, it will look incredible on the wall.”