People can soon see varied art installations representing the Atlantic sturgeon along the Appomattox River Trail (the ART). “Art on the ART” is a Public Art Project organized by Richmond CultureWorks Tri-Cities Program Manager Daniel Jones to celebrate and increase awareness about the on-going effort to protect sturgeon and their habitat.
While the Atlantic sturgeon were thought to be nearly extinct in the rivers just two decades ago, these prehistoric fish are the focus of a conservation effort started in the Hopewell-Prince George area to bring back them to the Appomattox and James Rivers by improving their spawning grounds and the water quality. These days, people can see these magnificent creatures breaching in the rivers through excursions offered by the James River Association.
The goal of Richmond CultureWorks for this project is to create public art for the enjoyment and pride of the community and to raise awareness of the local non-profit, Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR), whose mission is to conserve and protect the Appomattox River for all to enjoy.
“As a wildlife biologist and artist, I am extremely excited about and ready to whole-heartedly support this project! The comeback of this species indicates good health in the river habitats of the James and Appomattox Rivers, since these fish use the river bottoms to feed and lay eggs and too much silt would hinder these activities. So, it is a wonderful idea to raise awareness about this local species along the Appomattox River Trail.” Susan Watson, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and FOLAR Board Member
Local artists and businesses are sponsoring the art with the installations scheduled for September 2022, which is the breaching season for these resilient creatures. The locations of the installations have already been selected along the Appomattox River Trail & Park System in Prince George County, Cities of Hopewell, Petersburg, Colonial Heights, and the Counties of Dinwiddie and Chesterfield. In the beginning there will be one installation per community.
Each participating artist will create a unique piece of sculpture representing the Atlantic sturgeon that can be life-like or abstract. Three-dimensional sculpture/installation or two-dimensional graphic rendering, life-sized (4-6 ft. long) projects are being considered.
This idea is based on similar public art projects in Chicago (cows) and Norfolk (mermaids). The locations of the unique sculptures will be featured on the sculpture with a QR code and a plaque about the artist on the base of the art. Watch for the grand opening announcement of this “Art on the ART” project coming this September…
About Richmond CultureWorks:
CultureWorks values diversity and inclusivity and believes everyone in the community should have access to arts and culture, as well as the opportunity to express their culture through the arts. Their vision is a vibrant region with empowered artists and arts and culture organizations. They will accomplish this by providing grant opportunities, deepening access to communities with barriers, increasing the capacity of small and medium-sized organizations and individual artists, and the promotion of events to the public. For more information, please contact Daniel Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-536-3025.
About the Atlantic Sturgeon:
The Atlantic sturgeon is considered a living fossil. Adults may live up to 30 years and grow up to 14 feet and 800 pounds. Hatched in the freshwater of rivers, Atlantic sturgeon head out to sea as sub-adults, and return to their birthplace to spawn, or lay eggs, when they reach adulthood. Many partners are involved in their restoration, including the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Virginia Commonwealth University, James River Association, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, Luck Stone Corporation, and Vulcan Materials. More information can be found at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/atlantic-sturgeon.
About the Appomattox River Trail:
The Appomattox River Trail is a developing 25-mile blueway-greenway winding through the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, and Prince George, and the cities of Petersburg, Colonial Heights, and Hopewell, from Lake Chesdin to the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers. The trail includes a network of bicycle-pedestrian paths, 16 riverside parks, and eight boat access points. Guided by a Master Plan adopted in 2017, FOLAR is working in collaboration with the community to bring this vision to life.