Purcellville native and Loudoun Valley High School graduate Ed Trask slipped quietly out of Loudoun County more than a decade ago.
Since then, Trask has made waves in Richmond and around the world with his street art and punk-rock drumming. For the most part, those waves have not sent as much as a ripple back to his home county.
Trask is one of three Richmond-based artists who have been commissioned to draw five large murals on the back of the Alamo Drafthouse in One Loudoun.The weather, and Trask’s busy travel schedule, have caused delays in the work, but the murals are still expected to be completed and officially unveiled by the end of July.
“The murals are the result of some discussion among the ownership,” One Loudoun Vice President of Marketing Julie Dillion said. “With houses going up behind it, we wanted to have something that is a little more interesting to look at than a blank wall.”
Dillion said One Loudoun Managing Director Bill May, came up with the idea for the murals and made the first contact with Richmond artist Steve Hedberg. Trask and Dave Lively were contacted by Hedberg, and after a meeting in Richmond to review sketches by the artists, the work was commissioned.
Trask had moved to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University after completing high school. Trask readily admits that some of his first works of art were not formally commissioned – or even completely legal.
“When I got out of the university, I wasn’t getting the gallery attention I wanted,” Trask said. “There were a ton of dilapidated buildings all around my studio so I decided to use some of my creativity and that these murals would serve as kind of a beacon call to say to the community, ‘Look, these buildings should be a library or should be something. So I started doing it illegally.”
From that point, Trask said he kind of drifted with the artistic currents into a very different art form.
“Then I moved to DC for a few years and joined this punk-rock band, the Holy Rollers,” he said. “It was fun. We pretty much toured all over the world.”
Somehow, Trask managed to keep one foot on his base-drum pedal and the other on his artwork for fire escapes or makeshift scaffolding – continuing his one-man quest against unkempt architecture.
“When I was touring, especially before 9/11, I was bringing along a paint kit and I was doing all these murals all over the world,” he said.
Trask and his wife, Kelly, have a daughter named Eleanor and a son named Loudon. Family life doesn’t go together well with touring as a punk-rock drummer, so Trask settled back into Richmond to focus full-time on his art. His reputation grew, and with the connections he made there, he helped start the annual Richmond Street Art Festival, which draws thousands of artists and art-lovers every September.
Trask now has an international reputation in murals and street art. He had been in Brazil the week before getting started on his One Loudoun project and was off to San Francisco for a project the week after.
Trask said he only works on “authorized” projects now. He said he only got into trouble a few times during his “grafitti” period.
“I did get charged one time with the destruction of government property,” he said. “Nothing much ever came of that.”
His artwork tends to be nostalgic – old factories, closed-down drive-in theaters – and also often champion the hard-working common man. He often incorporates power lines, separating diverse components while also tying them together.
“I am always at the mercy of the surface I am painting,” he said. “Sometimes, those sharp lines and right angles fit the composition. When they don’t, I can counteract that with sweeping, curved lines.” Birds also figure prominently in much of his art. “Birds are very spiritual animals,” he said.
He said he hopes the One Loudoun project will lead to other local opportunities in Loudoun County.
Dillion said the murals represent One Loudoun’s overall philosophy.
“They represent the five fundamental principles of new urbanism at One Loudoun – harmony, social, connected, organic and urban.,” Dillion said. “They are each going to work on one panel, and the three are going to work together on the other two.”