After being delayed several months by persistent bad weather and the artists’ busy schedules, the giant murals at One Loudoun are finally finished and ready to be officially unveiled for the public.
One Loudoun has announced a ceremony is planned Sept. 22 to officially present the five murals — measuring a total of 6,000 square feet — to the world.
The event is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. in back of Alamo Drafthouse, 20575 Easthampton Plaza. The three artists will be on hand and the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra will provide music to set the mood.
“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. Two other mural artists — Ed Trask and Dave Lively — were contacted by Hedberg and after a meeting in Richmond to review sketches by the artists, the work was commissioned.
“The murals represent the five fundamental principles of new urbanism at One Loudoun – harmony, social, connected, organic and urban,” Dillion said.
Trask is a Purcellville native and Loudoun Valley High School graduate who 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 said he hopes the mural project at One Loudoun will be the first step toward reuniting with his Loudoun roots.
He said the death of his father, Newell, in 2017 had a profound effect on his viewpoint on family and his hometown.
“Losing my father has been rough on my mother,” he said. “She still lives in Purcellville and I have two siblings still in the area.”
After finishing high school, Trask took off to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University. That is where he began his artwork on oversized canvasses, and he readily admits that some of his first works 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 so 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 fire escapes or makeshift scaffolding — whatever he could stand on to create his art and continue 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 painting. 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, and 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 it.”
Trask’s artwork tends to be nostalgic – old factories, closed-down drive-in theaters – and also often champions the hard-working common man. He often incorporates power lines, using them to separate diverse components while also tying the overall work 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.
Trask’s father held advanced degrees from MIT, the University of Colorado and Harvard, serving with the Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War and then with the U.S. Geological Survey during the Apollo space missions. He served as a special consultant to CBS during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Somehow, this very grounded man had a big influence on his son and his larger-than-life artistic expression.
“I would always look up to the stars, and to the heavens, and whenever I asked my dad a question, he always knew the answer,” the artist said. “He described the chaos that was going on in the universe that we could barely see. When I started looking at these buildings, I would see the sharp lines and angles and I would contrast that with the chaos going on beyond them. That features heavily in my art.”
The three artists each worked alone on one mural — the two ends and the one in the middle. They worked together on the other two, blending the overall piece into a continuum.
The total effect is stunning, with the splashes of color giving the neighbors something much more interesting to look at than giant, blank walls.