FRONT ROYAL – Motorists traveling down Commerce Avenue may have noticed that murals have begun to bloom in the downtown area.
Over the weekend, Jacqui Ris, 18, a recent Warren County High School graduate, created a vibrant three-piece floral mural on the exterior walls of Fussell Florist after shop owner Betty Showers contacted Warren County and Skyline high schools searching for an artist for the project.
Showers said the building had just undergone a major facelift and she wanted to add the “perfect touch.”
For Ris, art has always been a passion and hobby. Her sister started out young as an artist and Ris said she followed in her footsteps. Over the years, Ris has taken various art classes in school and online and also attended the Summer Residential Governer’s School at Radford last summer, where she studied under professors who taught a wide variety of mediums including metalworking and photography. She said the opportunity allowed her to better understand the mindset of an artist.
“I was the only one at school to respond to Betty’s request for a student to create local art,” Ris said. “The high school’s art programs have been a little underfunded and have split over time, which is a little disappointing.”
Nonetheless, Ris said she was excited to take on the larger-than-life project.
“I’ve always been into the arts and being creative,” she said, adding that she “thought this would be fun to do over the summer” in addition to an internship with Mirandum Pictures, a Front Royal-based film production company.
Execution of the mural design took roughly three months. Ris said she worked with Showers to come up with a design that not only flowed well with the business itself but would be pleasing to the eyes.
“If you stand back and look at it, you notice that the wall is curved, almost in the shape of a wave,” Ris said. “When people drive or stop by, I wanted the panels to flow and not feel disjointed.”
Vibrancy and use of color was something Ris said she wanted to incorporate into her design. Showers had the same idea in mind.
“The design changed a few times,” Ris said. “In the end, we came up with something that really worked well. It highlights the building and the people inside.”
On Friday, Ris picked up her paintbrush and entered her world of creativity. Twelve hours later, she was finished. Ris said she didn’t think it would take too long. She said she was a fast and hard worker.
When Ris is not painting murals on town businesses she’s following her passion for “everything cinema.” This fall she will attend Virginia Commonwealth University, where she plans to study directing or cinematography.
“For a long time I really considered a career in the arts but within the last year or two years, I’ve been leaning more toward cinema as a career because I really like working as a team,” she said. “I like the idea of telling a story through a visual medium and, like murals, I think people receive it really well.”
Ris said she would like to do more murals over the summer and is not opposed to the idea, but she will probably focus on her internship and personal cinema goals.
“I would really like to see more murals come to Front Royal,” she said. “Art makes a huge difference in any community. The sad part is, a lot of people don’t realize how big our artistic community is here. We have two great art galleries and a large musical community, along with other art destinations that are really cool. I think art, definitely, the science of color, has an effect on people. You just have to portray it correctly, like colorful flowers.”
Showers said she was pleasantly surprised by Ris’ mural. But she expected nothing less than perfection.
“Her art teacher told us she was incredibly talented, and she certainly is,” Showers said. “You just have to go for your dreams, push forward and follow your dreams. It will come. Hopefully, that’s what she continues to do.”