New murals add color to Old Town businesses

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The mural at 106 N. Lee St. (Photo Credit: Missy Schrott)
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By Arya Hodjat and Missy Schrott | [email protected] 

Instagram-savvy Alexandrians have more places than ever to boost their social media aesthetic.

Three murals have been painted in the city in recent weeks to support positive causes and look stylish at the same time.

Fibre space

Fibre space, located at 1319 Prince St., is a yarn and sewing store that aims to break the stereotype around knitting, owner Danielle Romanetti said.

The fibre space mural at 1319 Prince St. (Photo Credit Missy Schrott)

“Your average person who doesn’t knit probably assumes that most of the people who buy yarn from us are older women,” Romanetti said. “And that’s not really a reflection of who the modern-day knitter is.”

With the store’s 10-year anniversary taking place this summer, Romanetti decided to put the store’s original mascot, fibre girl, on the side of the building. The mural portrays a girl dressed as an astronaut, sewing needles in hand, sitting on a planet of yarn.

“It was really the idea, when we first had her drawn, to portray a funkier, hipper vibe for the store,” Romanetti said.

Alexandria-based artist Matt McMullen began painting the mural in late June and completed it in early July, Romanetti said.

“She’s very retro 50s,” Romanetti said. “A bit more funky on the eyes.”

Butterfly Effect

Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker came across the Butterfly Effect project when she was scrolling through Instagram one day.

San Diego-based artist Tasha Wahl started the Butterfly Effect in 2013. The grassroots movement intends to create a “ripple effect of contagious generosity,” according to its website. The Butterfly Effect name comes from the mathematical theory that states that even the smallest action — such as a butterfly flapping its wings — could spark change on a much larger scale.

The Butterfly Effect mural at 924 King St. (Photo Credit: Missy Schrott)

True to the name, each of the Butterfly Effect murals – called Social Butterflies – is a pair of butterfly wings. Since 2013, more than 200 Social Butterflies have been painted around the world.

Alexandria’s Social Butterfly iteration was painted on the side of 924 King St., the site of Bloomer’s, on June 30.

“I thought it seemed like a great project to bring to Alexandria because it has both public arts and philanthropy involved,” Bennett-Parker said.

And indeed, those who partake in the artwork can contribute $5 to a local or national nonprofit on a list of 250 provided by ACT for Alexandria, Bennett-Parker said. The money for donations comes to ACT for Alexandria through Wahl, as well as an anonymous donor, Bennett-Parker said.

To secure the donation, those who take a picture of themselves at the mural can send the photo, with the nonprofit of their choice in the subject line, to [email protected] They can also text the picture and the name of their preferred nonprofit to 202-681-7549, according to a news release.

The nonprofit that receives the most social media posts tagged with @elizabethforalx and including the hashtags #inclusiveALX and #butterflyeffect will also receive an extra $500, according to the release.

While there are hundreds of iterations of the mural nationwide, Bennett-Parker said she worked with Wahl to help make a version of it unique to Alexandria. The city’s mural includes the phrase “Be the change you want to see in the world,” commonly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, in English, Spanish and Arabic.

“I thought, given Alexandria’s diversity, we should have a multilingual butterfly,” Bennett-Parker said.

ALX Community and Old Town Boutique District

The third mural, shown on page 1, is located on the south side of the ALX Community building at 106 N. Lee St.

The mural at 106 N. Lee St. (Photo Credit: Missy Schrott)

Painted by muralist and Alexandria-based artist Meg Biram, the mural includes a rainbow of colors and text reading “Old Town Alexandria.” A bench directly in front of the artwork provides visitors and residents the perfect place to pose for a photo.

The mural was funded by members of the Old Town Boutique District, ALX Community and other area sponsors. OTBD announced the installation of the mural on July 9, and Biram painted it shortly after.

The project’s purpose is to engage visitors through interactive art that portrays the character of Old Town and its passion for inclusivity, according to a news release.

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