WILLIAMSBURG – Food Lion is not normally where one goes to view fine art, but that’s where the Williamsburg Public Art Council’s first commissioned mural was unveiled at a recent ceremony attended by city leaders, members of the Art Council, and business owners and residents of Midtown Row, which is adjacent to the site.
The bigger-than-life size painting of the state insect, the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, is the work of Silas Baker, a Hampton tattoo artist who beat out eight other candidates to win a contract to create the mural. Baker’s artwork is also on view inside the Precarious Beer Hall in Merchants Square. He set aside his tattoo inks in 2020 to pursue a full-time career in fine art.
The butterfly mural is vivid but a bit out of public view, located at the back of an aisle separating the Food Lion from the ABC store. To view it, community members can access the parking lot behind the grocery store at 1242 Richmond Rd.
Robert Currie, chair of the Williamsburg Public Art Council, praised the artwork.
“Artist Silas Baker’s design celebrates our natural surroundings with brightness and color,” Currie said. “This is an exciting step for advancing public art initiatives in the City of Williamsburg that inspire exploration and community engagement.”
A second mural is already in the works. The council is now choosing among 13 applicants who are hoping for the chance to paint the next mural, which will be on an even larger brick wall to the left of the butterfly.
Exterior murals are only allowed for installation in Williamsburg’s B-3 zoning district, also known as Midtown.