back to top

Public Art Comes to Salem Avenue In Big Way

Artist James Ballough says The Lofts job was about “medium size” compared to past installations.

For more than a week patrons at Big Lick Brewing Company on Salem Avenue downtown kept looking “up” in curiosity. That’s because next door at The Lofts at West End Station muralist James Ballough, an American now living in Berlin, Germany, was busy painting a multi-story mural on the side of that apartment building. The work depicts a woman who appears to be falling backwards, perhaps knocked off her feet.

Ballough says the viewers can make their own assumptions; he doesn’t say what it means to him. “Especially with public art I find it extremely interesting to let other people come up with their interpretation. I’m sitting here all day listening to people over my shoulders say what they think it is.”  When he comes down from the lift used during the mural Ballough was often asked what it was about but adds “I throw it back at them and these big discussions start. That’s what public art is all about.”

He was hired by Bill Chapman, a Richmond resident who owns and redeveloped the building that contains The Lofts, Beamer’s Restaurant and Big Lick Brewing. Chapman also owns the building across the street that houses Tuco’s.  Ballough (pronounced Ba-loo) was originally approached by Chapman about another mural project that didn’t work out before coming to Roanoke for The Lofts project, when he spent about six days up on the lift he operated, mostly using spray paint to create his oversized painting on a brick surface. Another muralist from the Atlanta area helped him with the project.

This mural was about a year in the making; Ballough recently painted another building in Washington DC.  As for having beer drinkers or passersby watching him work: “when the painting is going well I like that. But if I’m struggling I start to feel those eyes on my back a little heavier,” he says with a knowing chuckle.

Ballough says The Lofts job was about “medium size” compared to past installations. He just finished a mural on two side-by-side 14 story buildings in DC. “I travel around the world leaving billboards everywhere I go. It helps my business and it also helps the city and the area a little bit. It’s not a bad job to have.” Ballough had gone through less than two dozen cans of spray paint with about a day of work still to go.

Gene Marrano


Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles