How to Become the Banksy of the James River

April 19, 2018 · 2 minute read

In Richmond, it’s almost impossible to go more than a block or two before coming across a work of art. Murals covering buildings are found towering all over the city, but they’re not the only place to find public paintings anymore. Try looking down for a change. Storm drains around the Richmond area are getting a makeover and being spray painted to feature plant and animal life native to the James River.

The Paint Out Pollution campaign started by the James River Association aims to spread awareness of the harmful effects of runoff and the many forms of wildlife it impacts. Runoff not only pollutes the river, but it rushes into the water at a higher speed than is natural, increasing floods and displacing fish and other wildlife. Every time it rains, stormwater carries pollutants into the James River and its tributaries. With just a couple of stencils and cans of acrylic spray paint, hardworking volunteers are making a difference in the community.

Justin Doyle, Community Conservation Manager for JRA, is in charge of the campaign. He says the purpose of Paint Out Pollution is to “increase awareness of stormwater pollution through art” and that “over 100 storm drains have been painted since the campaign was first launched in 2017 and the demand for more is greater than we can keep up with.” There hasn’t been any opposition to Paint Out Pollution, giving hope that the James River might become fully restored and healthy.

A Banksy classic.

Getting involved is quick and simple — no artistic background required. To get started, interested volunteers can visit to fill out an application. JRA has partnered with Art on Wheels for this campaign, so all necessary materials will be provided. All stencils were designed by local artists. Volunteers are asked to bring work clothes, sunscreen, a lunch and water. The next meet-up day to paint the drains is Saturday, April 21, from 2-4 p.m. at the Chesterfield Community Development Building, 9800 Government Center Parkway, Chesterfield, VA 23832. Volunteers will be painting migratory fish species in celebration of World Fish Migration Day.

The art produced by Paint Out Pollution is already being seen by thousands of people in the Richmond area, but it could be more. Sign up to leave a lasting impact on the community and to help raise awareness for the health of the James River today!