Art McKinney's Train mural - Ashland, Virginia
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member 401Photos
N 37° 45.500 W 077° 28.931
18S E 281339 N 4181903
Quick Description: Art McKinney pictured his love of trains filling up an entire block of buildings with a mural. His concept was taken on by the Ashland, Virginia, community and completed in 2017.
Location: Virginia, United States
Date Posted: 5/12/2021 1:12:21 PM
Waymark Code: WM1484T
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 0

Long Description:

Art McKinney pictured his love of trains filling up an entire block of buildings with a mural. His concept was taken on by the Ashland, Virginia, community and completed in 2017.

"Vision becomes reality with mural" by Jim Ridolphi was published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on July 18, 2017. The article details Art's idea to add a decorative and historical mural that showed some of the trains that passed by his Railroad Avenue office. He shared that notion with Dan Dicandilo who went on to be one of the organizers of the project. The art work was funded with donations from local residents and businesses then completed within the 18 months after Art's death.

Vision becomes reality with mural

By Jim Ridolphi

ASHLAND — A year and a half after he left this earth, Art McKinney’s vision for a once vacant wall in downtown Ashland is coming to fruition.

For years, the legendary Ashland resident worked in his McKinney and Company headquarters above the Iron Horse on Railroad Avenue.

The company gained international acclaim and undertook engineering projects around the globe, but McKinney was most at home listening to a train pass through the town he truly loved.

The trains and the locomotives that pulled them became sort of a part -time hobby for McKinney, and one stuck in his mind.

Days before his death in 2016, McKinney expressed his desire to see a mural depicting the famous train on the side of his Railroad Avenue offices.

Thanks to a group of friends and supporters, the dream didn’t die with the visionary, and, earlier this month, the final touches were completed and the huge mural is attracting a fair share of admirers.

McKinney purchased many of the town’s downtown buildings at a time when the district’s future was uncertain.

“When everybody was giving up on Ashland, he was buying in,” said Hank Lowry, a good friend of Art’s and Ashland Street Parties organizer. “Art was the prime driver behind this block. He was the genesis of the rebirth.”

Lowry recalled one of his last conversations with his friend as they strolled down the sidewalk in front of his building.

“When we saw each other on the street we’d always have a nice conversation,” Lowry said. “The last conversation we had was where he described his vision for the mural. That was the last thing he wanted to get done here.”

Art teamed with ASP partner Dan Decandilo to organize Friends of Art, a group formed to raise money to make McKinney’s dream a reality. Donations poured in from the public, and, last year, artist Ken Trask began the project.

“Oddly enough, Dan had the same conversation about the mural two days earlier, so he talked to both of us about the project,” Lowry said.

One of McKinney’s favorite locomotives is the dominant feature on the block-long scene. In tow are a variety of boxcars with names of contributors subtly inscribed on the painting.

“This is the train that he picked, and he had a picture of it, and Ed Trask did all the research to get that exact train,” Lowry said.

The last components of the mural were completed last month, and Lowry said the colorful painting has become a sort of landmark in the area.

“People come and just stand in the parking lot and admire. Some take pictures of the engine or the engineer,” Lowry said.

Those who were actually friends of Art instantly recognize the engineer of the train, a figure that has a striking resemblance to Art McKinney.

“Many old-time Ashlanders recognize the engineer,” Lowry said.

The fundraising efforts were filtered through the ASP, and the $30,000 cost of the project was raised primarily through community donations.

Lowry said the response was overwhelming, and people who didn’t know Art freely contributed to the effort.

“We had contributions from a wide variety of donors from corporate to private donations,” said Lowry. The Town of Ashland also contributed to the project.

“What really moved my heart was the way that people gravitated to this project. People that previously had no connection to the town are now part of something that will last forever,” Lowry said.

The group is still collecting funds so future maintenance of the project will be funded by private donations and will not require public funds.

“Our goal is to have a $5,000 reserve fund,” Lowry said. “Then we can come back and touch it up when it needs it. I didn’t think we should give something to the Town of Ashland and then somebody else would have to pay for it later on.”

At the end of the train sits a plaque listing the names of many of the contributors to the project.

Others remain anonymous.

As Lowry leaned against that scroll, he stood and admired the mural at last completed and a lasting tribute to Art.

“I’m glad it’s finally finished, and I think it well represents the spirit of a great man and his vision.”

City: Ashland, VA

Location Name: McKinney Properties

Artist: Ken Trask, et. al

Date: 2017

Media: Paint on brick

Relevant Web Site: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and description of your visit. One original photo of the mural must also be submitted. GPSr photo NOT required.
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