civic imagination

Projects and initiatives with a focus on improving or preserving social cohesion, cultural vibrancy and physical cityscapes.


Upon assuming the directorship of the Charlottesville Mural Project in 2017, the organization has seen an approximately 400% increase in projects annually. Additionally, the project has debuted the creation of the Charlottesville Interactive Mural Map to spotlight talented artists and present a fun experience for those interested in exploring the city’s murals. The project incorporates diverse voices and often uses artwork as a means for increased visibility and representation. The CMP incorporates community perspectives to showcase the talents of artists locally, regionally and abroad, while contributing to the cultural and visual vibrancy of the city.

Face to Face: Portraits of our vibrant city

Developed as a program of The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, This annual project uses the intimate process of portraiture to connect artists and community members who have different life experiences. Part portraiture and part biography, Face to Face uses the strengths, experiences, and passions of vibrant individuals in our community to inform masterfully created portraits. By providing artists an opportunity to explore social practice, this project fosters interpersonal relationships among the people of Charlottesville. It initiates dialogue about equity, value, and perception. Portraits are exhibited publicly and then gifted from the artists to the community members.

Creative Reckoning

Creative Reckoning showcases our community efforts to draw together artists, activists, and thinkers from to contribute an amplified creative voice on the subjects of race, history, and creativity as they pertain to Charlottesville and central Virginia. Including performances, exhibits, presentations, and community discussions, Creative Reckoning is about creating new connections, strengthening social bonds, and making waves.


Developed as a program of The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, smART KIDS provides students an opportunity to connect with artists from our community while learning and creating together in an after-school setting.  The Bridge provides a welcoming environment, allowing kids to engage with the creativity happening in their own community. addressing a deficit in arts funding for public schools, kids have unique opportunities to discover talents, interests, curiosities, problem solving and critical thinking skills in a comfortable and inspiring environment. The program provides a paid opportunity for community artists to share their practice, connect with their community, and learn from youth, too!


StoryStream is an experiment in story-listening. A partnership with the University of Virginia, this project utilizes a vintage Airstream trailer as a mobile “Story Diner” and recording booth. Students collect and share the perspectives of members of our unique Charlottesville community. Participants are greeted as they enter and are invited to order a story from the chalkboard menu. After listening to a cassette tape recording of a Cville story, they are invited to contribute stories of their own. This project is a tool to connect UVa students to the community while chronicling a vibrant and changing city. It brings a creative experience outside the walls of an art gallery to people who might not know they would like a cultural art experience.

Reconnecting to Our waterways

Reimagining Indy's network of waterways as a catalyst for engagement and an asset for stronger social connections and better neighborhoods. Equipping artists to envision their craft as a social practice for stronger community and cultural vibrancy. A partnership with Reconnecting to Our Waterways and Big Car Collaborative.

Rethink. Reconnect. Reclaim.

This seven part series explored creative approaches to revitalizing communities and improving public places. Participants strategized with leading thinkers from across the U.S. and beyond in the fields of environmental art, creative placemaking, and tactical urbanism. In pursuit of a better city, neighbors gathered to reimagine our public spaces and bring new energy to the city.

The Pogue's Run Pursuit

A walk lead by Artist Sean Derry took place along the historical but hidden banks of Pogue’s Run (now diverted into an aqueduct beneath the city). Participants navigated old-timey maps through the modern city while considering the changing nature of our landscape, the role of creativity in city-making, and the value of a community's natural resources.


The Long Blue Line

In his project “Charting Pogue’s Run”, Sean Derry set out to memorialize our native waterway with a long, blue line and iron markers mapping the stream’s 1831 path. Derry shared his perspective and experience of completing such a massive public art project.

Sparking monument circle

During this brown-bag lunch, artists involved with placemaking efforts on Monument Circle, Indianapolis discussed placemaking and their experiences creating art that engages people. Artists Jim Walker, Stuart Hyatt, and Ash Robinson shared their artwork and how they engage in people-focused art. The conversation included tour of Monument Circle placemaking efforts led by Big Car Collaborative's Jim Walker.

Mary Miss : Environmental Art

This discussion with renowned environmental artist Mary Miss offered insight into her work and creative process. Additionally, the discussion focused on the intersection of art and science and her contributions to the StreamLines project (National Science Foundation) underway now in Indianapolis.

David Engwicht : Placemaking Lunch Convo

This conversation reflected upon the impact of specific creative placemaking projects and their effect on our cityscape. Attendees participated in a dialogue with Australian public space guru David Engwicht. We discussed the challenges and outcomes of creatively transforming our shared spaces.

David Engwicht : Street Reclaiming

David Engwicht is one of the world’s most inventive thinkers and writers on creating vibrant public spaces. This presentation shared insight from his experiments in Creative Placemaking and explored how they relate to our public spaces in Indianapolis.


Creative Placemaking Workshop

The culmination of this seven part series, this workshop invited artists to conspire for the good of their communities. Creative placemaking and tactical urbanism experts Anthony Garcia from Miami, and David Engwicht from Australia assisted artists in developing creative interventions for public space along our waterways.


Indianapolis is known as the "Crossroads of America". It's appropriate for Indy to embrace the potential of its roadways as more than just motor vehicle thoroughfares. By working with Internationally acclaimed street painting artist Peter Gibson we completed 6 projects along Pleasant Run. Additionally, we used this opportunity to engage neighbors in traffic calming tactics for southeast neighborhoods and completed a workshop focused on educating community artists in road painting skills for future projects. While in Indianapolis, we organized a presentation on Peter's extensive body of work for interested artists and community members.


Working with the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, The Mapleton-Fall Creek Community Development Corporation, People for Bikes, and the Netherlands Bicycle Ambassador, this project reimagined a north side neighborhood's roadways as complete greenways. By planning, testing, collecting data and feedback, studying results, and permanently implementing changes, the goal is to find low cost/low risk solutions for creating neighborhood roadways suitable for pedestrians and cyclists as well as cars.

Photos and videos: Kurt Nettleton

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