Jack Fralin with the Dorothy Gillespie mural in downtown. Courtesy of City of Roanoke.
Jack Fralin with the Dorothy Gillespie mural in downtown. Courtesy of City of Roanoke.

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to news@cardinalnews.org.

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Dorothy Gillespie mural in downtown Roanoke is being repainted

A prominent mural in downtown Roanoke is being repainted.

The mural was painted in 1979 from a 1975 design done in pastel by renowned Roanoke-born artist Dorothy Gillespie. It’s on the side of a building that fronts on Second Street, with the mural itself facing Church Avenue. Over the years, the once-bright colors for which Gillespie was known have faded.

Gillespie grew up in Roanoke and went on to become an internationally famous artist and sculptor. She received commissions from the Lincoln Center in New York and the Epcot Center in Florida. She was also prominent as an activist, once picketing the Whitney Museum in New York to raise awareness of women in the arts. She later taught at Radford University and died in 2012.

2020 was the centennial of the artist’s birth in Roanoke, and her son, Gary Israel, through the Dorothy M. Gillespie Foundation, has worked in communities across the county to showcase the work to which the artist dedicated her life.  “This mural is significant,” says Israel. “It is one of only two murals of my mother’s work produced in her lifetime, and it’s the only one that remains,” he said in a statement. “It’s wonderful that it’s here in the community so beloved to her.”

The City of Roanoke has piloted a public-private partnership strategy that allows public funds to support public facing art on private property. For the refurbishment of the mural, contributors include Downtown Roanoke, Inc. (DRI), property owner Quintessence Properties, led by Peter “Reyn” Holden, and the Dorothy M. Gillespie Foundation. The total cost of the retouching the mural is estimated at $18,000, according to city arts and culture coordinator Douglas Jackson. Of that, $12,000 will come from the city.

The mural will be painted by Jack Fralin of Best Bet Arts and Media. His previous work downtown includes refurbishment of the historic Coca-Cola advertisement on the side of 115 Salem Avenue Southeast.

Work is expected to take between 7 and 14 days. Watch for images of progress on Facebook and instagram @artinroanoke.  

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Blue Ridge PBS seeks Southwest veterans present in Beirut bombing or Grenada invasion

Blue Ridge PBS is seeking military veterans who were on active duty in October 1983 and personally involved in the bombing of the United States Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, or the United States invasion of the island of Grenada. 

Of the veterans who express an interest in participating, several will be chosen to be interviewed and share their stories on-camera for a one-hour documentary slated for broadcast later this year. Produced in association with Virginia War Memorial in Richmond and privately funded by the Virginia War Memorial Foundation, “One Week in October” seeks to chronicle the stories of Virginia veterans who were present at either of the two incidents. Family members of anyone killed in action during either campaign are also invited to share their stories. 

Production is well underway and multiple interviews have already been conducted in Richmond that include veterans from the eastern half of the Commonwealth. The search now focuses on veterans from and currently residing in Southwest Virginia and the Blue Ridge PBS viewing area. 

Veterans or family members interested in participating should contact Blue Ridge PBS Executive Producer Lisa Fenderson via email at lfenderson@blueridgepbs.org or voicemail at 540-983-1780 no later than Friday, May 19, at 5 p.m. 

“One Week in October” will premiere on Thursday, October 26, at 8 p.m. on Blue Ridge PBS. 

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Highlander Hotel Radford seeks local business partnerships

The Highlander Hotel Radford is seeking partnership proposals from local businesses that offer products and experiences that could “help connect the hotel’s diverse and celebrated guests to the region’s unique experiences and special offerings,” according to a release from the hotel.

The hotel, which overlooks Radford University’s campus, is calling on local outdoor adventure outfitters, craft food and beverage makers, spas and wellness centers, florists, specialty gift shops, and more. They are asking businesses to offer creative ideas for unique partnerships “that will showcase the region and encourage guests to stay and play longer,” the release said.

“Perhaps your business can offer bike rentals and local trail maps that will pair nicely with a highlander picnic basket, locally made chocolates, flowers, or wine that can be placed in guest rooms for romantic getaway packages, or maybe your spa offers mobile services that can be brought to our guest suites for extra special mother daughter escapes. We want to offer local honey and all kinds of other unexpected surprises, but we expect the best ideas are ones we haven’t even thought of yet,” General Manager Rachel Pegues said in a statement.

Local and small businesses are encouraged to submit a one-page form that describes their product or services, standard pricing, and ideas for potential partnerships. As available, photos are also highly encouraged. In addition to the potential for a new business partnership, all entrants will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win dinner for two and a free night’s stay at the new property. Entries can be made here