Muralist mixes with colorful Richmond characters


Despite many distractions at the colorful intersection of Macdonald Avenue and Harbour Way, Richmond artist Richard Muro Salazar has managed to make progress on a massive mural.

Salazar began painting the mural on the southwest corner of the downtown intersection on March 10. He expects the piece, which is funded through a $3,000 city grant meant to beautify the area, to be completed in about a month.

A week into the project, however, Salazar said he has been delayed several times by locals who simply want to chat. He described those interactions as highlights, not distractions, and inspirational. His most memorable experience so far was a deep discussion he had with a Mexican man named Jorge.

“He saw a doorway in the middle of my design and said it reminded him of a doorway to the afterlife,” Salazar said. “So he got all deep into reincarnation. We had this whole deep conversation. That was probably my best memory so far.”

Another man who passed by claimed to be the “best musician from Richmond.”

“He said he played with James Brown, was his drummer and he showed me pictures of him playing the sax and piano,” said Salazar, who couldn’t recall the musician’s name. “That was pretty cool too.”

Salazar has also had regular visits from high school kids who have followed his work in recent years. Salazar has painted murals along Richmond Greenway and also in Mexico City, Nicaragua, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Some folks who have walked by have offered to help paint. Salazar accepts help even from non-artists, as he wants the piece that’s designed to benefit the community to be community-driven.

Among those who stopped to help were three girls Salazar said he’d never met. Salazar put them to work right away.

“They were just walking by and wanting to paint,” he said. “I had them working on both sides of the wall. It was pretty cool.”

The mural will highlight the principles of Alive & Free Richmond, an organization promoting ways to reduce youth violence, and is one of 11 art projects to receive Neighborhood Public Art mini-grants this year.