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Virginia Beach Area Features

Art Around Virginia Beach

In Virginia Beach, art is on display in both expected and unexpected places—and many of the pieces are truly impressive in their originality, purpose, and design. As you visit the city, take time to explore some of the places that are home to inspired artworks.

MoCA

The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) is just a few blocks away from the oceanfront and features displays of art from around the world, including exhibits from local and regional artists. Inside this state-of-the-art building, practically every medium including paint, glass, sculpture, photography, and other visual arts are represented. For a small admission fee, visitors are welcome to spend the day browsing the galleries and exploring exhibits of works by contemporary artists. In addition to the displays, the museum hosts art classes, fun events, and even workshops geared towards children and families. Learn how to create a magnificent piece by professionals who can take you through the steps.

The Boardwalk Art Show

One of the most popular events in Virginia Beach is coming to the Boardwalk for its 63rd year. Beginning at 17th Street, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art’s Boardwalk Art Show stretches north for over 15 city blocks. For four days in June, visitors and locals flock by the thousands to the oceanfront to browse booths of art for sale, meet the artists, and see which pieces are awarded the show’s coveted prizes. The Boardwalk Art Show has received national acclaim. In fact, Sunshine Artist Magazine (the leading publication for arts and crafts promoters and patrons) ranked it as the 3rd best outdoor art show in the country. If you’re in town this summer from June 14-17, be sure to attend this free and amazing event.

ViBe Creative District

For locally created art and goods that you can take home with you, head to the ViBe district. Located between 17th and 22nd Streets, just west of the oceanfront (between Pacific Ave. and Parks Ave.), this is the place where cultural art is on display. Here, you’ll find local restaurants with incredibly creative menus, a distillery with unique concoctions, boutique stores with handcrafted wares and art, and much more. It truly is a central location to explore distinctive merchandise, cuisine and even coffee from Virginia Beach. Each vendor’s craft contributes to Virginia Beach’s community and culture. Throughout the year, look for ongoing events such as the Old Beach Farmers Market where merchants line the streets selling food, flowers, home décor and so much more.

Neptune

Over the years, many pieces of art have been carved in Neptune’s likeness, however, none compare in mass to the Neptune statue in Virginia Beach. At a total of 34 feet high (the extra height comes from the trident he carries), it is believed that Virginia Beach possesses the largest statue of Neptune in the world.

In 2003, sculptors from around the world competed to win the contract to design a new statue of Neptune for display on Virginia Beach’s oceanfront. When the sculpture committee realized that no one from Virginia had submitted an entry, Paul DiPasquale from Richmond was invited to submit a design. His was the only submission that portrayed a 15-foot-high Neptune on top of a 12-foot base.  Through trials and tribulations, this design ultimately became a reality.

On September 30, 2005, the Neptune statue was finally unveiled to the public during the Neptune Festival, then in its 32nd year. Now, Neptune maintains vigil over the Virginia Beach Boardwalk at 31st Street, welcoming visitors and protecting the sea behind him, his kingdom. His dominating presence reminds us all that the earth’s water is to be cherished and respected. Yet, his stare communicates, as the artist intended, his displeasure with our lack of environmental concern for one of our most precious resources—the ocean. Visit this impressive depiction of the Roman god and take a picture with him for a perfect memento of your Virginia Beach vacation.

Find out more about the creation of the iconic Neptune statue.

Dolphin Statues

Norfolk has its mermaids and the Outer Banks has its horses. Cindy Graf of Virginia Beach was hired to bring those mascots to those areas. Graf then pitched her concept of doing something  similar to Virginia Beach city officials and soon  fancifully decorated dolphins were being installed at businesses, homes, and government properties in the area. She started the non-profit organization, A Dolphin’s Promise, to raise funds to bring the  statues to the area and then have them designed and installed. Anyone who wanted to purchase a  dolphin would pay the non-profit and then the  proceeds would be given to LIVESTRONG in honor of Graf’s mother. These dolphins have helped raise over $400,000 for the fight against cancer. Each one is uniquely designed, a work of art, and helps to save lives.

Commemorative Statues, Plaques and Displays

In July of 2017, the oceanfront’s most recent commemorative memorial—“The Naked Warrior” was unveiled. Paying homage to the U.S. Navy SEALs, this bronze statue of a WWII Navy combat swimmer was a labor of love. Dressed in swim trunks and donning a SCUBA mask, this “frogman” stands on a 3-ton pedestal. Around him is an arched wall made of black granite. Plaques remembering major Navy SEAL battles and samples of sand from beaches around the world where U.S. SEALs have fought and died, are presented on the granite. The Naked Warrior stands to remind us to reflect on those who serve to protect the American way of life, democracy and freedom.

In addition to the Naked Warrior, many other statues, plaques and commemorative areas adorn the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. At 25th Street and the boardwalk, the Navy’s local history is depicted with statues of pilots and sailors at the Naval Aviation Monument Park. The police force is honored nearby on 35th Street with the Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Officers Memorial—a touching tribute to those in blue who serve on the streets of the city. Additionally, the Norwegian Lady (also at 25th St.) can be seen looking out across the ocean to her sister statue in the city of Moss, Norway. The carved figurehead of the Norwegian vessel, Dictator was found on the local beaches after a gale-force wind in 1891 sunk the vessel. The carving was placed at the oceanfront, pointing towards Norway, to remember the lives both lost and saved in the waters off the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Though the original masthead has been replaced with a permanent sculpture, the story of that tragic shipwreck and the brave men of the nearby U.S. Life-Saving Station who aided distressed sailors is memorialized at this monument.

Murals

Driving around town, you’ll notice a couple of buildings with some really cool and touching murals on their sides. Some were completed to honor those that serve. T.A.L.ENT Murals designed one on 21st Street, featuring a sad German shepherd keeping vigil over a policeman’s hand and badge. Nearby, a local building has a Dalmatian in mourning sitting among firemen’s gear. Whimsical murals can be spotted around town as well. At Abbey Road restaurant, see a mural of the Beatles on their iconic walk on Abbey Road. The ViBe district and Town Center have also been commissioning murals for more and more buildings in their areas. Could there be a better way to make a boring wall beautiful?

Wherever you venture in Virginia Beach, you’ll see art that represents the people of the community—military, local shopkeepers, artists, and craftsmen. Take a moment to appreciate the work and dedication involved in creating the masterpieces before you.

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