Interview: Nico Cathcart, 34, Artist at the RVA Street Art Festival

"I’ve been painting my whole life, it’s one of those things that I never questioned."

“What’s beautiful about the street art fest is they don’t really limit you. So you can do anything that you are interested in at the time. Right now I’m working with conservation, especially wildlife. My piece has a Kirkland’s warbler in it, which is a bird that has been almost pushed toward extinction because of deforestation. They are beautiful birds and it’s really sad that what we do has affected the way they live. And the flowers surrounding the human skull is Peter’s mountain mallow, which is currently only found on one mountain now because of habitat destruction, It’s in Virginia, near Roanoke. I was interested in putting that all together with that human skull and which will have a clock on it, as a connectivity thing. We are tied to the species around us and vice versa.

“Street Fest is bunch of artists in a very concentrated area, so it’s a little bit of controlled chaos, but it’s been going really well. This is actually my third one and this venue, the Diamond, is my favorite because everything is so close. We get to see each other and talk. I started at the GRTC bus depot. That was a crazy thing because I did the paint off (like they did this year with Connor’s Heroes zebra fish). We had four hours on a 5-by-5-foot wall to just paint. It was the first thing I had ever painted on a wall, so it was terrifying. I won a spot at the festival from that, it was terrifying too because those walls at the GRTC are huge. I was not experienced enough for it, but ever since then it’s been a giant love. This street art festival is what got me painting on walls instead of canvas. Last year I painted the cosmic whale at the Manchester festival. I love my whale. I had been reading a lot of Carl Sagan at the time, which is really geeky, but I really love his blue dot theory where a picture of universe is sent back from the Voyager and the Earth is in there but it’s very small, it’s one a tiny blue dot. And the quote is something like, and I’m paraphrasing here, I might not get it right “Isn’t it incredible that in this one photo, the one tiny dot contains anyone who has ever lived, breathed and died. Anything you know is in this one tiny dot which is like a speck of dust in the wind.” I was thinking about macro and micro with that cosmic-whale painting.

“I’ve been painting my whole life, it’s one of those things that I never questioned. I was drawing on everything when I was a kid. In high school I took all the normal art classes but I went beyond. I had a really great art teacher who really supported me. I then went to college in New York State and got a BFA. I’ve been on a single drive my whole life. I think moving to Richmond has been the best part of it. I found a niche that I fit in. My art got to be bigger and better than it ever was before.

“Today will be a mad race for all the artists and Sunday will be more a relaxed day. There are a bunch of wonderful artists from out of town. I’d like to spend some time with them before they leave. And a wonderful coincidence of this weekend is that Ed Trask’s opening at the [Virginia Museum of Fine Arts] is Sunday evening. So I get to go to that. I am just so excited about this weekend, it’s like Christmas for artists.”


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