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Hamilton Glass, 37 

Muralist

click to enlarge hamilton_glass.jpg

Scott Elmquist

Growing up in Philadelphia, the world's unofficial mural capital, Hamilton Glass says he was always aware of the power of paint. When he landed in Richmond in 2007, he could see potential canvases everywhere. It would be several more years, though, before Richmond's mural fever took off.

Meanwhile, Glass was patiently pursuing architecture, a field he had studied at Hampton University. Structural hints and sharp lines became signature features of his murals. He began producing these full-time in 2012, right on target for the local mural boom. He ignored the critics who said murals would invite graffiti, arguing that the opposite was true. To date, Glass has completed projects with Altria, Capital One, public schools and small nonprofits.
"I have a passion for using art to spark creativity and get people out," says Glass, who's currently completing a piece with apprentices on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge.

Glass is no stranger to Richmond's youngest painters, either. When he creates pieces for public schools, he makes sure to stop by the art room. "You learn a lot when you work with young kids," he says. "When I was their age, there was never an example of a working artist around."

The vivid colors Glass uses are hard to forget. You may have seen his other community-based projects, like the Arthur Ashe tunnel in Battery Park. With 100 murals in the area, indoors and out, Glass is practically everywhere these days. In fact, he's on display in the same place he'll be receiving this Top 40 award. "Fresh Paint" at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture shows how Glass and others are using murals to explore Richmond's past, present and future.

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