The life-size bronze statue of a man on horseback outside Richmond’s Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has the proud bearing of a classical warrior. But glance closer, and you’ll realize that his puffed-up chest and commanding gaze belongs to a contemporary-looking young Black man with dreadlocked hair and ripped jeans. However, the horse, foreleg raised and tail blowing in unseen wind, seems timeless.
Artist Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors of War was erected in 2019 on the grounds of the 85-year-old arts showplace. Best known for his official portrait of President Barack Obama, Wiley created the work as a response to the capital’s Monument Avenue, which until recently, held five statues of Confederate officers and figures. “The Wiley statue is an outward symbol of what’s happening at the VMFA and in Richmond,” says Valerie Cassel Oliver, the museum’s curator of modern and contemporary art.
Rumors of War is an example of how this small city is getting a rep for a big art scene. Here are seven places to see where and how art is flourishing in Richmond.