We have NEWS!!!

BRAA wins
AARP Community Challenge Grant
for Blacksburg mural project in collaboration with AARP Blacksburg

Mural Wall.jpg

A new mural will be showing up in downtown Blacksburg in fall 2022.    


The Blacksburg Regional Art Association (BRAA), established 1950, has been awarded a grant from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Community Challenge Grant to create a public mural at the corner of Draper Road and College Avenue. The grant was pursued as a collaborative effort with the local AARP Blacksburg Chapter #2613.

Work begins in August with panels prepared in a private studio and, when finished, attached to an outside brick wall of Gillie’s Restaurant on the Draper Road side. 

Linda Correll, public art chairman for BRAA, worked with Leslie Pendleton, president of the local AARP Blacksburg chapter to submit the grant. The stakeholders and those providing information and approval to bring this project to reality in the downtown location were The Lester Group (the building owner), The Public Arts Committee and the Historic or Design Review board of the Town of Blacksburg.


This award is part of the AARP Community Challenge Grant program. In its sixth year, AARP is announcing the largest number of Community Challenge grants to date, investing more than $3.4 million among 260 grantees across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to an AARP release, the project will demonstrate changes and help build momentum to improve livability for residents of all ages, backgrounds and abilities in Blacksburg and other awarded communities.

Correll believes the project approved for Blacksburg will add to the already vibrant public spaces to be found in the downtown area adjacent to the Virginia Tech campus and Draper Road.  She says the mural is in a prominent location to coincide with upcoming streetscape plans for Draper Road and College Avenue and hopes it will inspire an Art Alley concept in conjunction with the streetscape plans.

The BRAA outdoor mural entry was designed by BRAA member artist Nikki Pynn of Radford, well known for her public art contributions in the region. This as yet unreleased design gives a nod to the location upon which it will be placed at the corner of Draper Road and College Avenue, the underground Strouble’s Creek that runs in the area and the beautiful greenery and wildlife of the greater location.


Correll became involved in this project on a rather short notice.  “We had to act fast once the grant project was presented to us,” recalled Correll. “I conferred with several members of the executive board of BRAA who liked the idea. Because of the fast-approaching deadline we immediately reached out to our well-known local mural artist, Nikki Pynn, who immediately said yes and came up with a design. Once The Lester Group (owner of many Blacksburg properties) provided us with a perfect location, we made the submission.”


Notification of selection for the AARP Community Challenge Grant was made to BRAA and the Town of Blacksburg in mid-May.  National AARP publicly announced the 260 winners to share in the $3.4 million grant on June 29.


BRAA President, Charlotte Chan, states that she and the association members are excited about this project. “The grant money will provide all the supplies needed and pay for the artist’s labor and design. We are happy to have the art in such a public location and to support a local artist whose art already adorns an electrical box near the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market about two blocks away from the location of this new mural. The corner of Draper and College is a very busy car and pedestrian location with high visibility. Our goal as a 70-year-old art association is to promote and encourage creativity in all levels of our town and beyond and we believe this project will do just that! We thank the supportive folks in town and in the local AARP Blacksburg chapter for giving us the chance to take on this project.”