Saturday, November 26, 2022

‘United We Stand’: Mural in Yorktown pays tribute to local first responders and military personnel

The mural at the Battery Outlet off George Washington Memorial Highway was Paula Dooley's first public mural. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office)
The mural at the Battery Outlet off George Washington Memorial Highway was Paula Dooley’s first public mural. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office)

Drivers along the George Washington Memorial Highway have a new piece of artwork to view on the side of the Battery Outlet in Yorktown.

The mural depicts the American flag with portraits of local first responders and military personnel. Along the top of the mural are the words “United We Stand.”

It was painted by local artist Paula Dooley, who retired from the Air Force in 2010 and started painting about four years ago. The Battery Outlet mural was her first go at mural painting.

“When I designed the mural, I looked at the wall from 50 feet back, when I should have looked from the road because some of the figures are really small, but that’s what you learn.” Dooley said.

Dooley said she drove by the outlet everyday and noticed the side of the building had a blank wall facing the highway. She reached out to Rick Uyhelyi, store manager of the Battery Outlet, and offered to paint a mural for free.

“I just love painting. I don’t know what it is. It’s just therapeutic,” Dooley said. “I think everyone should mix a little paint.”

She and Marko Charalambous, owner of the Battery Outlet, collaborated on what the mural should be. Charalambous said he wanted to pay tribute to local first responders since most of the outlet’s business is from military branches including the Navy and Air Force.

“I think the people are responding nicely to it since it’s a positive message,” Charamlambous said.

The Battery Outlet provided Dooley with the paint and scaffolding. Dooley started working on the mural in May and it took her about a month to finish it. She said she would get up early to work on the mural before the weather became too hot outside.

When the mural was near completion, Dooley said she wanted to add a message to it. It was Charalambous’s idea to add “United We Stand” to the mural.

“Whether you’re Republican, Democratic, Black or white, this country is one. United, we’re going to make it. If we’re not united, then we’re just going to fall apart,” Charalambous said.

Uyhelyi said since the mural’s completion he has noticed a lot of people stopping by to look at it.

Dooley plans on doing another mural at a retirement community for a friend. She said the park service also contacted her about painting a mural at the Crawford Road bridge.

“I think we need more murals,” she said. “Especially right now. We need art. We need art that everyone can appreciate.”

Dooley’s artwork can be viewed at the On the Hill Gallery, Gloucester Arts On Main, the Charles H. Taylor Visual Arts Center, and the Halls of Art exhibit at the Hampton Roads Convention Center.

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