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Matt Lively Wants Your Help Making Kids’ Days at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU

Richmond-based artist Matt Lively is getting into full painting mode for the mural project at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. 

Lively, who previously worked with the hospital to bring art to the Children’s Pavilion’s sky lobby and the Virginia Treatment Center for Children, has seen the project evolve since the idea’s inception.

“I wanted to get the kids involved with it,” he says. “I wanted to make it more of a collaborative adventure.”

The mural, which will consist of eight large pillars at the Wonder Tower’s ground-level parking deck, is part of a six-week fundraising and awareness campaign for the new Wonder Tower (set to open in spring 2023) that the Children’s Hospital Foundation kicked off earlier this month. Donors to the campaign will get the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to bring an element of joy and creativity to the tower.

The 16-story tower will be home to CHoR’s Level 1 pediatric trauma center, emergency room, inpatient units, new operating rooms, increased imaging capacity, and family amenities – all in an environment created just for kids and families.

When people arrive at the tower’s parking deck, it is usually because of “unpleasant circumstances,” says Lively. “I want to make that trip into the parking deck more welcoming and sympathetic to their feelings; have it communicate directly to them.”

There are some places that are inherently uncomfortable, he adds. “I wanted to do anything to make it a bit more welcoming.”

How You Can Help!

“I am hoping to be flooded with challenging, silly and out-of-the-box suggestions from kids and families… if you suggest a fox wearing six hats on a unicycle, then that’s what I’ll paint,” says Lively.

Community member are encouraged to visit Leave Your Mark to make a donation of any amount above five dollars. Many families also suggested something forLively to paint on the parking deck pillars. The subjects of the mural will be based on animals and species native to Virginia, a theme the new Wonder Tower has embraced. The final selection of animals for Lively to paint will be determined by patients of CHoR.

Lively wants to keep the drawings of the animals in plain site, limiting what art goes around the back of the pillar.  

So far, Lively has received twenty suggestions for animals. He hopes to work on the murals a few hours each day so people can watch the progress.

Each column will probably feature different variations of one species of animal featuring everything from otters eating ice cream to bears blowing bubbles.

“I am hoping to be flooded with challenging, silly and out-of-the-box suggestions from kids and families all over the region,” Lively says. “If you suggest a fox wearing six hats on a unicycle, then that’s what I’ll paint.”

Lively’s art is known for its accidental whimsy. 

“This is in my wheelhouse to be able to create a viable visual based on suggestions; to have the ability to make it a good and somewhat believable image,” says Lively who has been painting murals for ten years. “I started painting them because it looked like fun. Murals are seen by so many people.”

Fundraising for the campaign is aimed at the entire Richmond community as a way to connect that CHoR is the hospital for all children in the region.

“We know that so many people care about CHoR, and we also know that not everyone can afford to make large donations. This campaign allows everyone to show their love for CHoR, feel invested in the Wonder Tower, and give the gift of comforting art to everyone who comes through our doors,” says Lauren Moore, CEO and president of Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Seeing patients and the entire community contribute to the murals affirms our belief that people feel connected to this special place that’s providing exceptional and compassionate care.”

To make a donation to support the effort, go here.

An award-winning writer based in Richmond, Joan Tupponce is a parent, grandparent, and self-admitted Disney freak. She writes about anything and everything and enjoys meeting inspiring people and telling their stories. Joan’s work has appeared in RFM since the magazine’s first issue in October 2009. Look for original and exclusive online articles about Richmond-area people, places, and ideas at Just Joan: RVA Storyteller.

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