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Silver Hand Meadery to unveil Williamsburg’s first public mural, dedicated to pollinators – Daily Press

WILLIAMSBURG — History and sustainability are showcased in Williamsburg’s first public mural, which is set to be unveiled this weekend.

The mural, which stretches across a large wall outside of Silver Hand Meadery on Monticello Avenue in the Midtown Row area, depicts a vibrant green garden landscape punctuated with an array of flowers native to the area.

The event is scheduled for Saturday at noon and will feature flights and mead tastings from the meadery.

Titled “The Flight of the Honeybee, circa 1622,″ the mural pays homage to both pollinators and pollinator plants.

“This is one of the first areas of this continent where the European honeybee was introduced, which is the honeybee that we think of when we think of honeybees,” said Emma Zahren-Newman, who designed and painted the mural. “It’s larger-than-life flowers because you’re in the perspective of a European honeybee flying around this historic area for the first time, seeing all the great native plants.

“It’s also telling a hopeful story for the future of what a garden could look like. Someone today or tomorrow could go out, get those plants and plant them in your yard and do a great thing for the community. It’s historical … but it’s also kind of a call to action.”

Zahren-Newman, who recently moved to Washington, D.C., for a new job, worked for more than a year to complete the wall, coming in at night to work around her schedule as an art teacher.

As a former co-chair of James City County’s Clean County Commission, Zahren-Newman worked on the Stewardship Hour programming, which endeavored to teach members of the community how to be good stewards of the earth. One of the programs highlighted some local businesses, including Silver Hand Meadery, which began Zahren-Newman’s partnership with the business.

“Knowing that we all shared this passion for pollinators and sustainability, [the mural] sort of went hand-in-hand with the product that they make,” she said. “We thought, ‘Man, we need to share this story, it’s so important. Mead’s great but what we really stand for is such a bigger, more important message.”

To put the mural together, Zahren-Newman first used Photoshop to arrange photographs of the flowers that make up the garden. The goal was to be as accurate as possible while still being fun and bright, she said.

“Knowing that William & Mary is down the road, I didn’t want any plant scientists to say, ‘That’s not what that looks like,’” she said with a laugh.

The mural originally got underway without approval from the Williamsburg Public Art Council, causing Zahren-Newman to have to pause her work while the council considered the application.

“I got to speak to [the council] and give my presentation on what the mural was going to look like and why it was important for our community, and the support after that presentation was very positive,” she said.

Zahren-Newman will make the trip down from Washington, D.C., to attend Saturday’s event, where members of the community will gather to celebrate sustainability as well as the new mural. It’s Zahren-Newman’s hope that the focus on pollinators will help inspire the community to make an effort to support the bees and other insects that are so important for the ecosystem.

“I hope that people will show up and see all the great things that are happening in the area for pollinators,” she said.

Sian Wilkerson, sian.wilkerson@pilotonline.com, 757-342-6616

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