As local artist Patty Richards spends an afternoon in her studio in Kilmarnock, VA, she imagines the waves and wildlife splashing up against the white boots of local watermen....the men and women who are the backbone of the region's coastal culture and essential to the Virginia oyster.
With every brush stroke, Richards is working to turn her vision into a work of art as a part of the Watemen’s Way white boots community art project. “I’ve loved the people I’ve met and the sense of collaboration I’ve felt,” she said about the art project, which will highlight spots along the Virginia Oyster Trail.
Richards still has a few deadrise boats to draw onto her completed boots, which stand 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. They will soon be sealed, mounted and permanently sitting at the Steamboat Era Museum. The boots are one of 15 pairs placed at restaurants, art galleries, and favorites spots around the area. An exhibition initiative that opened on July 1, 2017, each pair of boots is personalized by a local artist, drawing from themes that reflect the lives of the people who not only wear the boots, but people who call the area home.
“We want to show appreciation for where our seafood comes from and how these watermen risk themselves to bring it to our tables here and throughout the country,” said Susan Cockrell, Kilmarnock Deputy Town Manager and one of the partners responsible for creating and managing Watermen’s Way.
As you visit, share photos of yourself stepping into the boots, mention the Watermen's Way Facebook page, and tag Virginia Oyster Trail on Instagram and Twitter (@VAOysterTrail). #watermensway #getyourbootson #boots
Our Contributing Writer: Megan Wilson, blogger for Virginia's River Realm