A lifetime of advocacy for the arts was celebrated Saturday morning with the dedication of Leesburg’s newest downtown mural.
Town leaders and art advocates gathered with the friends and family of the late Gale Waldron to unveil a mural displayed on the east wall of the Town Hall parking garage and depicting scenes from the town’s history.
Starting in the late 1980s, Waldron was a leader in establishing Leesburg as an arts center. She established Loudoun Art magazine, founded Gallery 222, and led the Loudoun Academy for the Arts Foundation, among other endeavors during more than two decades.
Her proposal to display a mural on the wall of her gallery—ultimately denied by the town government—laid the groundwork for today’s public arts program in town.
During her illness last year, Waldron planned the garage mural, which was painted by Leesburg artist Penny Hauffe. Waldron died in January.
Waldon’s husband, Gerry, and Hauffe, were joined at Saturday’s dedication ceremony by Mayor Kelly Burk; Commission on Public Art Chairman Tom O’Neil; and Tracy Coffing, the mural project manager.
Coffing, along with Hauffe, Mary Gayle Holden and Dana Thompson, was selected by Waldron to lead the project.
Coffing said she was honored to help Waldron with her final project. “With this gift, Gale continues to be a champion of local art and artists and an advocate of public art and art appreciation,” she said. “She has created a unique legacy which enhances our community, instills a sense of pride and place and will undoubtedly encourage future support and initiatives for public art.”
Hauffe said she shared with Waldron the belief that art can act as an antidote to negative influences in our lives.
“I hope you enjoy viewing it as I enjoyed painting it,” Hauffe said of the mural. “My overwhelming feeling today are gratitude and love—gratitude for to be part of the cohesive team who championed for this artwork and love for Gale and all of you here who support the arts.”
With a map of Leesburg in the center, the mural displays four historic views of Leesburg: a working farmer in front of the Loudoun Street log cabin, early architecture on King Street representing Leesburg’s boom years, a 1020s car in front of the courthouse, and the train depot with a steam engine and a 1940s care parked in front to show the impact of transit on Leesburg.
Gerry Waldron said Gale worked on the project from her hospice bed during the last three months of her life. “I want to thank Gale for another great idea. She had so many of them.”