SCAN and the Scottsville Farmers Market throw a mural party

By Patrick Healy

On the First of July, a small crowd gathered at the Scottsville Pavilion to dedicate a newly painted mural. Shortly before the 5 p.m. start time, one of those fast-moving summer cloudbursts gave the town a good drenching, then swept off down the river. Then, warm sunshine, and a pleasant summer breeze took over the weather chores (until the sun retired for the night). The Pavilion’s recently improved drainage system performed as advertised, earning its keep. Dignitaries, honorees, and onlookers then hustled the chairs and lectern from beneath the sheltering Pavilion and out onto the parking lot, next to the new mural. This bit of spontaneous can-do-ism served as the perfect punctuation for this mural project. For the mural being dedicated would never have come to be, but for the persistence and creativity of the Scottsville Center for Art and Nature (SCAN), The Discovery School for Girls in Buckingham County, the Town of Scottsville, and one very bright young lady.

“This is a perfect project for us.” says SCAN President Erin Root. Although perfect, it didn’t just fall into her lap. It started out back when Town Administrator Matt Lawless approached Root with an idea for an arts grant. Root was supportive, the Town Council approving, and Lawless successful in securing the grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

The idea was to create works of art to promote environmental stewardship, an almost word-perfect grab from SCAN’s founding charter. Specifically, the grant would fund an entry sign for The Van Clief Nature Center; which it did. But once the installation was in place there was some money left over. Enter Rachael Juhan, who pitched the idea of collaborating with students from The Discovery School on another art project in the town. Juhan was familiar with the school which offers both education and therapy, in a wilderness-like boarding school setting, for students recovering from family related trauma. Root reached out to The Discovery School, and one student jumped at the chance to work with a mentor of Root’s caliber. That student was Tehilla “Tilly” Muller.

“We worked for 10 months on this.” says Root. “Tilly was great. She came in with a very solid idea of what she wanted to do. She could express and develop her ideas, and never got defensive when I made suggestions. She was a joy to work with.”

They went back and forth with sketches before the lay-out, composition, and details were finalized. With the design approved, it was time for the site work to begin. Since painting is all about the preparation, the two women spent some time scrubbing, scraping, and priming the walls of the Pavilion’s subsidiary structure. Finally, it was time to pry open the paint pots and cover the surfaces with Ms. Muller’s charming idea: a work that is both geometric, and whimsical. The final result can stand among any professionally produced mural around.

Ms. Root acted as emcee for the dedication ceremony, handling the introductions and handing out bouquets, both verbal and floral.

In her penultimate act as Scottsville’s Mayor Nancy Gill gave the dedication address. Her theme was of the circles that join communities, their members, and the work they do.

“Years ago, I gave the commencement speech for the graduates at The Discovery School. Now, here I am finishing my term by honoring one of their students who has given us this wonderful gift.” The mayor was particularly pleased with the mural’s subject, honeybees.

“The first thing we did when I came in [as mayor] was to become a Bee City. We were the first in the state to do that.” she said, referring to the Xerces Society’s program for the creation and maintenance of pollinator-friendly habitats.

Warm applause, from her schoolmates and appreciative townies, welcomed Tilly Muller to the lectern. She got right to the point.

“My grandfather was a beekeeper. So that’s what our bond was made of: spending time with the bees, eating the honey.” said Muller. Then, nodding toward the depiction of two hands dividing an over-full section of honeycomb, she said, “That’s the inspiration for the centerpiece.”

Ms. Muller will be attending VCU in the fall, planning to major in philosophy.

According to Debbie Smith, who manages the Farmers Market at the Scottsville Pavilion, people have been delighted with this new piece of public art.

“I’ve had a lot of nice comments about it since it went up,” said Smith.


With its central location in Scottsville, SCAN fosters appreciation for, and proficiency in the performing and fine arts for their friends and neighbors in Fluvanna, Buckingham, and Nelson Counties, as well as those in Scottsville and southern Albemarle County. SCAN offers lessons in dance, banjo, guitar, and other artistic skills to students of all ages and abilities.


The Discovery Schools – one for boys and one for girls – are located near Dillwyn in Buckingham County. Sequestered here in the rolling Piedmont region, these schools assume the tasks common to both educators and therapists: to bring those in their care to the fullness of their being.

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