With Pharrell Williams’ help, birdhouse art display takes flight in Virginia Beach

Emilee Geist

Though music icon Pharrell Williams pulled the plug on the Something in the Water festival amid the coronavirus pandemic, he worked behind the scenes to inspire Hampton Roads youth through one of his nonprofit organizations. An art installation, featuring hundreds of birdhouses painted by children, that was going to be […]

Though music icon Pharrell Williams pulled the plug on the Something in the Water festival amid the coronavirus pandemic, he worked behind the scenes to inspire Hampton Roads youth through one of his nonprofit organizations.

An art installation, featuring hundreds of birdhouses painted by children, that was going to be part of the festival came to light this week in the ViBe Creative District.

Affixed to a yellow archway in a grassy lot at the corner of 19th Street and Parks Avenue at the Oceanfront, the tiny, colorful birdhouses are jazzed up with positive messages.

“Always try and never give up.”

“Dream it, wish it, do it.”

“Be awesome dude.”

Pharrell’s nonprofit, From One Hand to Another, teamed up with the ViBe and the Museum of Contemporary Art to facilitate the birdhouse project at children’s summer camps in 2019.

Boys and girls ranging in age from 7 to 17 painted images including flowers, rainbows and hearts on the front and back of the birdhouses. Some of them covered the roofs with polka dots, stripes or splatter.

The birdhouses sat in storage until last weekend when a team of volunteers attached them to wooden posts on city property near the east end of the convention center.

Architect Jeremy Maloney of Altruistic Design envisioned the archway as a “thoughtful place” where visitors experience the art through a processional and are encouraged to take a stroll under the series of seven angled arches, which end under the canopy of a large tree.

“As you walk through it, it lifts up, and it shifts,” Maloney said. “You start to feel a space that has been formed.”

Spacemakers Construction built the arches. Artist Nikki Leone, owner of design company Poplar & Pine Studio, came up with the idea to arrange the birdhouses in spiraling clusters from low to high.

“We didn’t just slap the birdhouses on the structure,” Leone said. “We had to figure out a way to attach them so that it’s interesting.”

Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, [email protected]

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