ALEXANDRIA, VA–The air was crisp, but the atmosphere on King Street today was warm and sweet, like a winter wine, which would have been perfect to toast the city’s latest artistic reveal.
You may have seen the KiSMET Mural on the corner of King and Fayette streets, outside Carol Supplee’s store, Imagine Artwear. Artist Len Garon began painting the mural in October 2019, and today it was finalized with his signature and a ribbon cutting.
The mural’s theme is Love Is All You Need, a Beatle’s reference that truly embodies so much of the community in Alexandria. “The mural adds to the public art, kindness, and community love here,” notes Former-Mayor Allison Silberberg.
In times like these, art serves as a reminder that beauty is still possible, and if we put love into everything we do, everything around us, and everyone around us, love is truly all we need to make life meaningful.
The ribbon cutting ceremony took place at 11am on a brisk, yet fresh morning. Prominent members of the city council, past and present, along with onlookers, photographers, and friends gathered around to hear Carol Supplee, proprietor of the mural and owner of Imagine, Former-Mayor Silberberg, Nina Tisara, a former president of KiSMET, and Len Garon, the mural’s artist, speak of the mural’s year long journey.
“I have to say it was serendipity when it started,” explains Carol of her idea for the mural. “I wanted to honor my fellow business people. I had a blank wall and an idea.”
With her blank wall and her idea, Carol reached out to Len Garon, a local artist who had completed another fantastic and large-scale mural: the Alexandria Timeline, on South Pickett and Van Dorn streets, which is 100 yards long–the size of a football field!
Coral knew Len was the perfect artist to bring her vision to life.
The KiSMET Mural spans the entire side wall of Carol’s store along Fayette Street. When you walk down King street, the dazzling blue color and impressive likenesses of iconic local individuals steal your attention.
From left to right, the mural features:
Hobbes, Carol’s dog and Chief Marketing Officer and Sales Associate for Imagine, flying an airplane, pulling the theme banner: Love Is All You Need.
Carol standing with Peggy Amsterdam, of The American Freedom Train Foundation, on a trip to China in 1988.
Nina Tisara, former KiSMET President, and Carol’s father, Red Supplee, Former President of the Chamber of Commerce and “Man of the Year” in 1986.
A photo of Joe Egerton, of Arts Afire Glass Gallery, in front of the Tiffany Tavern. Joe was a key player in improving the retail scene on King Street.
The annual First Night fireworks at the Masonic Memorial—we will be sad to miss them in person this year, but the mural symbolizes their significance.
David Martin and the Old Town street signs he championed along each block—he earned a Living Legend award in 2013 for this addition.
A canopy of flowers representing King Street Garden Park, constructed by the City of Alexandria (following a national call for design entries), and the annual Supper Under The Stars event. KiSMET helped raised significant funds for the construction of the King Street Garden Park.
Ann Hopkins, who became a Supreme Court case of her own in 1984, in front of the Supreme Court. Due to her impassioned, successful efforts in the 80s, she rightfully took her place representing the recent social protests this past summer.
The horse-in-the-truck statue outside the Hard Times Café, for the owners Jim and Fred Parker.
These images represent key moments for Alexandria, its people, and its businesses.
Bookending the mural are Len’s start and finish date signatures: October 2019-October 2020.
Taking a year to completely paint, the mural has been highly anticipated by all Alexandria businesses and citizens. With the cutting of the ribbon, Carol’s idea is officially brought to life, and some of Alexandria’s legends and their actions are recorded for posterity.
In 1992, Carol opened Imagine. “Almost on day one,” says Carol, “in walked Nina Tisara, who introduced me to KiSMET.” KiSMET, the King Street Metro Enterprise Team, is a community development group, which, at the time, was focusing on developing the area of upper King Street.
“KiSMET means destiny or fate and this was mine as it turned out 28 years later,” says Carol.
When Carol joined KiSMET, she witnessed an influx of community spirit and business enterprise. Alexandria is a town rooted in small businesses and Alexandrians exude support for them. Carol and others shared the vision of beautifying not only King Street, but all of Alexandria.
Former-Mayor Silberberg praises Carol for her efforts, stating, “Carol is a helper, she is a doer… a real enthusiastic person. She has helped create community across the board for decades…and helped the business community become what it is.
“But it doesn’t just happen overnight and it doesn’t just happen without a vision and a dedication that goes on for years. So we have to keep that momentum going.
“What would we be without individual storefronts like Imagine Artwear? Our city is so blessed. People come from far and wide to shop in our storefronts because we have unique stores. We want to continue to protect and support these individual stores.”
Just like Nina, many other business people in Alexandria knocked on Carol’s door, many of whom are pictured in the mural. Their joint efforts are engrained in the history of Alexandria and its growth. If you look around, you can not only feel, but physically see what some of these individuals have done for the development of Alexandria.
Nina expresses, “Imagine is a gallery dedicated to displaying talents like an arts fair all year long. In 2018, Carol got an idea to use her wall to immortalize some people who made this part of town special.”
To honor those individuals and their efforts, Carol presents: The KiSMET Mural.