Local Artists Bring Watermen’s Heritage To A Pair of Boots Near You

The Kilmarnock Inn is located just off Main Street in the Town of Kilmarnock. The street is lined with restaurants, antique shops, artist studios and more. The quaint bed and breakfast has a practice putting green, a garden guests can harvest from, a spacious deck for relaxing and eight guest cottages, each named for a Virginia-born president.

The next time you visit, you’ll notice a new addition to the inn’s list of attraction: a pair of boots that stand 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. They’re brightly designed with a patriotic design by local artist, Diana Jamison. Jamison is an active member of the Rappahannock Art League and as a member of the Northern Neck Artisan Trail, her home studio is open to the public by appointment.

Diana is one of 15 artists who participated in the Watermen’s Way white boots community art project. The boots will be one of 15 pairs placed at restaurants, art galleries, and favorite spots around the area beginning July 1. Each pair of boots are 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.

“Our art project marries the creative aspect of local artists along with a local\regional iconic image,” said Susan Cockrell, Kilmarnock Deputy Town Manager and one of the partners responsible for creating and managing Watermen’s Way.

Rubber white boots are worn by watermen throughout the Chesapeake Bay region and by seafood workers across the country as they work the water, harvesting oysters, crabs, and fish from the Bay, rivers, and creeks.

During your next foodie adventure in Virginia’s River Realm, take time to visit the artistic boots. As you visit, share photos of yourself stepping into the boots and mention the Watermen’s Way Facebook page, tag Watermen’s Way on Instagram and use the hashtags #watermensway #getyourbootson and #boots!

Plan your visit to Virginia’s River Realm and see them all:

The idea for the project was inspired by a trip to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD by Barb Brecher, Executive Director of the Steamboat Era Museum. She saw a pair of the boots on display and reached out to Jan Dobrowolski, a local jewelry artist.  Many cities have similar collaborative art projects such as Chicago’s cows, Norfolk’s mermaids and Richmond’s dogs.

“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,” Cockrell said.  

Virginia’s River Realm kicked off the concept in November 2016 with Virginia’s First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe standing in a blank pair of boots, which would become canvases for one of many artists. The fiberglass boots were manufactured this spring and distributed to artists in May. They’ve each had about a month to complete their concepts and have the boots sealed and mounted for display. Larger-than-life fiberglass sculptures of watermen’s white boots will soon be displayed throughout the Northern Neck and Middle Penninsula. Boots will be on display until August 2018.

The funds raised from this public art project will be donated to the Virginia Waterman’s Association, Steamboat Era Museum and Rappahannock Art League.

Follow Watermen’s Way on Facebook and on Instagram  (@virginiasriverrealm) with hashtags #watermensway #boots #getyourbootson #virginiasriverrealm

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