Pier in Norfolk Gets Artistic Makeover

A new mural along the pier at Nauticus in Norfolk celebrates the city’s place on the Intracoastal Waterway and offers a colorful welcome to visitors approaching by foot or boat.

The Friends of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation, in partnership with Nauticus, Norfolk’s maritime science center, commissioned the massive bright magenta and orange mural that extends almost the entire length of the pier. The location is part of the Elizabeth River Trail, an urban waterfront route that meanders more than 10 miles throughout the city. 

The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), a 3,000-mile inland boating route, stretches from the Atlantic coast to the Gulf of Mexico. Mile Marker Zero-or “Zero Point”-marks the end of the first portion of the ICW before boaters continue south, and it sits in the Elizabeth River not far from the Nauticus pier.

Photo: Richard Nickel

To mark Norfolk’s place along the ICW, the Friends of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation reached out to local artist Richard Nickel, who, along with fellow artist Aimee Bruce and others, completed the sprawling piece of public art.

The waterway is affectionately known on navigational charts as the “Magenta Line,” so it’s fitting that Nickel and crew included the color in their creation. 

“It was one of the most beautiful places to paint. We had sailboats visit, dolphins in the river swam by, and tugboats! Amazing place to end the day with a sunset,” Nickel says.

“We also wanted a huge welcome to all the visitors that enter Norfolk. The Nauticus pier is also the dock for the Decker Half Moone Center, (which welcomes) national and international visitors all year round,” adds Nickel. 

Cheryl White, Executive Director of the Friends of the Elizabeth River Project Foundation, says the plan was to give the pier “some life and of course honor the Zero Mile Marker for the waterway, but also for the Elizabeth River Trail, which actually extends north and east.” Echoing Nickel, she says that because the waterfront serves as an introduction to Norfolk for the cruise ships entering the port, the mural would show off the city, the trail, and “how connected we are to our water.” 

“There will be more public art to come” along the Elizabeth River Trail, says White, who envisions a “walking gallery” meant to showcase the waterfront.

Nauticus will host a “Party on the Pier” Thursday to toast the new mural.

 Photo: Richard Nickel
Photo: Richard Nickel

Laura Boycourt