RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Until Ed Trask painted a beauty queen on the side of the Sidewalk Cafe 30 years ago, he was an outlaw.

City officials would go to great lengths to destroy his artwork.

“I had at least four or five murals taken down because city zoning would come in and say you don’t have enough room for a sign,” Trask said.

Some would argue that his commissioned work at Sidewalk Cafe legitimized the mural in Richmond and began a trend that has carried over to this day.

Before long, artists from all over the world contributed to the collective creative vision.

Artists often focused on neighborhoods in need of repair and revitalization.

“It’s a beacon call!” Trask said. “This building should be a coffee shop or this building should be something else.”

There are now more than a hundred murals in the city. The RVA Street Art Festival and the Richmond Mural Project contribute new pieces of art every year.

For Trask, their popularity is no fad.

“I think it’s more indicative of a cultural renaissance that’s happening in Richmond.”

The artistic flights of fancy force us to take a hard look at ourselves. To ask how our city is evolving.

Trask sees more than brick and block and paint in the city’s murals.

“Culturally, these murals are just a lovely timekeeper, a record of where we were at this time,” Trask said.

Perhaps that’s why they’ve become so popular.This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.Never miss another Facebook post from 8NewsFind 8News on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to