RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Jake Van Yahres, one of Richmond’s most prominent artists, recently teamed up with some younger collaborators to make a new mural in Battery Park.

“The idea came about after my Kobe piece,” Yahres said.

In February 2020, Yahres made a temporary mural out of paper at the basketball courts of the Randolph Community Center in honor of Kobe Bryant. In May 2021, he worked with the Community Center to rebuild the mural with waterproof paper to make it more permanent.

The connections he made in that collaboration eventually led to him being contacted for a whole new collaboration with the Mural MOBB (Making Our Buildings Beautiful). The Mural MOBB is a program organized by the City of Richmond Parks and Recreation. The program aims to provide high school students with opportunities to create works of art that go on buildings around the city.

Mural MOBB’s first project was designing welcome signs in preparation for Mayor Levar Stoney’s visit to the Randolph Community Center. Yahres was tapped by the City of Richmond Parks and Recreation to head the next project and teens were selected to take part.

(Courtesy of JVY Creations)

Yahres looked at a number of different locations for the mural and eventually settled on Battery park. He wanted an area with high visibility so he chose the basketball courts.

“You come down the hill to enter Battery Park,” he said. “So you’re looking at [the courts] from a birdseye view. I had the idea of using the center circle as a ball and from there, I guess the concept took flight.”

(Courtesy of JVY Creations)

The mural concept evolved into an overhead action shot of Michael Jordan gliding toward the hoop in his iconic outstretched dunk position.

“Everybody knows Michael Jordan,” Yahres said. “He was my hero before Kobe.”

(Courtesy of JVY Creations)

Yahres and his sister outlined the mural beforehand and simplified it to a paint-by-numbers style design. Then the Mural MOBB was brought in and the painting began.

“It was like 90-something degrees but the kids were great,” Yahres said. “The whole project worked together so seamlessly. It was perfect.”

(Courtesy of JVY Creations)

The project was finished in about a day and a half, beginning on Wednesday and finishing early in the afternoon on Thursday. The City of Richmond Parks and Recreation also paid the students for their work.

“It was a super collaborative process,” Yahres said. “Great people behind it for sure.”

(Courtesy of JVY Creations)