New mural of Richmond great Arthur Ashe painted with tennis balls

The artwork at the Battery Park tennis courts is just the latest around the city from Van-Yahres and the Mural Mobb.
Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 4:23 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT)- There’s a new inspiration for future tennis players at Battery Park.

Like a proud father, artist Jake Van Yahres is showing off his latest mural, a tribute to Richmond’s tennis great, Arthur Ashe. The mural was painted using tennis balls.

“It was astonishing cause I was like, I have never thought about painting with tennis balls, and I just think that just so out of the box,” said tennis athlete John Lorish.

The artwork at the Battery Park tennis courts is just the latest around the city from Van-Yahres and the Mural Mobb.

“So the Mural Mobb is a really cool program,” said Van Yahres. “What they do is what they find and select high school kids who are interested in art throughout the city. They also pay them to work with artists. So this was a collaboration with three teenagers.”

Last year Van Yahres and the Mural Mobb also collaborated to do the Michael Jordan mural on the park’s basketball court.

That’s when he got his inspiration for the Arthur Ashe tribute.

“When I actually came up to this wall, you could see ball marks against the wall,” said Van Yahres. “It didn’t take too long to think; what if I can create a whole mural out of tennis balls.”

Jake went to the hardware store, found a few drill handles and removed the heads to make his new tool.

“It’s almost like an ice cream cone or microphone,” said Van Yahres. “That way, it’s really easy to dip and put against the wall. So I made a whole bunch of these. So it was a lot easier.”

Using only tennis balls and paint, Van Yahres and the teens got to work creating the perfect tribute in just one day.

“I hope that people can see one of the pieces and be like, oh, I didn’t know art can be done like that,” said Van Yahres.

The mural was officially unveiled on June 9 and quickly caught the eye of a young tennis player whose coach was trained by Arthur Ashe.

“It feels like it represents the city’s past and what it looks like now, and I really love it,” said Lorish.

“I hope it brings more people here but also make the people that have been here proud to be from here,” said Van Yahres.

Jake and the Mural Mobb plan to unveil another mural in August. Right now, he will only say that it will be sports related and will have no paint nor a wall.