What do you think about the Grateful Dead rock on Belle Isle?

What do you think about the Grateful Dead rock?The Grateful Dead rock at Belle Isle has been in place for many years and has been repainted several times. It is iconic to some people who frequent Belle Isle. Is it art? Is it graffiti? Share your thoughts!


18 responses to “What do you think about the Grateful Dead rock on Belle Isle?

  1. Here’s a pretty outlandish discussion of the subject.

    These people should be caught, prosecuted, and made to clean up the James RIver Park EVERY weekend for a couple of years. If they are college kids, they should be kicked out of college immediately and if they are high schools students, they should not be allowed the chance to attend college. If they are adults they should be sentenced for a couple of decades of cleaning the park

    Graffiti On Everyone’s Property

    • It’s art seriously take a chill pill they shouldn’t have consequences for expressing themselves in a harmless way and to everybody saying its an “eye sore” why don’t you learn what art is. #deadheadforever

  2. Harsh, dude. Have a brownie and kick back a bit.

  3. I love Belle Isle and the park system and I hate HATE graffiti, but love this piece, simply because it has been there in one form or another since I was a kid. It’s from the Steal Your Face album (I think) and it is not that scary if you know what it is. It’s a little RVA sub/alternate culture icon. It is not just some random gang related tag in black spray paint. It has good color and it looks across the river at the city and Hollywood cemetary with its big toothy grin all winter long reminding us that warmer weather and good times are not far off. I’d really miss it if it were removed.

  4. Icouldabeenacontender

    This Grateful Dead rock is a piece of history. Back in the good old days I used sit on that rock and drink beer and smoke – seriously good times. Now I am a boring worker bee and wish I could go back to those days.

  5. Except that it IS graffiti. Graffiti isn’t determined worthy by whether it’s good or bad, or whether someone likes the subject matter. What if the next rock has the Rolling Stones tongue, and the next an AC/DC lightening bolt, and the next the Dylan eye? Why stop at rock and roll? What if it’s a Confederate flag or a Swastika? Graffiti is graffiti.

    The first post that would deny the creator a college degree is over the top. Everyone should go to college and try to get smarter. Anyway, seems more likely that the Dead tag is kept alive by someone well past college-age. It ought to be sandblasted off, and remembered fondly by those who thought it was cool when they were young and selfish.

  6. Yes it’s art and yes it’s graffiti. Should we start allowing or continue to allow graffiti on the island? No.

    I personally like the Grateful Dead artwork but cannot support the decision of allowing it to remain. How many more “pieces of art” would be permitted on the island?

  7. I was angry when I wrote that original post. I don’t regret bringing the subject up originally, but it deserves some context here now. It’s worth noting that I have moved on in subject matter but graffiti is still a huge issue in Richmond that costs the City and residents over a hundred thousand dollars a year. I also got many people who thanked me for bringing the Grateful Dead rock subject up- that they never liked it.


    I also wrote this on that post at that time – in response to some of the anonymous comments I got threatening my property and person (speaking of harsh):

    Again, being kicked out of college and doing public service is actually mild compared to the harshness and cost of a jail sentence. A friend of mine’s son got arrested for graffiti in a Fan alley and was facing a one year mandatory sentence. I was appalled and asked Councilpeople to intervene on his behalf.

    But its time for this City to grow up. We have historic neighborhoods under siege by spoiled vandals. Before it was the park this weekend, it was Hollywood Cemetery, before that it was the ex-Hollywood Grill, before that it was the William Byrd Community House, before that it was neighbors’ houses and sheds. Enough is enough.

    We have a beautiful City park and natural resource that is now protected by a conservation easement. Should we really keep allowing it to be defaced by some stupid hippie relic?

    There are definitely places for partying and creativity, but I have had it with selfish grafitti.

  8. This Grateful Dead rock is not a swastika or confederate flag so there is no comparison. It is not offensive and it has never been an issue until well…now. I have nothing against it – but don’t want it to be an opening for everyone to tag a rock…and so far no other “rocks” for that matter have been tagged.

    I guess if the “powers that be” feel that sandblasting it will curb the issue of graffiti then so be it. I seriously doubt it will. For the most part Graffiti is tame in this town compared to Europe and up north. Back in the day (yes I am one of those people) we skipped school and hung out in the sun in the early spring – it was a time that is sealed in non-political correctness. There weren’t many people who would come to the river back then and we respected the river and it’s beauty. We were called river rats! So, I see it more as a memorial to a time that no longer exists. A time when there weren’t of angry dogmatic river enthusiasts in their glen allen -suburban vehicles coming into “the big city” all in an uproar over a Grateful Dead rock. So I guess use the money and resources to blast it away and hopefully us former young and selfish will one day learn.

  9. I’ve got no problem with this one piece of graffiti, although it is a very slippery slope from one, tastefully done piece of art to a barrage of vandalism that diminishes the quality of the park and requires many resources to clean up…resources that have far better things to do.

    Separate question…if we don’t get enough high water this Spring to wash out the debris piles at Pony Pasture (multiple), Powhite Ledges (by 10 boat hole) and throughout the Lower, how are we going to make it safe for paddling and floating this season? Enjoy the beautiful Spring day…Peace -Matt

    • You could always talk to the JRPS and see if they can work something out with RFD to have a controlled burn of the debris piles.

  10. Admittedly, I’ve never noticed this tag but people take everything so serious, who cares? Seems like several people posting here don’t care, and all the partiers at Belle couldn’t care less I bet. Move along, go clean some trash or build another trail.

  11. The river is beautiful as is. I love graffiti type art. But grafitti has no place on public property. It demonstrates a blatant disregard for others. If you feel the need, “paint” with chalk. It will be gone with the next rainstorm. Everyone need to practice “leave no trace” or better yet pick up a few pieces of someone else’s trash when you visit the river.

  12. How about taking all that time, effort, and mostly money, and put it to use feeding and clothing people that really need it. I bet you could find a whole bunch of those people down on Browns Island. I’ll bet they could care less about a painted rock.

  13. I like the Grateful Dead. But that is graffiti. It covers up God’s art which is far superior.

  14. Pingback: Hills and Heights » Grateful Dead Rock Debate - Richmond, Virginia

  15. stop complaining you all wouldn’t understand the dead rock. it can’t be removed it’s a national landmark as of 2009. if caught trying to remove it you get charged with destruction of goverment property a felony. its not going anywhere get used to it

  16. Actually this painting was done by Union soldiers during the occupation of Richmond. They had the foresight to envision this cool band. It is therefore a part of history and should be left alone, if not protected.

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