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Richmond artist was inspired by witches for the 2021 Folk Festival poster design

Artist Mickael Rosedale Broth in a blue tank top holding his Folk Festival poster design while standing in front of a wall with a mural on it
Artist Mickael Rosedale Broth aka The Night Owl holding his poster design for the 2021 Richmond Folk Festival. Photo by Broth's wife Brionna Nomi.

After creating art for nearly a decade, there aren’t many projects Mickael Rosedale Broth, aka The Night Owl, feels honored to be a part of anymore. But, he is truly honored to be a part of one of his most recent projects — designing the 2021 Richmond Folk Festival poster.

“I recognize how amazing this event is for the Richmond community and what an important element the poster is to creating the identity of the festival,” said Broth, who first came to Richmond in 2001 for college.

Broth was always encouraged by his parents to pursue his passion for art, but in 2004, he ended up serving nearly a year in jail for graffiti. He wrote Gated Community: Graffiti and Incarceration, a memoir about his involvement with graffiti vandalism and his 10-month jail sentence.

After his 10-month jail sentence, Broth searched for his place in life, and in 2012 he found his footing. He helped spark the mural explosion in the city, through his own work and helping curate the RVA Street Art Festival. "I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time," said Broth, who wrote the book Murals of Richmond in 2019. Broth created the popular Richmond mural “ Ashen Lady of the James” near the Mayo Bridge downtown.

Similar to a lot of his work, the Folk Festival poster features bright, saturated colors and a witch. Broth loves the witch as a figure in American folk history. For him, the witch is a powerful and unique individual with a deep desire for self-realization. “...the festival organizers have been so fantastic to work with, providing nearly complete artistic freedom and support,” he said.

In the poster, the witch is holding an acoustic guitar, which Broth admits is somewhat predictable. However, it’s not just any random guitar. It’s the guitar he bought during the COVID-19 pandemic to learn how to play, which is something he’s always wanted to do. Plus, an acoustic guitar is the main instrument in folk and folk punk — Broth’s favorite type of music — which is often featured at the Folk Festival.

A few years ago, Broth went to the Folk Festival with his family for the first time. He remembers being around a diverse group of people, listening to music, and learning about artists he never heard about before. Though for Broth, there isn’t a distinct memory that sticks out around the festival. Instead, it's “just an overwhelming feeling of being stoked on life and this place.”

The Richmond Folk Festival is free to attend and takes place Friday, Oct. 8 through Sunday, Oct. 10 on downtown’s historic riverfront.

Throughout the weekend, VPM will air performances on 107.3 FM and 93.1 FM and stream them on VPM Music. For a schedule of performers, click here.