Over the years, Lexington, Kentucky has come to appreciate the value of art placed in our public realm. It has been a coughing, sort of sputtering-to-life kind of affair. We have had successes and failures with projects like: Art-in-Motion, the Lexington Extraordinary Art Project, LexArts’ Outdoor Mural Project, the Legacy Trail Public Art Consortium’s Master Plan, the Manchester Distillery District, Concordia, The Lexington Tattoo Project (which I contend is public art), a sound sculpture, HorseMania, a recent NEA Grant to support EcoArt Project titled LiveStream, and a major commission for mural work on a new Kroger’s store at the heart of our city – to name only a few.
Along the way, we’ve had our disagreements about the suitability of each for this unique place we call home. Those who were working together just to get something moving, occasionally found themselves in disagreement. That means something.
As Arts and the Economy Columnist for Business Lexington under its Founding Editor in Chief, Tom Martin, I frequently covered what was happening in the realm of public art from 2006 to 2012. For some background, here are two links of many on the topic:
Today, as co-publisher for UnderMain – Lexington’s first fully digital publication dedicated the arts and cultural affairs – I now have the opportunity to continue that discussion and do so as respectfully and objectively as possible. Recently an arts organization known as PRHBTN has brought the work of street artists How and Nosm, ROA, Kobra, Phlegm, and MTO into the discussions and into our space via some pretty provocative mural work.
The results have been highly divisive at times and it is my hope that our community understands this as another step in the journey, another feather in our caps as a growing hub for culturally significant work – regardless of individual opinion. It is my hope too that we understand the new things happening have only occurred because each has historic precedent. Artistic expression has been alive and well for many, many years in Lexington, Kentucky – let’s not stifle it now just as we are seeing some maturation.
PRHBTN responds to recent accusations in this interview: