Wall Art in Lexington 2014: PRHBTN & more

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Sumoflam with the newly designed PRHBTN truck

Lexington again has new art covering some of its formerly barren walls around town as the Street Art promoting organization PRHBTN brought in four new world renown street artists to enhance the growing collection of unique murals that dot the town.

prhbtnThe contributing artists this year included How and Nosm (twin brothers Raoul & Davide Perre  originally from Spain), ROA (from Ghent, Belgium), Andrew Hem (a Cambodian immigrant currently from Los Angeles) and MTO (a French born graffiti artist currently from Berlin). Each of these four artists have very unique styles and techniques as can be seen from their photos in this post.

The enormous "I Am MO" mural in the Lexington Distillery District
The enormous “I Am MO” mural in the Lexington Distillery District

Perhaps the most amazing (and controversial) is the behemoth 75 foot tall by 270 feet wide mural by MTO on the side of the Pepper Distillery Warehouse on Manchester. Titled “My Name is MO,” this piece of Street Art is stunning in its accuracy and complexity.  Though MTO is more well known for painting giant murals of famous celebrities, this particular character is not one. Rather, he created a complex story that explains the creation and it is artistically presented in a video that MTO produced.

http://vimeo.com/111310990

This particular massive mural has been accused of using gang symbolism. The neighboring garden center has complained that they don’t like being stared down at be this monster mural. But, ultimately was painted on private property and went through the appropriate approvals before a drop of paint made its way onto the brick and mortar canvas.

Detail of "I am MO"
Detail of “I am MO”
Detail of "I am MO"
Detail of “I am MO”
Sumoflam visits "I am MO"
Sumoflam visits “I am MO”

In a nutshell, this MTO mural epitomizes what PRHBTN is all about. PRHBTN is short for Prohibition, which is what many graffiti and street artists face. PRHBTN was started by John and Jessica Winters in 2011 to encourage the growth of street art in Lexington. They have invited well-known international artists to town to create new mural works on vacant downtown walls, getting support from private donors, local business and community organizations (including me through Kickstarter). They work with property owners to secure the brick and mortar “canvases.” Their goal to highlight this new genre of art is turning Lexington into a living street art gallery, as more than 25 large murals and a number of minor ones adorn many of the formerly bare walls of the community. Indeed, one of last year’s pieces, “Abraham Lincoln” by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra, has drawn national attention and is a new drawing card for tourism downtown.

Sumoflam at Eduardo Kobra's Lincoln mural in downtown Lexington
Sumoflam at Eduardo Kobra’s Lincoln mural in downtown Lexington

Adding to the collection this year is the huge mural entitled “Moonshine” by Twin brothers How and Nosm. They are known for their black, white, red and pink color schemes as well as their whimsical work. This mural does not disappoint. Painted on the four story side of the LexPark parking structure in Short Street, it is sure to be missed by those driving down the street. But, for those walking to the garage from Mill St., it is difficult to miss. Try as I might, I have not been able to track down the story behind this giant masterpiece of whimsy.

"Moonshine" by HOW and NOSM, on the side of the Short Street LePark garage in downtown Lexington
“Moonshine” by HOW and NOSM, on the side of the Short Street LePark garage in downtown Lexington

Just down Short Street, about three blocks from “Moonshine,” is another new work on the side of a building, this one by Los Angeles artist Andrew Hem. Titled “The Night Watchers,” it is the latest creation by Hem, a 2006 graduate of Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA), and an internationally recognized muralist. Andrew has created public artworks most recently in the Arctic, as well as Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, New York and London and now Lexington.

"The Night Watchers" by Andrew Hem in downtown Lexington
“The Night Watchers” by Andrew Hem in downtown Lexington
Detail of Night Watchers by Andrew Hem
Detail of Night Watchers by Andrew Hem
Detail of Night Watchers by Andrew Hem
Detail of Night Watchers by Andrew Hem

The fourth artist, ROA, was commissioned to do his mural on the side of building just off of North Limestone in his trademark monochromatic style. His dying bison is about three stories tall and is well worth a ponderous peek.

ROA Giant Bison
Giant buffalo (bison) waiting to die, by Street Artist ROA
Sumoflam with ROA's Bison in Lexington
Sumoflam with ROA’s Bison in Lexington

And, while in Lexington, ROA added a second piece in the Lexington Distillery District on the side of an old water tank. This giant bee appears as if it had rolled over and died.

Bee on its back by ROA, located in the Lexington Distillery District
Bee on its back by ROA, located in the Lexington Distillery District

The annual PRHBTN commissions and party typically happen in October. Apparently, another well-known Chicago-based street artist with a defined style, named Left Handed Wave, just happened to sneak into town and left his mark on the front of the same building that 2013 PRHBTN artist Odeith had painted horses on the side of. His iconic style is a signature in and of itself.

Left Handed Wave work on the front door of the old Bazaar on Bryan location
Left Handed Wave work on the front door of the old Bazaar on Bryan location

But PRHBTN was not the only group commissioning work this year. LexPark, in conjunction with the Saul Good Restaurants and a couple of other companies, brought in Appalachian artist Lacy Hale, with her brother Seth, painted a wonderfully colorful Tulip Poplar mural at the stairwell entrance to the LexPark garage near the corner of Main St. and Broadway (118 North Broadway). The Tulip Poplar is the state tree of Kentucky.

"Tulip Poplar" by Lacy Hale, located at LexPark garage entrance near Broadway and Main
“Tulip Poplar” by Lacy Hale, located at LexPark garage entrance near Broadway and Main
Detail of "Tulip Poplar" by Lacy Hale
Detail of “Tulip Poplar” by Lacy Hale

While on my quest to discover more art work in town, I came across two 2013 pieces by Dronex, Inc., a collaborative of artists headed by Myke Dronez, of Lexington, perhaps the most well known street artist from Kentucky. They have two wonderfully whimsical pieces in town (and perhaps more). The first is of a train hauling bourbon barrels and can be found in the Lexington Distillery District by Buster’s. The other is on the side of a building on Lisle Industrial Ave and is called “Stockyard Commons.” Both have the Dronex drones dotting the work.

2013 Lexington Distillery District mural, by Dronex Inc.
2013 Lexington Distillery District mural, by Dronex Inc.
Dronex "Cowboy drone", detail of Lexington Distillery District Mural
Dronex “Cowboy drone”, detail of Lexington Distillery District Mural
Another Dronex drone on the Lexington Distillery District mural
Another Dronex drone on the Lexington Distillery District mural
Stockyard Commons mural by Dronex Inc., located on Lisle Industrial
Stockyard Commons mural by Dronex Inc., located on Lisle Industrial
Dronex drone riding a bull, detail of "Stockyard Commons" mural
Dronex drone riding a bull, detail of “Stockyard Commons” mural

Another fun discovery was just off North Broadway past Loudon Ave., on Washington St., which is home to the BroCoLoco Agency.  They have painted a flock of migratory origami titled “Origami Tsunami” on the side of a building., apparently completed in early July 2014.

Detail of "Origami Tsunami" by BroCoLoco in Lexington
Detail of “Origami Tsunami” by BroCoLoco in Lexington

UPDATED DEC. 1, 2014

Sumoflam at the mural of some strange characters on the side of Progress Market
Sumoflam at the mural of some strange characters on the side of Progress Market

I heard a rumor that there were a couple of murals I missed in my recent whirlwind tour of Lexington.  The one above is at 600 N. Limestone on the side of Progress Market.  No idea who painted it and can’t locate any info.  Here are a couple more pics.

Long View of mural at Progress Market
Long View of mural at Progress Market
Another view of Progress Market mural
Another view of Progress Market mural

Just down the street a couple of blocks is a small shop called Vintage Creations on Lime. The BroCoLoco Agency recently completed the wall art on the side (facing True Alley).  I really like this one!

Mural on Vintage Creations on Lime painted by BroCoLoco in 2014
Mural on Vintage Creations on Lime painted by BroCoLoco in 2014

In fact, on that coolish day in November I actually made a whirlwind trip around Lexington to do a selfie at as many of these as I could find and get to. I managed most of them. I have created a slideshow of my “Selfie Tour” and posted it HERE. You can also see my posts from last year PART I and PART II for more details.

Custom map of locations for all of the murals and street art works in Lexington is below:

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New Wall Art in Lexington, Kentucky – PRHBTN and LexArts




Sumoflam at the new Lincoln Mural (not quite finished) on Veteran's Day 2013
Sumoflam at the new Lincoln Mural (not quite finished) on Veteran’s Day 2013

Sometimes there can be a treasure trove in your own backyard.  In the past few months Lexington, Kentucky has been the recipient of some new and amazing wall art…all fairly large projects, including an amazing HUGE piece on the back of the Kentucky Theatre.  And there will be more on the way — all part of the PRHBTN Project in Lexington. According to it’s Website, “PRHBTN is an annual celebration of art forms that have been criminalized, marginalized, and under-appreciated in the mainstream, featuring an exhibition of these works in a space that complements the raw, powerful nature of the message and the artistry of each piece.”

Lily and the Silly Monkeys by Herakut - Downtown Lexington
Lily and the Silly Monkeys by Herakut – Downtown Lexington

In September 2012 German artists Jasmin Siddiqui and Falk Lehman (jointly known as HERAKUT) came to Lexington on commission to fill their canvas (an entire building) with their unique form of urban art.  This piece, known as “Lily and the Silly Monkeys” took only two days to complete.

Closeup of Lily by HERAKUT in Downtown Lexington
Closeup of Lily by HERAKUT in Downtown Lexington
Closeup of the Little Monkeys by HERAKUT in Downtown Lexington
Closeup of the Little Monkeys by HERAKUT in Downtown Lexington

A few days later they completed another massive painting on the side of another building.  Not sure what this is titled, so I will call it “Where Dreams Come From.”

Where Dreams Come From by HERAKUT in Downtown Lexington, KY
Where Dreams Come From by HERAKUT in Downtown Lexington, KY

For the 2013 version of PRHBTN another world reknowned artist, Eduardo Kobra from Brazil has come in and is currently working on a massive mural of Abraham Lincoln, depicting the iconic Lincoln Memorial in a mesmerizingly colorful depiction that just wows the senses!!

Partial of Lincoln by Eduardo Kobra as seen on November 7 in downtown Lexington
Partial of Lincoln by Eduardo Kobra as seen on November 7 in downtown Lexington

I first saw this partial work above when I was going through downtown last week.  The colors were amazing.  So, I drove by again today to see the progress….

Lincoln by Eduardo Kobra, part of the 2013 PRHBTN Festival in Lexington, Kentucky
Lincoln by Eduardo Kobra, part of the 2013 PRHBTN Festival in Lexington, Kentucky
Completed Painting on November 15, 2013
Completed Painting on November 15, 2013
Detail of Lincoln's Head on the Eduardo Kobra painting in Lexington
Detail of Lincoln’s Head on the Eduardo Kobra painting in Lexington

This piece of art is 60 feet tall and has been contracted to be on this building for at least the next ten years.  This piece was completed on November 12, 2013.

A Tradition of Music from North Limestone
“A Tradition of Music from North Limestone” by Michael Burrell

Another group in Lexington, the LexArts Mural Project has also had a few murals added, including the one on the side of Al’s Bar in Lexington entitled “A Tradition of Music from North Limestone” by Lexington artist Michael Burrell.  Michael also painted “In the Market for Music” for the Southland Farmer’s Market painting shown below:

In the Market for Music by Michael Burrell
A portion of “In the Market for Music” on Lexington’s Southland Drive by Michael Burrell

Another unique downtown mural is “Mind Body Soul” which can be seen along the High Street side of the YMCA building. This was created by Kansas City artist Waseem Touma, who was commissioned to provide something representing the YMCA in Oct. 2008.

"Mind, Body, Soul" by Wasseem Touma
“Mind, Body, Soul” by Wasseem Touma

There are a couple more great murals to be seen on Short Street.  One is fully of whimsy and fun and was the winning entry of the Thomas and King Competition in Lexington in 2005.  Artist Britt Spencer was only 21 at the time he painted this creation.

Lexington fun painted by Britt Spencer in 2005
Lexington fun painted by Britt Spencer in 2005
Detail of Britt Spencer mural
Detail of Britt Spencer mural
Detail of Britt Spencer mural in Lexington
Detail of Britt Spencer mural in Lexington

Just a couple of blocks away is a newer mural on the side of the Hurst Office Supplies building.  This horse theme work, across the street from Thoroughbred Park, was painted by Paducah, Kentucky artist Char Downs.  This mural is about 100 feet in length and fourteen feet tall and was completed in 2011 as part of the LexArts Mural Project.

Char Downs mural on Hurst Office Building in downtown Lexington
Char Downs mural on Hurst Office Building in downtown Lexington
Detail of Char Downs mural
Detail of Char Downs mural

Another artist was commissioned to paint a set of murals at the Whittaker Bank ballpark, home of the Lexington Legends baseball team. Portland artist Esteban Camacho Steffensen painted four different pieces that reflect the history of Lexington baseball as well as the depiction of Lexington culture.

Whittaker Bank Ballpark murals by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Whittaker Bank Ballpark murals by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Lexington Legends by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Lexington Legends by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Horse Racing mural at Whittaker Bank Ballpark by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Horse Racing mural at Whittaker Bank Ballpark by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Tribute to Kentucky Bourbon by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Tribute to Kentucky Bourbon by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Lexington Horse Country by Esteban Camacho Steffensen
Lexington Horse Country by Esteban Camacho Steffensen

Another recent addition as part of the LexArts program was the large mural on the side of East End market on 3rd Street and Race.  Entitled “Know Your History. Then Make History,” this mural was designed to tell the story of the neighborhood it was painted in, even down to featuring some of the neighborhood children on portraits in the mural and inviting them to write their names and aspirations on the blades of grass. The artist, Sundiata Rashid, who actually resides in the East End neighborhood, tried to tie the past and present together while also including significant buildings. Half of the mural is black and white…depicting the past…and the other half is in color and represents the future.

"Know Your History. Then Make History." Mural on Lexington East End by Sundiata Rashid
Know Your History. Then Make History.” Mural on Lexington East End by Sundiata Rashid
Another view of the Rashid Mural on 3rd St.
Another view of the Rashid Mural on 3rd St.
Color side of mural on 3rd St.
Color side of mural on 3rd St.

Around the town there are a few more murals and more are in the planning stages.  This local art always inspires me.  I hope that those that visit Lexington will take time to enjoy these great pieces of art!!

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