Once again the great team at PRHBTN and all of its supporters have brought 4 great artists into Lexington to add 4 more lovely wall murals around Lexington. These artists from New York, Italy and Portugal all visited Lexington and left with their art work colorizing more of town. (See updated map of all murals in Lexington embedded below)
The first week of November I made my rounds to grab shots of these murals. I have done similar posts in the past ( see 20142013a2013b ) and this is the 2015 version.
Unlike the art the past couple of years, we actually have a piece that is probably closer to conventional wall art rather than the street art influences, especially in Portuguese artist ODIETH‘s marvelous Louis Armstrong mural that sits alongside the Lighthouse Ministries Church on Elm Tree Lane across from the Lyric Theatre.
Head to downtown Lexington and the Victorian Square Parking Garage on Main and Broadway and there is now a third mural decorating the walls. This time it is on the wall facing Main Street and the mural can be seen from the corner of Main and Broadway. This mural was for the Audubon Society and is of a wild turkey. The art was done by Italian mural artist hiTNES.
The most unusual of all of the paintings comes from New York artists Sheryo and the Yok. I am not sure what this one is all about, but I am thinking there is some basketball involved. It is located on the side of the Oneness Boutique on Jersey St., near the corner with Maxwell.
And finally, the most retro and perhaps most colorful of all the paintings was the one done by Portuguese street artist MrDHEO. This three section mural titled “What Goes Around Comes Around” on the side of Chase Brewing on Third Street and Jefferson is classy and intricate.
I really enjoyed looking at all of the detail that went into this. And to think it was all done with spray paint is amazing to me.
Here are a few shots of this one.
Another tradition that seems to be associated with each annual PRHBTN gathering is the unscheduled and probably unplanned smaller pieces of art that find there way into the Lexington Distillery District, especially by the area where Ethereal Brewing is located on Manchester Dr. in Lexington. This year some large cement cubes appeared and art has been added to them. Among the artists that I could actually track down, one was Louisville’s Brrr. Brrr is known for his popular bug-eyed character which you can see below. A visit to Louisville will likely have an appearance of Brrr’s art show up.
Of course, besides the PRHBTN group’s great work, there has been other lovely and unique wall art popping up in Lexington since my last post in 2014. Three really nice works that I have come across include the following:
I tried to research the artist for this outstanding sunface, but I may have to call Mellow Mushroom to find out.
The front of Mellow Mushroom also includes some Native American art in the form of Kokopelli as seen on old petroglyphs in Arizona and New Mexico. As a former tour guide on the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations and an enthusiast of the old Native American cultures of the Sinagua and the Anasazi, I immediately recognized Kokopelli,
In another part of town, along Southland Drive, there is a Tattoo Shop called Horseshoe Tattoo which has a large mural on its side wall. Done in the tradition of street art, it is both colorful and indicative of tattoo stylings. I think it has been around for a couple of years, but I had only really noticed it in the past year. So, I am including it in this year’s version of Lexington’s Wall art.
NO LONGER WITH US…..
Then there is the sad news of two lovely works that are no longer around. The first is the Distillery District wall, which was done in 2013 by Lexington Street Artists Dronex, Inc. I noticed that this wall had been torn down to expand the parking lot. (You can see my write up about this one ON THIS BLOG POST from 2014).
A second lovely mural was painted over by new owners of the old Hurst Office Building at the end of Short Street in Lexington. I read that there was some controversy over this one. It is sad that someone would just paint over a wall that was painstakingly painted. You can see more about this one on THIS BLOG POST.
Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn have all sang about it. And now, Sumoflam has driven it. US Highway 61 cuts down the middle of Mississippi, all the way from Memphis to Natchez and more.
Highway 61 is better known as “The Blues Highway” as many of the famed Blues musicians grew up along this swath of the state just east of the Mississippi River.
In July 2014 I had the opportunity to travel this famed highway from North to South, visit many of the small towns and learn more about Blues History. It was an amazing drive through rural Mississippi!
The highway, Route 61, actually extends 1407 miles north to south all the way from Wyoming, Minnesota to New Orleans. The highway generally follows the course of the Mississippi River, and is designated the Great River Road for much of its route. This route goes through St. Louis, Hannibal, MO, Davenport, IA, Memphis, Vicksburg and eventually to New Orleans. It’s “Blues Highway” designation really begins at the Mississippi/Tennessee in border in Memphis.
As you leave Memphis and cross into Mississippi on US 61, you are greeted immediately be a big Muffler Man statue and then the Blues Highway sign (as seen above) is in the same location. The Blues Highway has become so popular that it even has its own website and they have developed a Blues Trail app (or for Android) for travelers too.
My first stop, however, was at the “Gateway to the Blues” Visitors Center just north of Tunica on old US 61. The Visitors Center is built in a rustic train depot, circa 1895. It is filled with guitars, maps, souvenirs, etc.
Tunica is a big resort town along the Mississippi River, dotted with casinos, hotels and other resorts. But, there is still some good old history. On Magnolia Street near downtown Tunica is the “Tate Log House” which the locals claim has the distinction of being the “oldest and most traveled structure” in Tunica County.
The cabin was built in the 1840s near Robinsonville, Miss., and later purchased by Samuel Kerr in the 1860s. When Robert F. and Simpson Tate purchased the land in 1890, the cabin was converted to a plantation commissary. In 1952, the Tate family sold the land to the another family and the cabin was moved south to Elsie, Miss., and then later to a place near Austin, Miss., in the early 1990s. Finally, in 2000, the house was donated to the Tunica Museum and moved again to its current location in Tunica.
The Tate Log House in Tunica, MS
The drive along this stretch of US 61 is flat as can be as it shadows the giant Mississippi River not too far to the west…
I could have stopped at some of the real small towns along the way, but it was getting later in the afternoon and I wanted to get to Vicksburg before dark, so I kept pushing on…into Clarksdale, Mississippi, which probably has one of the most renown Blues Highway markers and monuments.
Known as “The Crossroads”, where US 49 and US 61 meet, it is believed to be the legendary crossroads where famed blues guitarist Robert Johnson made his pact with the devil. Robert Johnson was born in 1911 and only lived until 1938. He was a dirt-poor, African-American who would grow up, learn to sing and play the blues, and went on to become known the world over. Since his death, his music has been picked up by some of the most well know rock stars of the 60s, 70s and on, including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers – have recorded his songs. In fact, Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” Someone has made a video with his famed “Cross Roads Blues.”
And of course, Eric Clapton has made this song immortal with a number of versions of this song. In this video he pays homage to Johnson.
So, a visit to the Crossroads is a must on this trip. I went down to the Crossroads!!
Some say that new evidence suggests this is NOT the Crossroads where the famous pact was made. I guess I should have made a visit down to Rosedale, but I didn’t have my rider by my side….
Not far from the Greyhound Station is the “New Roxy” Theatre in the Historic New World District on Issaquena Road in Clarksdale. This old movie theater has been converted into a live event venue, with some very unique characteristics. What remains of the old theater is basically is a shell of the former theater with a sloping concrete floor, a masonry stage, lots of distressed brick walls, and a view of the night sky (as there is no longer a roof remaining. This rustic setting is home to many local blues shows and festivals.
Not too far from the New Roxy is a Blues Road marker for Sam Cooke (famous for songs such as “You Send Me, ” “Chain Gang,” and “A Change is Gonna Come,” which was sung by Bettye Lavette and Jon Bon Jovi at the inauguration celebration President Barack Obama.
Practically next to Sam Cooke’s marker is one for W.C. Handy, who lived on Issaquena Road. Known by many as “Father of the Blues,” Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music. I recall playing his compositions in Jazz Band in high school…tunes such as “St. Louis Blues,”, “Beale St. Blues,” and more.
Another icon of Clarksdale is the historic Paramount Theater. Originally known as the Marion Theatre, the facility opened in 1918 on Yazoo Avenue in Clarksdale. The theatre one of the first in the area to be built mainly for showing movies. During the 1930’s, the Marion Theatre was acquired by the Saenger Amusements chain, which went on to rename it to the current Paramount Theatre. The theater was in operation until 1986, but is apparently being renovated by the Mississippi Arts Council.
Of course, in a town borne of the blues, what better design for benches around town?
Continuing south on US 61 about 12 miles, I came to one of my “sought after destinations” in the town of Alligator, Mississippi (population abt. 200). My original intent was to visit just because of the name, but this town is, in my mind, all about the blues and how I imagined it.
I didn’t see any real alligators in Alligator, but I did see lots of history. The town is home to the “Alligator Blues,” as the Blue Highway Marker below indicates. Alligator has a blues history that rivals that of many a larger town. Once a bustling business center, Alligator has had entertainment spots in town in addition to outlying country juke joints, plantation house parties and storefronts where musicians played as they traversed the surrounding communities. Robert Johnson apparently lived in the area in 1930.
Alligator also had some wonderful wall murals including the one at the top of this post and the one below.
A few more scenes from Alligator, Mississippi
Solidly entrenched in the heart of Delta Blues country, I continue my journey, next to Shelby, MS. This town of about 2000 is home to a couple of Juke Joints including the Do Drop Inn (not to be confused with the famed Dew Drop Inn of New Orleans).
Juke joint is a term used by locals for the informal establishments that featured music, dancing, gambling, and drinking. These were mainly operated by African American people in the southeastern United States. The term “juke” is believed to derive from the Gullah word joog, meaning rowdy or disorderly.A juke joint may also be called a “barrelhouse”. Juke Joints catered to the rural work force that began to emerge after the emancipation. Primarily African-American establishments, juke joints were opened in the southeastern United States during the era of the Jim Crow Laws. Since black sharecroppers and plantation workers were barred from white establishments, juke joints provided a space for these people to kick back after a long week of work. Places like the Do Drop Inn are slowly disappearing as a result of large casinos in many of the areas along the Mississippi.
Next stop on US 61 was Mound Bayou. This town was an all black town in the Yazoo Delta in Northwest Mississippi. It was founded during the spring of 1887 by twelve former slaves led by Isaiah Montgomery. This fledgling black colony continued to remain predominantly African America, and, by percentage, its 98.6 percent African-American majority population is one of the largest of any community in the United States.
Cleveland, MS is one of 11 towns named Cleveland in the United States. I was born in Cleveland, OH so visiting any Cleveland has meaning. (I have also been to Cleveland, TN and Cleveland, IN).
Cleveland is one of the great places to experience the heritage and culture that is the blues, Just outside of town is Dockery Plantation . Often called the “Birthplace of the Blues.” This was home to Delta blues musician, Charley Patton, and was recently honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail. He is considered by many to be the “Father of the Delta Blues”, and is credited with creating an enduring body of American music and personally inspiring just about every Delta blues man. Indeed, it is said that Patton inspired Blues greats John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf and even Robert Johnson at Dockery Farms.
Cleveland is also noted as the place where W.C. Handy was inspired after hearing a blues band in 1905.
Downtown Cleveland has a beautiful tree-lined walkway in downtown, near the old railroad station.
As evening closed in on me after the long drive from Lexington, KY, I scooted southward into Leland, MS. I had hoped to see more of the historic town, but light was running out and I definitely wanted to get to Leland to see the “Birthplace of Kermit the Frog.” Though closed, there was enough light to get a couple of photos.
Famed puppeteer and mastermind of “The Muppets” Jim Henson grew up around Leland, MS, played along Deer Creek and became word famous. This is where he got his start.
So, the day finally ended and darkened as I left Leland and headed for my overnight stay in Vicksburg. End of Day 1 on the Blues Highway – nearly 670 miles of driving from home to here. My next post will complete the trip from Vicksburg to Natchez and into Louisiana.
My trip along Route 2 continued from Glasgow, Montana westward along what is known as the Montana Hi-Line (See my May 2013 post about a previous drive on a portion of the Hi-Line). Back in May last year I drove through to Glasgow and then south. On this trip I tried to spend a little more time in some of the smaller towns on the road and capture the essence of what I feel is a dieing breed hanging on. In fact, to proclaim their existence, many of the towns have a big sign on the highway to proclaim “Hey, we’re here!”
Ultimately, I would drive Route 2 to where it intersects with US Route 89 on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park. That would be the end of my 1165 mile jaunt on US Route 2. (According to Google Maps, it is 1165 miles from downtown Ironwood, MI to the US 2/US 89 Intersection near Browning, MT.)
After spending the night in an old 1970s style motel in Glasgow, Montana, it was back on the road. My last trip through Glasgow was fleeting so I couldn’t capture some of the essence of this nice little town on the eastern edge of Northern Montana. The population of just over 3200 is friendly and accommodating.
Downtown Glasgow offers some old motel signs, ghost signs and some other unique sites.
A drive back to the east part of town leads to the bar with an airplane in the building.
This bar is unique….a real small plane stuck in the building and a dinosaur out front guarding the place.
As one proceeds west on US Hwy 2 out of Glasgow, you will see dinosaurs up on the hillside. These and the other animals and sculptures (as well as the dino at the Hangar) are all creations of artist Buck Samuelson, who offers them for sale.
US Highway 2 has a number of historical signs along the way. The first one west of Glasgow is all about Buffalo Country.
The first town west of Glasgow is the Hinsdale, Montana. Not much here, but they have a unique church building where the steeple is planted in the ground in FRONT of the church and not on top it.
The next little town on the way is Saco, Montana. This town would have faded away long ago if not for its unique place in history as one of the homes of news anchor Chet Huntley, whose father worked for the railroad. There is one room schoolhouse in Saco that he attended. As well, Saco had two years of bragging rights as the Guinness World Record holder for making the world’s largest hamburger, building the 6,040-pound burger from the beef of 17 cattle in 1999.
Just west of town is the “Sleeping Buffalo Rock” which is actually listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
From Saco US Hwy 2 heads southwest as it circles around Lake Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge. From there the road passes through Malta, Montana along nice grazing lands for cattle and horses.
Malta, Montana is a nice small town on the Milk River. It has its share of old signs and old dinosaur bones.
Malta is also home to the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Field Station, which is part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail. The Dinosaur Trail includes 14 different museums around Montana that feature remains and history pertaining to dinosaurs. There are eight locations on the Hi-Line from Glasgow to Rudyard. There are a couple more on US 89 south of Glacier National Park.
The next stop on the road is the small town of Dodson, Montana. They have a new post office, but the old post office sign still remains as a reminder of the past.
From Fort Belknap, US Route 2 heads northwest into the small town of Harlem, Montana. This town is about 50% white and 43% Native American. Like the other towns, it has a metal welcome sign.
Not too far west of Harlem is the small dot of a town called Zurich (pronounced Zoo-rich by the locals). Like many small stations on the railroad, Zurich receives its name from an older, far more impressive city. Legend has it that to name many of their stations, railroad executives would open an atlas at random and point to a city. Although it may seem incongruous that a town on the plains be named after a noted European mountain city, from Zurich, westward bound visitors could catch their first glimpse of the Bear Paw Mountains. It is now basically a place for picnics along the Milk River.
The next stop on the Hi-Line heading west is Chinook, Montana. This small town of about 1500 has some character. It used to be the home of a large sugarbeet factory. They do have one of the more unique high school sports mascots in the country — the Sugarbeeters.
There are still many evidences of the past in Chinook. For instance, the Bear Paw Credit Union uses a remodeled old fashioned gas station that still has the old pumps out front.
I had a lot of other photos of Chinook from a previous trip I took along the Hi-Line in March 2013. You can see that post HERE.
Chinook lies along the Nez Perce National Historic Trail which goes from Wallowa Lake in northeast Oregon (near Joseph, OR — I visited there in 2007), then crosses Idaho and goes south along the border of Idaho and Montana, through Yellowstone then heads north though Billings, MT and finally ends at the Bear Paw Battlefield, which is about 15 miles south of town. The Battlefield Park commemorates the final battle of the Nez Perce War of 1877 where the Nez Perce ceased fighting on October 5th, 1877.
It was at Bear Paw that Chief Joseph gave his famous speech in which he said, “Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.” The Nez Perce Trail, like the Oyate Trail of South Dakota and the Trail of Tears in the Southeast US, among others, are integral parts of American history that help us to better understand the plight of the Native Americans. I am grateful to continue to learn about these great people who lived on this land long before the Europeans found their way here.
From Chinook I zipped through Havre, having visited it extensively in 2013. But, I did stop briefly for a good shot with the large bison that had been made by Cory Holmes, who used three miles of old telegraph wire to create this nine-foot long, six-foot tall 2000 pound bison.
Just west of Havre there is a road called Smith Frisno Road which crosses over the railroad tracks heading north. It eventually leads to a large ranch, but along the way many a visitor has stopped for a photo of an old abandoned schoolhouse that sits out in the prairie. I visited there last year, but wanted to grab a couple more shots as this is one of those iconic places that begs to be photographed.
The next town west of Havre is Kremlin, Montana. Yes, an unusual name for a town. But, as the story goes, the town had some Russian immigrants that were working on the Great Northern Railway who looked off in the distance at the mountains and were reminded of the Kremlin back home. The name apparently stuck.
After Kremlin there are a couple of other small towns before reaching the small historic town of Rudyard, Montana, which actually has three small museums – the Depot Museum, the Dinosaur Museum (part of the Dinosaur Trail) and a Vintage Auto Museum. Using the old railroad depot, the historical society renovated it for a museum in which to house both the written and physical history of the Hi-Line towns of Joplin, Inverness, Rudyard, Hingham, Gildford, and Kremlin.
Then there is my penchant for “collecting” scrap metal art. I came across a place in Rudyard that had three pieces of scrap metal animals in the yard, including a bison, a deer and an elk. I spoke to a guy there and he said “someone in town made them, but I am not sure who.” Surprising to me that in a town of just under 600 people that they don’t all know who does this kind of thing….
Then there is the semi-famous dinosaur skeleton sculpture just west of town on US Highway 2, probably advertising the Dinosaur Museum in Rudyard. I was able to contact the Rudyard Museum and found out that this old guy was made by a farmer named Bryon Wolery, owner of Wolery Farms. He apparently made two of them and one is on his farm.
The road west passes through the small town of Inverness, MT and then past Joplin.
From Joplin it is another 20 miles to the next town, which is Chester. It is much bigger than most of the towns between Havre and Shelby and functions as the county seat for Liberty County. Chester began as a watering and coal loading station for the Great Northern Railroad steam engines around 1891. The name “Chester” was apparently chosen by the first telegraph operator in the town and named in honor of his hometown in Pennsylvania.
North of Chester the Sweet Grass Hills can be seen in the distance. They are actually in the northern part of Liberty County and are actually mountains. They are unique in that they are the highest isolated peaks in the United States. Rising to nearly 7,000 feet, these mountains are volcanic in origin and believed to be millions of years old.
Between Chester and Shelby there is not much, but there is an old neon sign advertising the Galata Campground. So 1960s…. The town itself is practically a ghost town.
Shelby, Montana is another 25 miles down US Route 2 and is by far the largest town along the Hi-Line after Havre. I have written extensively about Shelby on a couple of occasions, so here is the token photo of this large railroad town.
After driving through Shelby, US Route 2 gains altitude and the huge Glacier Wind Farm can be seen. This is actually quite unique for at night all of the turbines blink bright red all along the hills west of Shelby.
From the top of these hills the snow covered peaks of Glacier National Park and the Rocky Mountains can be seen in the distance. But one must pass through Cut Bank, Montana along the way. Named after the creek that cuts its banks along the white clay, the town got its start in the 1890s. The Cut Bank Creek Trestle that crosses the 150 foot deep gorge was built in 1900 but is still in use by the Burlington Santa Fe as well as Amtrak. Today, the town is still vibrant with the railroad and Glacier National Park tourism. It is also the eastern border of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Cut Bank is also home to the “world’s largest penguin” with claims to be the “coldest spot in the nation,” though most sites with “Coldest Spots” lists don’t include it. (See Site 1 and Site 2)
After entering the reservation and not too far west of Cut Bank, there is an historic sign commemorating Camp Disappointment (see my 2013 post on this monument and more). This was the northernmost campsite for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
As I closed in on Browning, Montana, US Highway 2 intersects with US Highway 89, one of the more spectacular N/S Highways in the United States. This is the end of the approximately 1,169 mile long trek along US Highway 2 from Ironwood, MI.
My next post will cover the trip south on US 89 from Browning all the way to Yellowstone National Park.