Mural artists bring urban art to blank building walls in Lexington

ctruman@herald-leader.comSeptember 13, 2012 

  • An east German artistic duo called Herakut , Jasmin Siddiqui (AKA Hera) and Falk Lehman (AKA Akut), is in Lexington this week doing two murals, one at the corner of Market and Short and one on the old Spalding's building and is a mixture of urban graffiti, shock value and high artistic skill. Video by Mark Cornelison | Staff

Her name is Lily, the long tall girl with the big eyes painted on the side of the building at 156 Market Street.

She is a character in an upcoming book by the urban art team called Herakut, which consists of German artists Jasmin Siddiqui and Falk Lehman. The two started painting the mural midweek and finished it Thursday. They have painted murals in other locations including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Cologne, Germany.

Along with Lily, the painting includes a sort of boy-monkey hybrid, a monkey and a horse with wings. It is constructed using spray paint and cherry-picker industrial lifts.

Herakut is well known in the world of urban art, with installations indoors and out. The pair work quickly: Siddiqui does the outlines and broad strokes, while Lehman said he concentrates on details and skin tones, which can require dozens of different colors.

Putting up a piece of art on the side of a building in a little over two days comes with the territory of being a street artist, he said: "It's part of our work. As a graffiti artist, you work fast."

On Thursday the two started a silvery female moon character on the side of a building at North Limestone and East Sixth Street.

Transylvania faculty Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova spearheaded the effort to bring Herakut to Lexington, helping raise the $8,000 required for travel and materials. They hope to bring more artists to Lexington to create additional murals. Owners of other buildings have already shown interest, they said.

The two had seen Herakut's work in Los Angeles and wanted to bring them to Lexington's street art festival.

"We really like the idea of promoting street artists," Gohde said, adding he hopes that the projects bring attention to the urban art and music festival called Prhbtn that will take place on Oct. 5. Visit:

"One of the best things about this is that it has become a community event," Todorova said. "It's important for the city, for art in the community."

She hopes the process can be repeated next fall with different artists.

"We have the walls, we have the support," Todorova said. "Why not do it again next year? Make Lexington a destination for street artists."

The artists have been receiving meals, snacks, drinks and souvenirs from passers-by, Todorova said. Some even sat down in a nearby parking lot to watch the painters at work. Although the activity drew a crowd, some people were puzzled about what it all meant.

"I'd be interested in knowing what their story is about," said Bev Nordvall, who was visiting from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She said she hoped the child Lily got a happy resolution.

The child is not sad, Siddiqui said, but rather concentrating, the crossed arms signifying indecision and inner conflict. She called her "a stubborn little girl."

She said that the differing interpretations are part of the fun of her work.

Artist Georgia Henkel led several groups of elementary school students to the building to watch Herakut work Wednesday.

"It's graffiti," one little boy said.

"No, it's a mural," another boy insisted.

They were both right.

Cheryl Truman: (859)231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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