'Before I die ...' wall invites Lexingtonians to contribute to public art installation

rcopley@herald-leader.comSeptember 29, 2013 

The building that holds Arcadium Bar already boasts the iconic mural work of Herakut. For a month this fall, the property also will hold some Lexington-area residents' deepest desires.

Lexington resident Kim Bloomfield and some friends are creating a "Before I Die ..." wall where passersby may write what they would like to do before the inevitable.

The project brings to Lexington an idea formulated by New Orleans artist Candy Chang and replicated in more than 50 countries and many U.S. cities, including Lexington, Mass., and Louisville.

Chang said on the "Before I Die ..." website (Beforeidie.cc) that the death of a friend prompted Chang to contemplate her mortality and create the first wall.

"People's responses made me laugh out loud and they made me tear up," Chang wrote. "They consoled me during my toughest times. I understood my neighbors in new and enlightening ways, and the wall reminded me that I'm not alone as I try to make sense of my life."

Said Bloomfield: "I loved her story and how she created the first wall on the side of an abandoned building in New Orleans. I was enthralled by the idea and thought, we have to bring this to Lexington."

The wall is permanently lined with the phrase "Before I die I want to _____" repeated many times. In the spaces next to the words, people finish the sentence. In other locations, people have written phrases that include:

■ bring all the military home.

■ share God's word.

■ be a success.

■ paint the Mona Lisa in watercolors.

■ take care of my mom the way she took care of me.

■ swim with dolphins.

Scouring boards in previous installations, there were lots of "see the world," "read the Bible," "have an impact on the world" and similar thoughts.

Bloomfield needed a public place for the wall and found that at one of Chad Needham's properties, the old Spalding's Bakery building that is now Arcadium, at the busy corner of East Sixth Street and North Limestone. Corner residents also include Al's Bar and North Lime Coffee & Donuts.

"It gives the community a chance to be playful and thoughtful in a public place," Bloomfield said.

The wall will go up Friday and stand through Nov. 5. After that, Bloomfield said it could go to other locations. She said she picked October because she wanted it to be out before the weather got too cold.

During its display, Bloomfield said, she will take pictures and post them daily on Facebook and Instagram.

Learn More

For more on Before I Die ... walls, go to Beforeidie.cc. Updates on the Lexington project are at Facebook.com/www.beforeidielexky and Instagram.com/beforeidielexky

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @copiousnotes. Blog: copiousnotes.bloginky.com.

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