Lexington artist Dani Greene is painting a mural on the wall of a Lexington grocery store this week that celebrates University of Kentucky basketball.
But Greene, 29, said Thursday that she plans to use the proceeds from her effort at the Shopper's Choice Market, 649 Georgetown Street, to create another painting in memory of her friend, Mukeshbhai Patel, 51, who was killed this month in a Lexington gas station robbery.
Greene wants to paint that mural at the Marathon gas station on Alexandria Drive, where Patel was shot Dec. 9. He died afterward at the UK Chandler Hospital.
Like many others, Greene knew Patel as "Mike."
"I went to that station almost every day to buy Mountain Dew and cigarettes, and he would talk to me," she recalled Thursday afternoon. "He always teased me to quit smoking. He'd say, 'You're too young and pretty for all that.'
"He was such a nice, genuine person," she said. "Why would anybody want to do something like that to him?"
Police have charged Travis Michael Bredhold, 18, with killing Patel. Bredhold's case was sent to the Fayette County grand jury during a court hearing earlier Thursday.
Greene said she isn't yet sure what form the memorial painting might take. She said she'd like to confer with his family to see what they might like.
"I want to paint a portrait of him ... or perhaps represent something from his religion," she said. "Or something to promote that gun violence isn't a good thing. We all know guns kill people."
Jack Shah, a friend who has spoken on behalf of the Patel family, said Thursday that he and the family would be appreciative of Greene's project
"It's a wonderful thing that she wants to do a mural," he said. "It's a great thing for people to remember him by."
Harry Singh, owner of the Marathon station, said he was aware of Green's plan. Her mural will be painted on the wall of the station facing Wendy's and Kroger, he said.
"I think it's going to be a great tribute to Mike," Singh said.
Dani Greene said she's been obsessed with art most of her life, often inspired by the late Bob Ross, whose painting show appears weekly on KET.
"I've been doing art ever since I could hold a pencil, and Bob Ross was my idol," she said. "I bought his whole series a few months ago so I watch everything he does."
Greene said, however, that she didn't start trying to sell her own work until about six months ago. She says she sells pictures any way she can, sometimes just walking into businesses and showing her work.
Sometimes, she makes art for free.
"For local businesses that just want to make something pretty ... you donate the paint to me and I'll paint it on there for free. It's not about the money. If you're in it for the money, you're in it for the wrong reason."
Greene said that before starting to sell her art, she worked "odds and ends jobs, raking leaves or whatever. Just trying to make it.
"I was just looking for a company that would give me a chance," she said. "I love everything about art. It promotes happiness."
That brought Greene back to her memories of Mukeshbhai Patel who, she said, made people feel happy.
"He wasn't just helping customers. He always cared about who he was in front of. A lot of people don't know how good he was."
She said she knew Patel for about three years during her visits to the Marathon, which is near where she lives.
On the day Patel was shot, Greene said, she noticed police cars parked at the Marathon station, but didn't know what happened until later that night when someone told her "Mike" had been killed.
"It's Christmas, the worst time of year for something like this happen, she said. "It's really sad."
She said she's eager to get started on Patel's painting.
"I'd like to do something that he would maybe look down at and say, 'Hey, that's really cool.'"
Herald-Leader reporter Justin Madden contributed to this story. Jim Warren (859) 231-3255. Twitter: hlpublicsafetyHerald-Leader reporter Justin Madden contributed to this story. Jim Warren (859) 231-3255. Twitter: hlpublicsafety