Living in Lexington, artist Casey McKinney says he drove past the Henry Clay Estate thousands of times, but never knew much about the U.S. Senator and Representative from Kentucky.
Now, McKinney is the creator of Lexington’s newest Clay landmark: a colorful mural of Clay that wraps around the corner of the Phoenix Building at East Vine Street and Hernando Alley.
“The Great Compromiser,” commissioned by LexArts and the City of Lexington, is the latest mural on East Vine Street, joining Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra’s mural of President Abraham Lincoln on the back of the Kentucky Theatre and Waseem Touma’s mural on the Vine Street side of the High Street YMCA.
McKinney, now based in Louisville, was not specifically asked to make a Clay mural, but said he chose to base the work on Clay because it seemed appropriate to the context of the city and other artwork on the block.
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While creating his colorful mural, McKinney said he learned a lot about Clay, who was also U.S. Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams and founder of the Whig Party. For one thing, he learned that Lincoln eulogized Clay on the floor of the Illinois Hall of Representatives when Clay died in 1852.
“Now these two guys will live forever down the block from each other,” McKinney said.