A new public art project is unfolding across Lexington, beginning with a four-panel mural at the Lexington Legends stadium.
A 90-foot wall at Hurst Office Suppliers is also being painted. Soon, a third mural at Saul Good restaurant in Hamburg will join them.
"It's a continuation of the mural project we began in 2008," said Jim Clark, president of LexArts, which partnered with the businesses to bring the projects to life. Each mural cost about $15,000. Some financing for the project also came from the auction of Horse Mania 2010 sculptures.
In the case of the Legends mural, which was dedicated last week at Whitaker Bank Ballpark, artist Esteban Camacho Steffensen of Portland, Ore., gave nods to bourbon, horses and baseball, including the Lexington Hustlers, the city's former African-American baseball team.
Andy Shea, Lexington Legends general manager, said his Little Brothers from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program in the neighborhood also helped to paint the panels.
Public art brings the city to life, Shea said.
"It brings so much color, life and unity to the neighborhood," he said. "It gives a city an identity."
Artist Char Downs of Paducah drew on the East End's history as a racetrack for her mural along Elm Tree Lane. Downs, who is a racing fan, researched the former Kentucky Association track that preceded Keeneland and found a newspaper article from a day at the races in the 1800s and painted it into the scene.
She included a black jockey as a reference to famous riders such as three-time Kentucky Derby winner Isaac Murphy, who was buried originally in the neighborhood.
"About the only thing (the mural) doesn't have is Henry Clay," Downs said. Clay was a founder of the original racetrack.
Downs is about halfway completed with the mural, but has to take breaks to cope with the high heat.
The mural at Saul Good, which will be painted by Jeff Schaller of Downingtown, Pa., is scheduled to be completed this fall.
That work will include images from Hamburg Farm, including owner Anita Madden's themed Derby Eve parties, as well as a scene from the nearby Parkette Drive-In on New Circle Road.
"It looks a bit like a 1950s ad — a very stylized look," Clark, of LexArts, said.
The contributions of business leaders, like the late Dick Hurst, are important parts of the project, Clark said.
"These particular businesses came to us and this is exactly how we'll be able to grow our public art," Clark said. "The more businesses we can get involved, the more people see what they can do and the more people see how something like this benefits them and the public. Then we will be able to have a very vibrant public art community."