John Winters woke up Tuesday morning to a devastating message: Someone was washing away one of the murals his art company, PRHBTN, helped create.
In a state of disbelief and confusion, Winters said he raced to the corner of Bryan Avenue and North Limestone to find what was left of the mural — the hooves of what used to be galloping horses.
Winters' finger immediately pointed to Griffin VanMeter, whose company, Kentucky for Kentucky, is headquartered in the building. The company creates art that promotes Kentucky's unique people, places and products.
In a post on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon, Winters said he and his wife "find it incredibly hard to believe that it was a mistake to remove a mural of this size and are devastated that this action cannot be undone."
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But VanMeter said that's exactly what happened: The mural was removed after a miscommunication between him and contractors he hired to clean the wall before putting up more murals.
"I felt horrible," VanMeter said. "I'm going to try and make it right."
VanMeter is on the board of the North Limestone Community Development Corp., which spent $2,500 to help pay for the mural. It showed galloping horses carrying colorfully clad jockeys and had "To the amazing people of Lexington" painted above.
VanMeter said he never wanted the original piece, painted by Portuguese artist Odeith in November 2013, to be washed away.
"I have a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and money, in that mural." VanMeter said. "It's a big shame and horribly ironic, especially because we were prepping the rest of the wall for more murals."
Perhaps more ironically, Van Meter was out of town Tuesday morning giving a speech about how to use art to motivate communities.
VanMeter said he would invite Odeith back to Lexington and pay him to create another mural.
"We know that that doesn't rectify the current situation, but we're hoping to do what's best," he said.
In an interview later Tuesday afternoon, Winters softened his stance, saying he didn't think the mural's destruction was malicious. The dispute will not cause any tension between PRHBTN and Kentucky for Kentucky, he said.
"We really hope it was a mistake," Winters said. "To see something we worked really hard on unceremoniously destroyed, it's kind of tough to take."
Last year, a mural commissioned by LexArts at Short Street and Elm Tree Lane was painted over by the building's new owner. The mural, painted in 2011 on what then was Hurst Office Supply, honored the East End's history as the home of the Kentucky Association racetrack.
Zeff Maloney, the building's new owner, said he wasn't told about the mural's significance.