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Artists' touch needed for Legacy Trail

Plans will be unveiled Tuesday for the first phase of a public art project along the 12.5-mile Legacy Trail from the Kentucky Horse Park to downtown.

Art scheduled for installation this summer includes large handmade flags, paintings on the trail surface itself and decorative embossments in the asphalt where the trail crosses public streets. The main intersection will be at Newtown Pike and Citation Boulevard.

"We've already issued a call for artists. What we need right now for this first phase are artists who do two-dimensional work," said Allison Kaiser, executive director of the Lexington Art League and a member of the Legacy Trail Public Art Consortium.

When the trail was chosen by the community as a legacy project of the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games, "public art was a big component," said Steve Austin, executive director of the Legacy Center at Blue Grass Foundation.

Kate Sprengnether's selection as trail project manager also will be announced at Tuesday's meeting. Sprengnether, director of the Tuska Center for Contemporary Art at the University of Kentucky, will be responsible for working with artists, contractors and the city to get artists selected and their works placed along the trail by Aug. 31.

Construction started about 10 days ago on the $8.5 million trail.

Consultants Todd Bressi and Stacy Levy, hired in January, will unveil the trail's master plan with placement of art at the public meeting.

"It's probably the fastest art plan they've ever done," Austin said.

The three phases are called Blazes (flags), Tapis (paintings on the trail) and Crossings (stamping the asphalt pavement).

The flags, as tall as 50 feet, will be arranged in groups of three to five, Austin said. Paintings on the trail will be interpretations by artists of the area's history, economy, geology and agriculture.

The art in the second and third phases will be placed during the next five years and include temporary exhibitions along the trail and large, permanent pieces that will be commissioned.

In addition to creating visual interest, "The art will help hikers and walkers find their way," said Marnie Holoubek, a member of the art consortium. People can look ahead to see another painting or group of flags that will show them where the trail is going.

This first phase of the art trail will cost about $200,000, of which $150,000 has been raised from public and private sources. A fund-raising campaign will be launched soon to raise the remaining $50,000, Austin said.

The trail will start at the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden at East Third Street and Midland Avenue. Murphy was an African-American jockey who rode three Kentucky Derby winners. He lived very close to the site of the garden. The trail ends at the Horse Park, where Murphy is buried.

Holoubek said the consortium has hesitated to describe the trail as a museum without walls because the word museum has the connotation of being exclusive.

"We want to make sure this is the most inclusive project for everybody involved, whether the recreational user or the artist contributing to it."

Artists who want to submit designs for Blazes, Tapis and Crossings can go to for details.

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