‘Awful corner by a railroad track’ gets new look with unusual art outside Lexington Locals’

When Chad Walker first took Ryan Hargrove to Locals’ Craft Food and Drinks on National Avenue around a year ago, he had no idea what was needed for the barren lot next to the railroad tracks outside the restaurant.

The land is owned by Walker and his family’s property management business.

“This awful corner by a railroad track _ that’s your spot, you gotta make it look pretty,” Walker said he told Hargrove.

“And he pulled it off amazingly, Walker said at Friday’s reveal of the three, 19-sided shapes made out of steel. “We’ve been calling these things the cubes, and even through the design process, Ryan helped us find the creators. We couldn’t find anybody to make these things, and he said, ‘I got a steel guy, I got a guy in Nashville.’”

Designs on the faces represent various elements of the neighborhood, which Walker said has made a resurgence since his childhood.

Three geometric statues were unveiled outside Local’s restaurant Friday. Rebekah Alvey

Walker also said that the energy of the area has changed as it’s been redeveloped..

This latest version of the neighborhood is “more than just a rented spot to conduct business, it’s become a community,” Walker said.

Walker estimated the cost of the sculptures to be about $40,000 of which $10,000 was financed by the city of Lexington’s Corridors Commission. Bill Farmer, a city council member and chair of the commission, also spoke at the unveiling.

“We had been asked to be partners in this . . . and that’s what Corridors does so well.,” Farmer said. “We partner with folks to bring a little bit different look to each corridor.”

After the tarps had been removed Friday from the sculptures, to applause from the assembled audience, Hargrove, who also is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, took to the podium to offer a glimpse into the creative process.

“We knew we needed something that was visually interesting,” Hargrove said. “But also pulled from the character of the place. If you look at the designs. . . . there’s some symbology there, not only in the patterning of it, pulled from different buildings in the area, but also from the landscape and the rail yard.”

Walker said that he gave Hargrove complete creative freedom with the project, which resulted in sculptures that can change appearances for special occasions due to LED lights inside each structure.

“They’ll be able to be changed for the seasons,” Walker said. “So for St. Patrick’s Day we can do green, Valentines Day we can do red, Fourth of July, Red, White and Blue.” The area will be known as “The Grove” according to Walker, who named it after Hargrove.

The art was made available for viewing as of Friday before Walker hosts a National Avenue block party from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday.