Fayette County

‘F*** Trump,’ new, large downtown Lexington mural says. Artist explains: ‘I am fed up.’

The artist of a recently-completed mural in downtown Lexington is defending an expletive written on it about President Donald Trump.

The mural on Church Street building in between Limestone and Upper Street, called “The Devil is in the Details,” features one major detail on the left portion of the painting. Inscribed in cursive is the message “F*** Trump.”

According to PRHBTN, for whom the mural was created, the artist finished the mural and decided to use UV glow paint to write the message about Trump. John Winters, one of the creators of PRHBTN, said the message was supposed to be an “Easter egg” and essentially invisible, but it did not dry correctly.

The artist, known as ELLE, said in a statement provided by PRHBTN that she was expressing her anger in her writing.

“In America, we are all entitled to share our opinion, and it’s important to exercise this right. Let me be clear, this is not about politics, this is about expressing my anger: I am fed up!” ELLE said in her statement. “I demand a better leader who is not a misogynistic ‘p**** grabbing’ inappropriate person. I want a leader, from any party-who is respectful, anti-racist, believes and acts to mitigate climate change and who believes in gender equality. We need to hold ‘leaders’ to a higher moral standard. I am fed up with this delusional sexist, racist man. As the child of an immigrant, I imagine Trump dislikes me as much as I do him. I believe that immigrants enrich America-it is what makes this land great and culturally rich- a place of opportunity for all.”

According to her biography, ELLE is considered “one of the top touring street artists” and has created murals in London, Berlin, New York City and Melbourne.

Susan Straub, the spokeswoman for the city, said the message is a free speech issue.

“This is a mural on a private building; no public dollars are involved in this mural,” Straub stated. “As much as we don’t agree with the use of vulgarity, this is a free speech issue.”

Winters said he was not aware ELLE was going to write the message about Trump in the mural, but said PRHBTN gives artists creative control in their art. PRHBTN is an arts organization that has placed more than two dozen murals throughout the city in the last six years.

“We don’t tell them what to do or what to paint. We feel that gives them the best avenue to create their best work,” Winters said. “Sometimes we may not agree, sometimes the result may not be as we intended. We also understand people have different opinions on art, on speech. We welcome discussion.”

Earlier this year, a PRHBTN mural was removed from the exterior of Bryan Station High School following complaints from neighbors. One neighbor told the Herald-Leader he was concerned painting a mural on the building’s exterior was “going to take down my property values” and mar what he thought was an attractive school building.

Several people have commented on PRHBTN’s Facebook post of the Church Street mural. One woman said she would petition for it to be removed. Another person said he hopes the mural gets vandalized.

In her statement, ELLE continued to comment about Trump and the example she feels he is setting for future generations.

“Trump has reduced National Park territory, instead giving it over to private corporations, he is rolling back climate change progress and is openly sexist and misogynistic. How can we allow someone like this to represent our country and stand as our leader?” she asked. “What example does this set for future generations? Politics had gotten in the way of judgment- we are too divided across the aisle- this is about integrity and showing our future generations what we will and won’t stand for. Let’s unite in denouncing sexism and racism!”

Winters said they have not had a chance to discuss the future of the mural or what will happen. He said they have not heard from the city regarding it.

The mural faces Lussi Brown Coffee. The manager of the coffee shop declined to comment.

Mike Stunson covers breaking news and real-time news for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. He is a 2011 Western Kentucky University graduate who has previously worked at the Paducah Sun and Madisonville Messenger as a sports reporter.
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