A mural was being removed Monday from the exterior of Lexington’s Bryan Station High School following complaints from neighbors.
The mural was created by PRHBTN, an arts organization that has placed more than two dozen murals throughout Lexington in the past six years.
Bryan Station Principal James McMillin said after neighbors contacted him with their concerns, “I elected to move the mural inside the building.”
“When it’s art, that’s what you get,” said McMillin. “You get some people who like it, you get some people who don’t.“
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“I love the murals,” said McMillin. “We got to partner with PRHBTN. It’s been a really positive thing for our school and our school community.”
Neighbor Andrew McGrannahan led the effort to remove the mural with the theme “The Pride of the North Side” because he was concerned that painting a mural — any mural — on the building’s exterior was “going to take down my property values” and mars what he thinks is an attractive school building, he said.
It was the permanence of the mural that concerned McGrannahan who said he didn’t think a permanent mural should have been painted on the outside of the building.
During a remodel about 10 years ago, Bryan Station High School essentially got a new building, one that McGrannahan, who attended Bryan Station, said he’s proud of.
“I grew up on the north side, I love the north side,” he said.
McGrannahan reached out to McMillin and to district officials at Fayette County Public Schools’ Central Office to express his concerns.
He said he was concerned that the mural might further stigmatize the school. Bryan Station High officials have raised academic achievement at the school and have worked to improve discipline problems that were previously documented in audits by state officials in recent years.
The mural that was moved inside joins another interior mural that was part of PRHBTN mural installation.
School district officials are helping to remove the mural from the building’s exterior, said McMillin. He did not have immediate costs.
The exterior mural included tree rings referencing time and pictures representing students in Bryan Station’s academies and scenes around North Lexington suggested by alumni, said McMillin. School officials reached out to alumni and community members about what the mural should represent, he said.
The mural was 31 feet by 16 feet, according to the Prhbtn website. The second indoor mural was 29 feet by 10 feet, the website said. It features the word ‘Future’ and reflects scenes from Bryan Station High’s Academies.
McMillin said as part of the Prhbtn project, an artist chosen by people associated with Bryan Station, worked on the outside mural. When it was moved inside, the artist worked on both murals. Students helped with painting the backgrounds, he said. The FUTURE mural design concept came from two students, McMillin said. According to the Prhbtn website, the installation was scheduled to begin in October.
Prhbtn officials referred questions to McMillin.
Maury Sparrow, communications director of the Lexington arts group LexArts, the fiscal agent for Prhbtn, said he agreed with McMillin that art appeals to some and not to others.
“At least people are reacting,” Sparrow said. “Art is meant to elicit a response, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. As far as murals go, murals are meant to be temporary.”
Also, Sparrow said, the project at the school is valuable because it, “exposes so many kids to the power of art.”
The mural was not the first in Lexington to spark discussion about public art. In 2014, there were complaints about aPRHBTN mural on the Pepper Distillery Warehouse which depicted a street artist behind bars with red police tape running across it saying, “Caution: Do Not Feed.”
Lexington native Barton Lynch said he supported having the mural painted on Bryan Station. When Lynch traveled from Washington, D.C., back home for Christmas recently, he said he was dismayed to see that work had been halted on the mural..
Lynch said after he learned that the mural was duplicated inside that “it’s better than nothing, but I wish their original intent had been followed through.”
“I care that the students are getting what’s good for them ... a good education and good experiences, “ Lynch said, “ I think art students working on a mural on their school is a great opportunity to contribute to the community.”