Drivers rounding the bend at Mary and Logan streets in Louisville’s Shelby Park neighborhood near downtown will have the sense that a giant crow is hovering above them.
The crow is the central element of a dramatic new mural on the side of the Sober Solutions building at that intersection that artist Wilfred Sieg III has been working on from a lift bucket recently. It’s part of an ongoing project of the Shelby Park Neighborhood Association to call attention to the neighborhood’s main entrances and corridors.
The association also is promoting the area’s history with a new state highway historical marker, the neighborhood’s second, that will be unveiled at 5 p.m. Dec. 22 at 1303 S. Shelby St. It tells about the old Shelby Street streetcar barn and the “Schnitzelburg Loop,” completed in 1907.
The mural’s “crow” image has even deeper and more profound significance as a tribute to building owner Pat McKiernan’s late father, Ron McKiernan.
Pat McKiernan, who is the director of Sober Solutions, a recovery house for men with alcohol addictions, said his father taught prisoners to read and write in the 1960s through a program called “Cannot Read Or Write” (C. R. O. W.) and that “Crow” became his nickname for many years.
Ron McKiernan, who died in 2012 at age 77, was imprisoned at the time at the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange in Oldham County and was one of the few inmates who had some college education, his son said.
He had been involved in drug possession and dealing, and after his release he and his son worked for more than 30 years as partners in the building and operating the recovery program, Pat McKiernan said.
He describes the mural, which depicts the crow holding a pen for writing, as “quite beautiful” and says his father’s legacy “is an important story. He dedicated his life to helping people overcome addiction problems.”
Sieg, who said his “day job” is working as art director for WLKY-32 TV, also has been working on a mural he describes as somewhat “surreal” on the side of Best Blind & Shade Inc., 1264 S. Preston St. It includes the image of a blindfolded man.
Both building owners agreed to have the murals added after being asked by neighborhood association representatives, said Chip Rogalinski, the association’s president.
Sieg’s murals are the fourth and fifth ones in the neighborhood.
“We are using local art to connect our stakeholders and residents to their community and encourage the city to see Shelby Park as a neighborhood of choice as we press forward with reducing the number of vacant houses,” Rogalinski said in an email.
He said it’s been a “great year of renewal for Shelby Park” and that the association will close out the year by providing a hot meal to the 4th Division of the Louisville Metro Police Department Dec. 8.