East End Mural Painted Over

Aug 25, 2014

The covering up of a Lexington mural honoring the East End’s horse-racing legacy has some area residents upset.

East End mural by Char Downs
East End mural by Char Downs
Credit LexArts

After the property changed hands the new owners decided to paint over the three-year-old art work. In a Herald-Leader letter to the editor, East End resident Thomas Tolliver called the move a “slap in the face” to the neighborhood.

Maury Sparrow with LexArts, the organization that commissioned the mural featuring white and African-American jockeys, says the new owners of the former Hurst Office Supply at Elm Tree Lane and East Short Street did not contact their offices until after they had painted over the artwork. LexArts had a verbal contract with the previous owner, but he says that agreement obviously did not survive the transition to new ownership.

He notes that maintaining the mural would have required some work as well.

"The folks that painted it said that there were very large chunks of the mural that were barely even attached to the building, and so there are several components to that. First there's the painting, but then there's the maintenance and the costs associated with it. But the mural had really served its purpose," Sparrow says.

While his organization is disappointed to see the work go, he notes that three years is a relatively healthy lifespan for such a project.

Critics say the owners should have consulted community members first, even though the ultimate decision falls to the owners. Tolliver told WUKY he wishes community members had been given a chance to thoroughly document the mural and perhaps keep it alive in some other form.

"It was paying tribute to the Kentucky Association Racetrack, which stood over here in the East End for 105 years," he says.

The mural commission cost LexArts $12,000.

WUKY was unable to contact the new owners of the property in time for broadcast.

Updated: 8/25, 5:00 p.m.

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