New Downtown Lexington Art Features Henry Clay

Jul 11, 2017

Credit Stu Johnson

Downtown Lexington is now home to a new piece of public art. 

The official dedication ceremony Monday included acknowledgment of a well-known historical figure.


Among the myriad of brightly-colored and irregularly-shaped objects on the Phoenix Building, passers-by can see a “knees up” image of Kentucky’s “great compromiser,” Henry Clay.  

Not more than a block away on the back wall of the Kentucky Theater building sits Abraham Lincoln. 

The artist, former Lexington resident, Casey McKinney took part in the street-side ceremony.

“Clay founded the Whig party and Lincoln was the head of the Whig party in Illinois, so they did interact on occasion,” said McKinney.  “The two guys will now live forever right down the road from each other.”

McKinney says he believes the painting on the raised aluminum composite material, will be durable.

LexArts President Ellen Plummer says public art is becoming more a part of the downtown scene. 

“Art is now quite firmly a part of our identity here in Lexington, the downtown core especially, but not only, are really thought of as places to come to see art not only in galleries and, of course, in our great museums, but also here in the public square,” Plummer said.

Although Lexington is becoming home to an increasing amount of public art, Vice Mayor Steve Kay says it will be some time before there’s too much. 

“There are many many cities that have been working on public arts, especially murals for decades.  We have started doing more in the last four or five years, maybe ten years and starting to have enough impact but we have a long way to go,” said Kay.

Kay told those gathered for the ceremony, the wall art, painted by Casey McKinney, will be an eye-catching feature of the Town Branch Trail that’s expected to eventually wind through the center of Lexington.