Residents may have noticed a new piece of art going up on the side of Bourbon on Main in recent days.
The mural is the first of three murals to go up in Downtown Frankfort following international calls by the Franklin County Arts Council, also known as FrankArts, for murals and sculptures to beautify the area. The installation of the works is collectively called Arts Downtown.
The Bourbon on Main mural is being painted by by Chicago-based artist Anna Murphy, a 2007 Frankfort High School graduate, with the help of her parents, Shaun and Paula Murphy, who still live in Frankfort. The piece is called “Beautiful and Brave.” Over 90 mural concepts were submitted from national and international artists.
“I think the contrast between the old buildings and contemporary art is awesome,” Anna Murphy said of the FrankArts project.
She expects to spend about five weeks working on the mural, which will be 1,200 square feet when finished. In her application, she wrote that the meaning behind the mural is to represent “a unified love, between all."
"Every being of life connected by the divine love of the universe. Surrounded by a glowing gold background, reflecting the riches and beauty of the world. Symbols of resourcefulness (fox), courage (tiger), community (bees) and new beginnings, we look to a bright future, where love is all around.”
When finished, the mural will be made of blue, yellow and white and will feature a woman’s face, though that’s not a representation of an actual person, Paula Murphy said.
“Frankfort has a special place in my heart, so it is nice to leave a piece of myself here,” Anna said.
While working on the mural for the past week, Anna said a few residents and some familiar faces have stopped by to inquire about her work. Paula said it's nice to have her daughter home for a while.
Both Anna and Paula initially applied as for the mural as a mother-and-daughter team, though Anna’s taken the lead because of her fine art training and professional work history, Paula said. Anna studied art at the University of Louisville before moving to Chicago.
Recently, Anna unveiled a mural at Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chicago. She mostly creates portraits. Some of her previous works can be found on her Instagram page, @annapmurphy, or website, annapmurphy.com.
Suzanne Fernandez Gray, the president of FrankArts, said that all of the murals and selected sculptures will be added to the Frankfort/Franklin County Public Art Tour.
Another leader of FrankArts Melanie VanHouten said the selected sculptures will go up next week. Eight were chosen, but two sculptures are no longer going to be on display. Two will be on St. Clair, one on Broadway, one at the Franklin County Courthouse and two on Main Street. The Frankfort Arts Alliance will also hold an open house or reception for the public artwork during its open studio tour on Nov. 2, she said.
The other two mural locations are Nitro of Frankfort and Capital Cellars, though contracts with the selected artists have not been signed, so FrankArts is not ready to publicly name those works, Gray said. The group hopes to have those signatures by the middle of next week.
“I think what it brings to Frankfort is some new energy and it helps tell the story of our community better,” Gray said of the artwork.
Richard Rosen, who was the private donor for Arts Downtown, said he chose to sponsor the project because his goals for Frankfort coincide with FrankArts. The group leaders include Gray VanHouten and artist Joanna Hay.
“What I am hoping for is that it will bring business,” Rosen said.
After the art is installed, it could attract residents to come to the area and charm visitors with Frankfort’s atmosphere, encouraging them to stay another night or two during their visit.
Kelly May, one of the business partners of Bourbon on Main, said the work on the mural is already intriguing patrons. After having a meal at the restaurant, some walk outside to watch Anna paint.
May said the business had some say in choosing which mural would go on the side of the building, and he liked Anna’s for its color scheme. The wall makes for a great canvas, he said.
Arts Downtown gives people “another reason to come downtown,” May said.
It makes the area akin to an art museum, as some of the work does not have a Frankfort tie, but it is still made by a world-renowned artist. The art also provides an avenue for conversation to begin.
“Art allows people to come together and agree and disagree from all demographics,” May said.
The murals are among the first to go through the process outlined by the city’s mural ordinance, which was passed earlier this year. Community Planning and Development Director Eric Cockley said that all three mural sites have been approved by staff, meaning they did not have to go before the Architectural Review Board and met the requirements outlined in the ordinance.
Sponsors for Arts Downtown include Josephine Sculpture Park, Joanna Hay Productions, Arts Consultant Suzanne Fernandez Gray, Downtown Frankfort, Inc., Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist Commission, City of Frankfort, Franklin County Fiscal Court, Expree Credit Union and Rosen.