Suzanne Gray

With the city’s mural guidelines now in place, it’s a good time to share news about some exciting additions to Frankfort’s cultural landscape through a new initiative called Arts Downtown. Using funds raised locally, this program will bring five sculptures and three murals to our community this fall.  

Arts Downtown is administered by the Franklin County Arts Council, also known as FrankArts, which has supported local arts projects since its inception in 2016. Arts20, a unique sculpture exhibit in Riverview Park, is one of our projects and includes popular work like “The Barnacle” by Kari Reardon and “Rivers that Talk and Bridges that Sing,” a canoe-shaped sound installation by Joanna Hay. We were also pleased to provide some financial support for the final phase of local artist Jennifer Zingg’s children’s mural on the flood wall near the Ward Oates amphitheater, in addition to partnering with Josephine Sculpture Park.

The selection process for Arts Downtown is a rigorous one. On June 13, we released a nationwide call to solicit proposals from artists with strong public art experience. Submissions will be reviewed by the FrankArts team, who hold more than 50 years combined experience as arts administrators, consultants and professional artists. In addition, we’ll work closely with property owners and members of the community to ensure our work meets the new standards set by the city commission. 

One great feature of Arts Downtown is that the work will not be permanent. Each sculpture will be displayed for a limited time, then either moved to a new location or replaced with new work. The murals have an expected lifespan of seven to 10 years. This is not only economical, as maintenance costs are minimal, but it also keeps the exhibitions fresh. As funding permits, new pieces will be rotated in, offering residents and visitors more to enjoy.  

A recent Americans for the Arts survey showed 70% of Americans believe the “arts improve the image and identity” of their community. Their survey also showed a majority (52% of Millennials and 54% of Gen Xs) say they “strongly consider whether a community is rich in the arts when deciding where to locate for a job.” As many have discovered, art not only enlivens cities; it can be an economic driver impacting tourism and development. 

We’d like to share more details about Arts Downtown with you, so we hope you’ll join us on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Paul Sawyier Public Library, where we’ll share details about the program and answer questions. 

With donations from businesses including Kentucky Employees Credit Union, generous patrons like Richard Rosen, in-kind support from the city and county, and grants, FrankArts is looking forward to providing new opportunities for people to engage with and experience the arts in our capital city and all across Franklin County. 

Suzanne Fernandez Gray is president of the Franklin County Arts Council, She can be reached at


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