BY KRISTINA ROSEN
Each year, the PRHBTN street art festival invites renowned artists to leave their mark on vacant walls in Lexington, the most famous being the Kobra mural of Lincoln that adorns the back side of the Kentucky Theatre. Among the global artists who will be painting a mural this year, are local artists Geoff Murphy and John Penrose, founders of Fowl County.
“If we were asked to paint a mural it would be of whales flying through outer space or pizza monsters,” says Penrose. “We’ve actually thought a lot about this, but it would be something fun and random.”
For the sixth installment of PRHBTN, a contest was held for local artists to submit concept ideas for a mural to be placed on the side of STEAM Academy, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. The innovative curriculum at STEAM gives students an individualized learning experience while engaging them in the community. The school is located on East Sixth Street, where it’s been since it opened in 2013.
Murphy and Penrose won the contest and will install their mural during PRHBTN. They’re still waiting for their final design to be finished and approved, but the concept will be a collage of what the school stands for.
STEAM Academy is focused on creating next generation learners through project based learning. Through a partnership with the University of Kentucky, students take high school classes while earning college credit through courses taught by university faculty and students.
“This project has the benefit of being art, but it also benefits as an expression of the goals of the people who will appreciate it.” Murphy continues, “This mural will become an expression of STEAM and who they are.”
While street art is often criminalized and under-appreciated, the PRHBTN festival celebrates it. It brings together art lovers of all kinds through installation of public art and a free art show featuring local and regional artists.
Murphy and Penrose created Fowl County about a year ago when they noticed that many galleries feature the same people and the same style of work. The motivation behind Fowl County is to showcase unknown artists to the public through galleries and events without taking any cuts from artists sales.
“Fowl County is a coalition of artists trying to bring more art events, shows and galleries to the local area while showcasing artists who may not have been seen before or have access to traditional art spaces,” says Penrose.
In the past, both Murphy and Penrose have been involved with PRHBTN, but this will be their first year painting a mural as part of the festival.
“We have the opportunity to work with students directly on this project and make art that is readily available,” says Penrose. “Art in any form serves a purpose. It matters.”
The sixth annual PRHBTN is October 8-15, 2016.
This article appears on pages 5 of the September 2016 print issue of Ace.
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