Unexpected & Cool Street Murals in Lexington, Kentucky

July 2, 2019

collage of street murals in Lexington, Kentucky

Kentucky is a state that a lot of people don’t know much about.  But once people make it here, they usually love it.  It’s a special place, and my hometown of Lexington is extra special.  But what is there to do in Lexington, Kentucky?

One of the unexpected things to come out of me starting this blog was a new appreciation for Lexington.  We have incredible scenic beauty, an awesome food scene, and warm, friendly people.  But I was often at a loss for ideas when people asked me what there is to do here. 

Enter my little blog.  It’s forced me out of my rut and to explore new places and experiences here in Lexington.  And I’m finding that not only are there so many fun things to do in Lexington but many of them are free! One such experience was a Lexington Mural Walk I did with Visit Lex.

Lexington Street Art

Many of the murals in Lexington are commissioned pieces and Visit Lex works with PRHBTN on many of the murals.  There are many unknown pieces too which is pretty cool.  The murals are going up so quickly in Lexington it’s hard to keep up!  And where else can you find so many famous characters in one place including Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Harry Dean Stanton, Louis Armstrong, Loretta Lynn, George Clooney, and Man O’ War?

Visit Lex promotes tourism in Lexington and a visit to their space should be the first stop on any visitor’s trip.  The Lexington Visitor’s Center is located in the recently refurbished Historic Courthouse Square and it is STUNNING.  Not only can you see exhibits, learn through interactive screens, or pick up brochures about the many activities in Lexington, but the super helpful staff will answer any questions you have about activities in Lexington.

Historic Courthouse Building in Lexington, Kentucky

There has been a huge increase in street murals in Lexington in recent years.  But honestly, I had no idea how many we have now!  They are everywhere and the street art has made downtown Lexington an even more cool place to visit.

Visit Lex – Lexington Mural Tour

Visit Lex hosts walks through downtown to see many of the murals in the downtown area.  Our walk was a little shorter than normal due to the intense heat but there is street art at every turn so this post includes additional pieces not part of the official tour. 

Looking for the most instagrammable spots in Lexington?  This is for you!  And while this tour and post are highlighting some of the street art in downtown Lexington, there are murals popping up all over town including some amazing artwork in the trendy Distillery District.

Lexington Mural #1

My daughter from Sweet Southern Savannah went with me and our first stop was a mural right next to the lot we parked in.  I don’t have any details about the art but it is located on the side of The Phoenix Building just past Vine Street and South Limestone.  I love the bright colors.

Lexington Mural #2 – Tulip Poplar

Tulip Poplar street mural in Lexington, Kentucky

Next was a piece of street art on the Visit Lex tour and one of my favorites.  Tulip Poplar is painted in the stairwell of the Triangle Center Building and is on South Broadway between Short and Main Streets.  I love the tropical feel of the art and that it beautifying something as nondescript as a stairwell from a parking garage.  Painted in 2004, the artist is Lucy Hale who is a Kentucky native.

Lexington Mural #3 – Moonshine

Moonshine street mural in Lexington, Kentucky

Bonus mural!  As we were walking to our next stop, This colorful mural caught my eye.  It’s called Moonshine and is located on Short Street between Broadway and Mill.  Painted by How & Nosm, it’s one of those pieces you could spend some time taking in all of the detail.  Side note, I used to work in this building and stood in front of this wall several times during fire drills and I would have loved to have had this to look at back then!

Lexington Mural #4 – Man O’ War

Man O'War street mural in Lexington, Kentucky

The second mural on the tour was just around the corner and represents Lexington’s history of horses.  This one is located on Short Street and is painted on a building that houses the local restaurant The Village Idiot.  I appreciate that this one is done primarily in black and white and is true to the historic feel of downtown Lexington.  By Agustin Zarate, it was painted to commemorate the 100th birthday of Man O’ War.

Lexington Mural #5 – Lilly & the Silly Monkeys

Lilly & the Silly Monkeys street mural in Lexington, Kentucky

Next up, is a super interesting piece called Lilly and the Silly Monkeys and is painted on Belle’s Cocktail House on Market Street.  Painted in 2012 by German artists Hera and Akut (Herakut) it’s a piece of art that you need to spend some time looking at to take in all of its whimsy.  There is a sister mural, Where Dreams Come From, that can be found a little further north on North Limestone.

Lilly & the Silly Monkeys street mural in Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington Mural #6 – The Night Watchers

The Night Watchers street mural in Lexington, Kentucky

A couple of blocks over are two murals facing each other in the 100 block of West Short Street.  Painted by LA artist Andrew Hem in 2014, this piece probably generated the most discussion between my daughter and me.  I missed the Hello Kitty cameo but will have to look for it next time I’m downtown.

Lexington Mural #7 – Untitled

Untitled street mural in Lexington, Kentucky

Directly across from The Night Watchers was one of my favorites of the day. It is a recent addition to Lexington’s downtown murals and was painted by Australian artist, Fintan Magee in 2018.   I think we all can identify with the subjects in this piece, right?  I also love the colors and the scale.

Lexington Mural #8 – Daughter of Immigrants

Daughter of Immigrants street mural in Lexington, Kentucky

Last on the tour was this powerful piece of street art called Daughter of Immigrants by Jessica Sabogal.  It is located on the back of the 21C Museum just off of West Main Street.  I find this piece to be much simpler in shape and color than many pieces of street art but found I couldn’t stop staring at it.

Lexington Mural #9 – Lincoln

Lincoln street mural in Lexington, Kentucky

The Visit Lex tour ended here but I have one more to share and it’s a mural that I love.  Lincoln is a massive mural painted on the back of the Kentucky Theatre (which is a must-visit in Lexington).  Abraham Lincoln, a Kentucky native, is painted in a kaleidoscope by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra.  I parked in a parking lot in front of this mural as it was being painted and it was so exciting to see it take shape.  Really one of the defining pieces of street art in Lexington.

Want More Lexington Murals?

This article barely scratches the surface of the murals in Lexington.  One thing that struck as I was writing this is how many of the artists are from other countries.  I just love that all of these incredible artists are inspired to come here and leave a little piece of themselves in our city.

If street art is your thing, please go to Visit Lex in person or online where you found more information on murals and participate in the Lexington Mural Challenge.  Also, visit Fabulous in Fayette’s blog to read her fantastic 4-part series on the murals in Lexington. 

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More about Candy Wafford

Candy Wafford is a US-based travel blogger and while she travels frequently for her job, she is happiest when traveling for pleasure. Preferably strolling along a cobblestoned street with an ice cream cone in her hand.

    1. I have really come to appreciate street art, the more we’ve travelled. It’s such great talent for all to see. I wonder what past artists would say about it? kx

      1. That’s interesting to think about! I was in Rome on a tour and someone asked about the graffiti and the guide just shrugged and said it’s just part of modern living. That is stuck with me and I always think how street art is such a better alternative.

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