On October 14th and 15th, a dozen UK students and local artists picked up brushes and rollers and did something unheard of before: painted a mural on the exterior
of a University of Kentucky building. They were practicing techniques they learned in the Master Mural Class directed by Hitnes that CKAS helped arrange. But the mural painting almost didn't happen where it did. The day before the Mural Class was to take place, CKAS had arranged for Hitnes to give a talk at the UK Ecological Research and Education Center
entitled "When Art and Science Collide." Our goal was to have the talk, the class, and the resulting mural occur at and on that facility. But when we booked the talk, we had no idea how appropriate its title would be. The art of the mural and the science of the building almost didn't come together.
University of Kentucky officials were initially reluctant to allow painting on the outside
of a UK building, fearing there would be long-term upkeep costs associated with the project which UK was not willing to assume. Instead, they offered the class the option of painting the interior
lobby of the building or painting the community room where the talk took place. But when Hitnes was shown these interior spaces, he called them "more fresco than mural" and insisted that they were really not suitable for the class's purposes. He wanted to know if there was another wall -- a larger mural-sized exterior wall -- the class could use. Thus, less than a week before the Mural Class was to take place, it looked like the class-produced mural would need to be painted someplace other than the EREC/PIMSER facility.
A good deal of environmental and avian research takes place at the UK Ecological Research and Education Center, so CKAS really wanted the resulting Audubon bird-themed mural to be painted there. Additionally, a large number of local students, teachers, and community groups that use that building for meetings, workshops, and classes, so the mural would get a lot of notice. Everyone involved in planning the talk and class did not want to see the mural move to another building in another part of town.
Luckily, in the final hour, a compromise: UK agreed that Hitnes' and the class's mural could be painted on the exterior walls of the patio area located just behind the EREC/PIMSER building, which can be seen from the neighborhood and trails behind the facility and in part from the new library next door. Though it was not exactly the front-of-a-building mural we had hoped for, the chance to keep the mural on that faciolity -- to highlight the collision of art and science -- we had to take it! CKAS asked that UK trim the patio trees, which they did and did quickly, and we have agreed to protect the mural with graffiti-proofing, which will be guaranteed to last for ten years after we apply three coats (the first coat went up last week, just before Devil's night, just to be safe). Note: There are a couple of weather-dependent events scheduled on November 4th & December 5th to put up the extra graffiti coats if you would like to help.
In the end, the resulting bird-inspired mural is amazing. It is still difficult to comprehend that the whole work was conceived and completed within two days. We have had many people comment on how wonderful it turned out and there has been a lot of positive press covering the class and the artwork, including this UK video
. We're glad we could help arrange this for the students and for the University. If you haven't had the chance yet, it is very worth your while to stop by to see the work at the EREC/PIMSER: 1737 Russell Cave Road.