The German artist duo known as Herakut (she’s “Hera;” he’s “Akut”) has taken on a five-day residency in Lexington to create large-scale public art pieces on two downtown walls. They plan to finish a mural on the south-facing wall of the building located at 156 Market St. Thursday morning and begin a second piece on the wall of the building at North Limestone and Sixth Street that formerly housed Spalding’s Bakery. The pieces are the first installments of a special children’s book project that the duo is working on, which centers around a young female character named Lily.
“We named her after the symbol for purity and innocence,” Hera said. “She’s going to be a very pure and honest little person – that’s why she looks so stubborn.”
Hera said the team is “excited to have the first mural for this book in Lexington.”
“This is going to be the first real page for the book,” she said.
The artists were invited to create work in Lexington by local community organizers and Transylvania professors Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, who are active supporters of public art and community engagement. Herakut first entered their radar when they encountered and were inspired by a handful of the duo’s murals during a trip to Los Angeles for a photography project last year; Gohde and Todorova tried various avenues to reach out to the artists over the course of a year before receiving an unexpected e-mail from Hera about a month ago saying that they were working on a project and wanted to come to Lexington Sept. 10-15.
Within three weeks, Gohde and Todorova were able to pull together more than 15 individuals, businesses and foundations to raise enough money to pay for Herakut’s flights, hospitality and materials, and to find six or seven potential walls for the duo to choose from. They ultimately chose the Market Street location, Hera said, in part because of the open background, which was different from many of the more developed areas they have painted; they were also attracted to the view of the steeple of Christ Church Cathedral, which juts overhead in the view of the mural.
Throughout the week, the artists have drawn a steady audience, taking breaks to answer questions and talk to students from University of Kentucky, Transylvania University and Sayre. Hera said they have been very impressed with the community, which has showered them with gifts of cookies, food and beer.
“There’s so much heart in this city,” she said. “It has a size where everyone feels like they need to be good neighbors. People seem to know each other and everyone’s communicating – that goes a long way.”
David Lawyer, who owns the Market Street building, has been a longtime proponent of public art in Lexington.