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Covington Mural Testament to Power of Public Art

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COVINGTON, Ky. – One of Covington’s most recognizable murals is going away, but not without leaving a lasting impact.

The colorful mural, an ArtWorks Cincinnati project titled “The Divine Proportion of All Things,” is located on the north wall of the Be Concerned, Inc. building at West Seventh Street and Washington Avenue. The building, and the mural, will be coming down to make way for the $60 million Duveneck Square redevelopment project.  

“It is my favorite mural and I’m sad to see it go but it is a perfect example of how public art can the catalyst for economic development and community revitalization,” Mayor Sherry Carran said.

During a presentation to Covington’s Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night, City staff, along with Renaissance Covington and Be Concerned, outlined the role the mural played in effecting change in downtown Covington.

Completed in 2010, the mural was facilitated by then-Covington arts director Natalie Bowers and Paul Gottbrath, director of Be Concerned. Bowers and Gottbrath, along with a coalition of supporters, submitted a request to ArtWorks hoping that the suggested mural location in Covington’s downtown core would bring new vitality the community.

The mural was successful in drawing attention and the parking lot below it began to serve as a location for events such as the City’s annual arts festival, Art Off Pike.

In 2013, a second mural was added on the east side of the parking lot by the Covington-based creative design firm, BLDG. BLDG, Renaissance Covington and the Center for Great Neighborhoods began to program regular events in the lot such as Food Truck Frenzies.

In 2014, Renaissance Covington and neighboring urban design firm MKSK partnered to turn the parking lot into the “Madlot,” a pop-up performance park. The City of Covington repaved the lot and community volunteers came together to paint the surface of the lot and add elements such as a stage and planters.

“The sheer scale of the mural and vibrancy of the colors added tremendously to the physical environment and showed the power of art in creating a sense of place,” said director of Renaissance Covington Katie Meyer. “The mural lot’s transformation into the ‘Madlot’ built on this and solidified the space as one for outdoor events, music and performance.”

Programming by community organizations continued with events like movie screenings, mini golf, theater performances and a summer music series. By mid-2015, Braxton Brewing Company had opened next door and a Red Bike station was installed at the site.

“Although the corner at Seventh and Washington was anchored by a few long-standing businesses, there was high vacancy and other signs of distress,” said assistant city manager for development Larisa Sims. “In the five years since the mural was added, that location has become a gathering place for the community and in turn drawn the attention of businesses and developers.”

Renaissance Covington is holding a “Farewell to the Phoenix” event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 7, named for the most prominent feature of the mural. In homage to the many wedding and engagement photos that have been taken with the mural as a background, free family portraits are being offered.

There will also be art activities for kids, music, food and mural prints signed by the artist available for sale.