AHB approves Danville’s first painted mural as public art

Published 8:47 am Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Design as art

The Danville Architectural Heritage Board approved the city’s first mural in the downtown historic district last week, following a discussion of what the AHB considers art, logos and signage.

The approval was possible because of the AHB’s new guidelines, which relaxes rules governing sign size and allows it to OK public art such as murals on the sides of buildings.

The south side of Sherwin-Williams Paints on North Fourth Street could host a wall mural. The AHB will consider in January whether to approve the project, which could become the first formally approved public art project under Danville’s new downtown design guidelines. (Ben Kleppinger/ben.kleppinger@amnews.com)

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During a special called meeting Friday morning, the board approved a certificate of appropriateness for the Community Arts Center to create a painted mural on the Sherwin Williams building, 111 North Fourth St., on the wall facing the CAC parking lot.

Kate Snyder, CAC director of marketing and development, told the board the design was inspired by a grassroots movement growing from within the Danville arts community.

Speaking about the mural’s circular design which includes the words “Art Local Danville, KY” Snyder said, “The ‘Art Local’ concept is a cultural value statement. This piece of art that will go on the wall is something that will reflect Danville’s value of the arts, that Danville as a city is leaning into its arts identity in terms of tourism.”

Snyder said the town’s arts scene has been working “to embrace its identity of an arts destination.”

She said Danville has Pioneer Playhouse, the Arts Commission of Danville/Boyle County, the Community Arts Center, Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts and West T. Hill Community Theatre, which “is why we are designated as one of only seven creative districts for the state of Kentucky — the whole state.”

“This was just our attempt to kind of put some of that into visual representation,” Snyder said. “To put it on the wall and say, ‘this is part of who Danville is.'”

AHB member Julie Wagner asked if the CAC planned to incorporate language about “shop local, art local, buy local” on other murals.

Snyder replied the CAC does not intend to use the same design for any other murals. “It is just to give the board a concept of what our focus was really on — art.”

Wagner said she was grateful to the CAC for “paving the way” and becoming the first official test case for the AHB’s new guidelines for public art.

“I love the idea of a mural,” Wagner said. “I’m not crazy about this design.”

Wagner said, “It seems to be more representative of a sticker or a logo. But I love the idea of a mural … I want a mural. I think we all want a mural.”

AHB chair Tom Tye asked if the design “for this logo — and I hesitate to call this a logo — but would the design be used … in other places?”

“Yes, absolutely,” Snyder said. The CAC already used the design its holiday market poster this past November and December.

Snyder said the Art Local idea has been discussed with the Arts Commission and several other art entities that want to “pick it up as a thing that we kind of use to tag local art projects.”

Later in the discussion, Tye asked Dana Dixon, whom he called the AHB’s “graphics person,” if she had any concerns about “this being a sign versus art.”

Dixon responded, “Not at all.”

After the AHB officially declared the design as art, Wagner said, “This mural represents the value statement of art. Therefore I consider it not a sign.”

Community Arts Center executive director Niki Kinkade, left, and Kate Snyder, CAC director of marketing and development, show they are happy following Danville’s Architectural Heritage Board of Directors approval a certificate of appropriateness for the organization to install a mural.

Following approval of the certificate of appropriateness, Mimi Becker, executive director of the Arts Commission, asked to speak to the board and representatives of the CAC (Executive Director Niki Kinkade and Creative Director Brandon Long) to clarify the design’s availability to other art groups.

Becker asked who would own the design of a piece of art — specifically the Art Local design — once it becomes public art.

Snyder said the design of any mural or public artwork will be owned by the artist — in this case, Brandon Long and the CAC.

Becker asked, “When Niki talked with us several months ago, the Art Local design was going to be available for a variety of entities to use. So now, is that going to still be the case?”

Snyder said yes.

“The idea of that artistic design … is the property of the CAC, but not the words. The plan was that everyone could use it. That specific design — we hope lots of people use it.”

Other discussions about the mural concerned the project’s maintenance.

Snyder said the process of having the AHB approve a mural was new to everyone. She said in the past, the CAC only installed temporary murals on windows that lasted a few months before they came down.

Now, with a more permanent mural, the CAC is agreeing to ensure the mural will be regularly inspected and touched up when necessary.

Snyder said the CAC expects the mural to last at least five years. “At the conclusion of the five-year point, if it seems like everyone’s in agreement that if it’s kind of run its course, the wall can easily be repainted.”

In an interview following the board’s approval, Snyder said the design won’t be painted until spring.

She said the the Art Local design will be shared with all the arts partners in Boyle County, including schools and theaters.

Snyder said the CAC is now developing general dimensions and font standards for the graphic, in order to “maintain the integrity of the design” and make sure the image “looks visually the same to the consumer” wherever it appears.

Snyder said the mural image is promoting a value and a concept and isn’t advertising a specific business or service.

“It’s to advertise the fact that Danville loves art,” Snyder said. “We’re hoping others will use it.”

She said it will also be possible for other downtown businesses to use the design, perhaps as a vinyl decal inside their business using whatever color they deem best. “That’s totally cool.”

“The exciting part will be to see other artists use the guidelines for their own murals,” Snyder said.