Public art helps drive away winter blues

Published 6:04 am Thursday, December 12, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

The leaves are gone from the trees, the sun is gone before 6 p.m. and heavy coats are required equipment most nights now in central Kentucky.

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Winter is the darkest, least colorful season. But downtown Danville still has some color to it — and not just because of the Christmas lights.

Thanks to the Architectural Heritage Board opening up the possibilities a couple years ago for art in the downtown historic district, Danville has four murals that add color and life to the area even on the coldest, darkest days.

On North Fourth Street, Danville’s “Art Local” stamp logo covers the side of the Sherwin Williams paint store.

On North Third Street, Andee Rudloff’s fun, cartoony celebration of all things Danville brightens what would otherwise be a blank wall facing a parking lot.

On North Second Street, there’s a warm and inviting mural of friends drinking tea, created by Dee Craig from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland — Danville’s sister city.

On South Second Street, you can see a mural by graffiti artist ARCY of legendary Danville figure Bunny Davis, hanging next door to the historic McDowell House.

All of these artworks were installed in 2018, so this is the second year visitors to downtown Danville have been able to enjoy them. We like how the murals call back to earlier times, when you might have seen a Coca-Cola or Pepsi logo painted on the side of a downtown brick building — but in a largely non-commercial way and using methods that do not harm the historical integrity of our downtown buildings.

Danville has a lot of history worth keeping that is stored in its buildings on and around Main Street. But our ability to preserve that history is limited if downtown doesn’t remain a vibrant, attractive place that brings in people and business. We have to use it or lose it.

These murals are one way we’re protecting the future of downtown. They help paint — pun intended — a picture for visitors of a fun, happy place to be, even when winter is at its worst.

We would like to see the trend of adding art downtown continue. We think there’s more space for more art. And the art that’s already up proves we can augment the beauty of an already beautiful downtown without harming its historical value.

We encourage downtown businesses and building owners to ponder this question: Is there a side of your building that could benefit from art?

The answer in many cases might be no, and that’s OK — we don’t think it would be a good idea to cover every building with art. But there could easily be two or three — or more — whose answer is yes. If you’re one of those yeses, take the initiative to reach out — to the local arts community, to the AHB — and offer up your space for art. If willing building owners can be paired with interested artists, we can add even more color to downtown Danville, and next winter can be even brighter.