Share via:

Lexington has become a mecca for muralists from around the country in recent years, thanks in part to PRHBTN. Spearheaded by the husband-and-wife team of John and Jessica Winters, the organization – whose name refers to the historically contentious relationship between street artists, their “prohibited” art, their venues, and the public – has facilitated the creation of more than forty vibrant murals here, including five new ones in the “Murals Month” of October.

The new quintet includes Gaia’s “The Mother of Us All,” a tribute to the local legend Sweet Evening Breeze (aka James Herndon, 1892-1983), a crossdressing hospital orderly who served as a matriarch of the Lexington drag scene for decades. The largest of the mural’s several images of “Sweets” is based on an iconic 1979 photograph by the late John Ashley. The Faulkner Morgan Archive, the LGBTQ non-profit group that owns the photograph, held a pop-up exhibit at the site (161 N. Limestone Street), with visitors and passersby dropping in to watch Gaia work magic with cans of spray paint.

The other four murals are Joe King’s heroic “The Pythia in Agate” (Fourth and Jefferson Streets), which depicts the Oracle of Delphi in the throes of prophecy; Alexandrea Pangburn and Aerosol King’s “Till the Cows Come Home” (111 Mechanic Street), in which two young bulls seem to be getting married in a ceremony complete with flowers, rings, and ring-bearers; Patch Whisky’s “Untitled” (472 Southland Drive), with a young monster being distracted mid-tantrum by a rattle-wielding babysitter; and Key Detail’s “Friendship” (at Harrison Elementary School, 161 Bruce Street), about the harmonious relationship of a young woman and a fox. 

All photos by Kevin Nance.

“The Mother of Us All”

“The Mother of Us All” by Gaia, 161 N. Limestone Street. The image of Sweet Evening Breeze on the upper left of the mural is based on a 1979 photograph by the late John Ashley of “Sweets,” as she was also known, posing in her home in the Pralltown neighborhood with her collection of fine silver. The image at the center-right represents mid-century Lexington drag queens and/or crossdressers, a community over which “Sweets,” as she was also known, reigned serenely for decades. The image on the upper right is also based on a photograph, this of a very young Sweets reclining on a sofa in a wedding dress. 

Gaia, aka Andrew Tisacane, a New Yorker now based in Baltimore, poses in front of “The Mother of Us All.” “Sweets was a black trans person in that early context,” Gaia said in an interview. “I appreciated that her life hadn’t ended tragically, and that it was so full, and that she became so iconic, so proud, so unabashed.”

Gaia works on a section of “The Mother of Us All.”

Faulkner Morgan Archive director Jonathan Coleman with the John Ashley photograph that inspired part of “The Mother of Us All.” The Archive sponsored a pop-up exhibit during the mural’s installation.

“The Pythia in Agate”

“The Pythia in Agate,” by Joe King, at Fourth and Jefferson Streets. The mural depicts the high priestess of the Temple of Delphi in ancient Greece.

“The Pythia in Agate” (detail).

“Till the Cows Come Home”

“Till the Cows Come Home” by Alexandrea Pangburn and Aerosol King, 111 Mechanic Street.

“Till the Cows Come Home” (detail).

“Till the Cows Come Home” (detail).


Untitled by Patch Whisky, 472 Southland Drive.

Untitled (detail).


“Friendship” by Key Detail, Harrison Elementary School, 161 Bruce Street

“Friendship” (detail).

“Friendship” (detail). 

Kevin Nance
Kevin Nance
Kevin Nance is a freelance arts journalist, photographer, and poet in Lexington whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Poets & Writers Magazine and other publications. He's also the host of "Out & About in Kentucky," an LGBTQ newsmagazine show on RadioLex.
Current Exhibitions at KMACCurrent Exhibitions at KMAC