Finalists Announced for Oliver Lewis Way Bridge Public Art Project

Lexington, KY – LexArts Inc., in association with 2nd District Council Member Shevawn Akers and the LFUCG Corridors Commission, earlier this year issued a call to artists for the creation of public art that enhances the Oliver Lewis Way Bridge, located just south of the intersection of Main Street and Newtown Pike. The call resulted in over 100 submissions from across the United States, Canada and Europe.

After thorough review by a selection committee comprised of artists, arts professionals and community leaders, and including public input, three finalists have been identified and commissioned to create site-specific proposals. The finalists are: Blessing Hancock, Tuscon, AZ; Guy Kemper, Lexington, KY; and Christopher Weed, Colorado Springs, CO.

The proposals will be on display for public discussion at ArtsPlace beginning January 16, the inaugural Gallery Hop of 2015, and will remain on exhibit through the end of January. A review of the final designs, along with the public’s input, will be conducted by the selection committee and one artist or artist team will be selected to realize their proposal.

The budget for the project is $100,000, making this one of the largest public art projects the city of Lexington has ever commissioned. While the timeline for completion will not be known until the selection of the winning design, the hope remains that Lexington’s newest public art project will be unveiled and dedicated by October 30, 2015 when Keeneland and the city of Lexington will host the Breeder’s Cup World Championships, one of Throughbred racing’s most prestigious international events.

The Oliver Lewis Way bridge carries State Highway 922 across Town Branch Creek and over active railroad tracks that belong to RJ Corman, Lexington’s local short line railroad company. The location of the bridge is at the edge of the historic bourbon distillery district and would be a permanent feature within the proposed 46 acre Rupp Arena, Arts and Entertainment district. Open for traffic since 2010, the bridge was constructed with future public art in mind — the pillars were constructed to support the additional weight of sculptural or other physical pieces and were outfitted with additional electric capacity.

“The Oliver Lewis Way Bridge will transform the western gateway into Lexington into an artful and welcoming space,” said LexArts President and CEO Nan Plummer. ” It is very exciting and important that the public will take part in the selection process. We hope that many, many people share their opinions on the site-specific proposals, which will be on display at ArtsPlace for the January 16th Gallery Hop and the following two weeks.”

“Newtown Pike is a primary gateway to Lexington and our downtown,” continued 2nd District Council Member Shevawn Akers. “Each finalist brings unique talents, bodies of work and perspectives that will inspire both residents and visitors. I can’t wait to see what these three artists envision for beautifying this important corridor.”

Because of an adjacent property ownership, local architecture firm POHL ROSA POHL became engaged as a stakeholder in the bridge project. A long-prominent voice for design excellence, POHL ROSA POHL was invited to participate in the design process and contributed significant volunteer time and energy to the project, becoming the primary advocates for the bridge as public art.

Clive Pohl, Principal with Pohl Rosa Pohl, observed, “The Oliver Lewis Way Bridge was conceived as something special. However, getting it beyond the mundane, to be an expressive sponsor of public art, took countless hours by paid professionals and visionary volunteers. I am very excited by the prospect that, at last, prominent sculpture will complete the composition to create the artful gateway that Lexington so deserves. Another crowning achievement for our great community and LexArts.”