While art galleries might be closed right now, there are still safe ways to see art in Lexington. A street-art festival is working on a new project to contribute to the collection of murals downtown. WRFL spoke with PRHBTN co-founder John Winters to discuss what PRHBTN is and how its mission is being implemented during this uncertain time.
What is PRHBTN?
Prohibition is an annual street art festival that started in 2011. We normally- when the world is not shut down- bring in national and international artists to paint large scale murals in Lexington and then we complement that with a local and regional art gallery show.
How long has PRHBTN been a functioning organization?
This year is actually our 10th anniversary. There’s actually just two of us— it’s my wife and me. It’s a funny story how it all started. My wife, well girlfriend at the time, called me while she was travelling for business and asked me which movie she should watch. I suggested that she watch “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which is a film about graffiti and all of that stuff. So, she called me after she watched it and said, “We should have a street are festival!” I was like “OK.” That’s how we started it. We just jumped into it; we don’t have art backgrounds, but we just wanted to do it because we felt like a lot of street artists in the area were being shut out of regular art galleries.
What is the mission of PRBHTN?
It’s really about showcasing original art and things that don’t really fit into art galleries. It’s stuff that people don’t really expect to fit into art in the abstract.
Tell me about the project that is being finished today in downtown Lexington.
I think like everyone else, we are spending a lot of time at home and it has really slowed us down. We tend to be pretty on-the-go type people and this has given us some time to sit and figure out what we want to do. I started talking with some of my artist friends about what we should do with our street show this fall. We thought about it and said, we should so something now. We have teamed up with SquarePegs Studio and Design and they really jumped on board with the idea. We kicked around a whole bunch of ideas and over the course of a month with lots of different themes and ideas, we wanted to come up with something that was relevant right now with the understanding that once we get through this, it will be a message that will keep having a relevance going forward. “Together We Are Stronger” was what we finally came up with because of how universal and uniting it is.
How did you decide on the location for the “Together We Are Stronger” piece?
Once we came up with it, we needed to go find a wall. The guys at A Cup of Commonwealth are good friends and have supported PRHBTN ever since it began so they immediately said that they wanted us to do it there. We were really lucky to work with them because they were immediately on board.
When is the street festival usually planned for?
Normally our street festival runs in October every year. We usually start the first couple weeks of October and we have a ton of artists that come into Lexington and paint murals throughout the entire month and at the end of the month we have a big opening at the Loudoun House, but where we are right now we are worried with are artists going to be able to travel? Will we be able to have a gallery? How will we get enough spray paint? So now it is all in the air for now, so we will see.
Is there anything else you want to share with the community?
We would really like to highlight the fact that there will be t-shirts available on Kentucky For Kentucky and the proceeds are going to the Bluegrass Community Foundation who is doing some really great work running a coronavirus relief-fund for musicians and artists that have been impacted. We are really just trying to give back in anyway possible.
Winters said that he hopes life will get back to normal soon so PRHBTN can continue serving Lexington with its street-art. For more information on PRHBTN, visit their website.
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