A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Covington’s ‘Living Mural’ is among the first in the country — world class art with vertical greenspace

Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have many murals and several living walls, but Covington now has the Midwest’s first outdoor Living Mural.

The brainchild of Mike Amann, one of the pioneering advocates for street art in the Northern Kentucky river cities, the mural at 4th and Scott Streets is the stunning combination of world-class art with a vertical greenspace. In fact, the mural, by an international artist group called The London Police, was created as a memorial to Mike, who is painted peeking out of the dog/spaceship.

The Living Mural is on the north wall of the Boone Block building, which was recently redeveloped into upscale townhomes. When the mural was completed in 2016, the artists planned ahead and left the bottom section a solid green color for the living wall installation. Urban Blooms, a local company specializing in living walls, has now realized the full design by installing a custom-fabricated planting system.

Tyler Wolf, Executive Director of Urban Blooms, explains the plant selections, saying “The goal was to provide the community with an attractive, year-round installation that changed with the seasons, featuring a mixture of evergreens, grasses, perennial flowers, and herbs.”

With the advent of spring, the flowers will be blooming and the foliage filling in, making Joy Amann, a realtor for the Boone Block and Mike’s mother, very happy.

“The most exciting part is that the initiative could become a  prototype to combine public art within the context of a ‘vertical park’ to engage and benefit the whole community,” Wolf says.

She calls the project “epic and cosmic” and points out that the location is already a popular site for photos, tour stops and academic field trips.

The Living Mural was made possible through a partnership led by the Catalytic Fund including Orleans Development, Project Reinvest, the Boone Block Homeowner’s Association, Urban Blooms, The London Police and BLDG.

The developer of Boone Block was Tony Kreutzjans, owner of Orleans Development. He has done many projects in Northern Kentucky’s urban core and says he is “accustomed to small sites in urban development, so a lush landscape is often overlooked. The living mural was a great solution to soften the area without taking up valuable real estate.”

Murals are often used throughout the region to transform blank walls into giant art canvasses that beautify the community and ignite public engagement. Living walls are becoming popular because they soften the hard surfaces of a city neighborhood, suppress noise, reduce the “heat island” effect, and improve air quality.

The pairing of mural and plantings seems a natural next step for urban environments, with Covington leading the way.

The Catalytic Fund is a private sector, not-for-profit organization that provides financing assistance and related services for developers of quality residential and commercial real estate projects in Northern Kentucky’s urban cities of Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, and Dayton.

Its mission is to accelerate Northern Kentucky’s urban renaissance through targeted investments in catalytic real estate development projects in urban neighborhoods.

The Catalytic Fund

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