Have you seen Art Alley and the beautiful murals popping up around downtown Ashland, Kentucky? These citizen- funded paintings and murals have brought color and life to the alleys between 15th and 16th Street. Most of the newer murals, completed in late 2020, provide a great backdrop for social media posts and tourists to explore. It has become a popular photography location for proms, homecomings, senior pictures, selfies and more! 

The idea for Art Alley and the murals originated from AKY Urban Art Projects – a group of creatives coming together and seeking to help revitalize our city through creative ideas. Many different artists and companies contribute, providing a diverse array of styles and colors. 

AKY Urban Art Projects was birthed out of Build Ashland – a group of volunteers who seek to increase communication between citizens and the city, as well as provide positivity and encourage our community to become involved. 

When asked what inspired this group of people to begin, Build Ashland head project leader Dave Daniel explained, “Lyndi Lowman, Grace Dixon, and myself started discussing offline ways we could help get ideas into reality. We decided to start a group called AKY Urban Art Projects and share our ideas with the community. We received immediate support. We spoke with local artists as well as some from Cincinnati and Lexington. Once we got prices for the project and support from many local business owners to help with costs, we asked for donations for the project through Facebook.” 

As the donations started coming in from citizens, it was more than Daniel and his crew had asked for. “It was inspiring to see so many people willing to bring art and life downtown.” 

Using the extra funds, Daniel and his Build Ashland group were able to collaborate with SquarePegs Studio and Design, finishing the first mural titled “You Look Good in Ashland” behind the Delta Hotel. “The project was such a success and with the surplus in donations from the first mural, we knew we had to keep going,” said Daniel. 

This is where the idea for Art Alley took off. Daniel says they continued to work with Paul Castle, owner of Crescent Moon Properties, who owned some buildings throughout the alley. Then, they began contacting more artists to get involved. The idea was to spread love and joy with an urban art feel. Build Ashland volunteers were also cognizant that the murals would attract and inspire visitors to take photos and share them on social media. Sharing the photos of Ashland’s Art Alley would help spread the word of the new revitalization efforts and the city’s economic growth. 

Castle provided the “canvases” for these murals and is passionate about bringing new life and creativity to the city. He expressed his gratitude to every business and citizen that has contributed to the Art Alley project. “It’s nice seeing people being part of the solution, not the negativity or the problem,” Castle added. 

Since the murals have gone up downtown, the idea of attracting locals as well as tourists has come to fruition. One cannot open Instagram or Facebook without seeing photos of both young and old posing in front of one of the many art displays. As different groups continue to inspire more art murals to pop up on walls throughout our area, Art Alley and the other sporadic mural paintings situated about downtown Ashland continue to bring inspiration to the citizens of our proud town and keep hope alive. 

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