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How A New Mural In Portland Embodies A Neighborhood And Its Art

I’m standing on the corner of 15th and Rowan streets with artists Jeremy Lewis and Max Thomas as they pack up their spraypaint cans and a jug of cold brew coffee.

They’ve been working on their latest creation for four days straight -- “ever since the rain stopped Monday night,” Lewis says -- and already it’s prompted several drivers to slow down and shout compliments from their windows.

The mural on the side of this warehouse is a bright swirl of sunshine yellow, black and white paint. Running down one side is an Abraham Lincoln quote: “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Lewis and Thomas are half of the Louisville street art collective Often Seen, Rarely Spoken. They create murals all over the region, but they say they'd like to do more in neighborhoods like Portland -- which is something many of the business owners in the neighborhood support.

For example, this warehouse belongs to KFI Seating.

“They wanted their building painted,” Thomas says. “A lot of buildings in Portland are getting vandalized all the time.”

This mural also holds a hidden personal message. Around the corner of the warehouse, more yellow paint frames a man’s silhouette. The artists say it’s a memorial to a Louisville street artist who died last year.

They say they want to keep his identity anonymous because -- like their own work -- his street art was often seen, rarely spoken. Lewis says they think he’d prefer it this way.

“People who know, know who he is,” he says. “And if you want to find out, do your research.”

Which I did -- and while I’ll respect their wishes to keep his name anonymous, you really can see it (often) all over the city.

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