For Butchertown residents and business owners, a newly-completed Story Avenue mural isn’t just for decoration — it’s a way to get people to stop and take notice of a neighborhood that’s been steadily transitioning for the past several years.
“Butchertown, we feel, is really turning a corner,” says Nick Johnson, president of the Butchertown Neighborhood Association. “In the past it’s been a bit of a forgotten, maybe neglected, neighborhood — a little abused and unloved. But with new development, more people want to live here and be part of it.”
This development is alluded to in the 5,000 square-foot mural, which was commissioned by JBS Louisville Pork Plant and created by artists Tara Remington and Aron Conaway. From design to completion, the project took about two years.
The mural is called “The Story on Story Avenue” and features eclectic images gleaned from historical and present-day photos of Butchertown activities, people and landmarks. There are references to Thomas Edison, the meatpacking tradition, the 1937 flood, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the Wesley House, and modern-day additions to the neighborhood such as the Extreme Park.
Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith says the mural is a way to encourage people to treat Butchertown as a destination rather than just a passageway from Clifton to the rest of downtown.
“Butchertown is a great example of what we like to call a ‘connector neighborhood,’ because it connects one neighborhood to another very easily and there is a lot of traffic that comes through here,” she says.
And that traffic, says Sexton Smith, could translate into dollars for area businesses.
“Because I truly believe public art drives commerce,” she says.
Andy Blieden is a developer in the Butchertown neighborhood. Blieden is owner of the Butchertown Market and several buildings nearby on East Main Street called the Butcher Block (all of which feature their own public art projects). Blieden also serves as president of the Butchertown Business Alliance, a nonprofit organization promoting neighborhood projects and businesses.
“Before we had the mural painted, it was just basically two blank walls,” Blieden says. “So it was nothing, it was at best a negative, because the building’s not particularly great to look at.”
He continues: “So what’s amazing to me is how much the energy changes when you take a couple blank walls and put a really cool piece of art on it.”