Area artists painting portraits of local innovators for public art display in Covington

Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton is a reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected]

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Local artists are painting murals at the Innovation Alley Portrait Gallery in Covington this week in order to pay homage to unheralded local innovators.

Thirteen local artists contributed to the public art gallery located in an alleyway on the side of a building on 114 W Pike St. in downtown Covington.

“Proven records show that public art helps with not only the vibrancy of the community, but also with business recruitment and attraction,” said Nick Wade, executive director of Renaissance Covington. “Public art is definitely a key contributor to quality of life.”

The Innovation Alley Portrait Gallery will be an interactive public exhibit, featuring QR codes observers can scan with their phones to get instant information about the historic figures featured in the paintings.

“We have a web platform that we’re using to help activate the art, where people can scan a QR code and interact with them,” Wade said. “It includes the bios about each of them.”

Renaissance Covington put out a Request for Proposal on Feb. 7 asking for local artists to help to paint the portraits. Wade said the artists could choose to paint innovators provided from a list by Renaissance Covington, or paint one of their own choosing. The Kenton County Public Library worked in collaboration with Renaissance Covington to put together a list of local innovators.

Wade and Renaissance Covington focused on highlighting local innovators who are perhaps unheralded in the public discourse.

“People who are exploring the innovators included in the gallery will find that not all of them are inventors, or have something to do with technology,” Wade said. “There are people included who have made significant strides from a social and cultural standpoint as well.”

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List of notable people featured in Innovation Alley Portrait Gallery

  • J. Robert Kelly and Albert Koett, early x-ray pioneers
  • James Randolph, African-American physician
  • Granville Woods, African-American inventor – telegraph patents
  • Sister Marie Lucie Damidio, education advocate in Appalachia
  • B.F. Howard, founder of U.S. Black Elks
  • Margaretta Baker Hunt, philanthropist
  • Alvin Poweleit, survivor of Bataan Death March in World War II, long time optometrist in Covington
  • Eula Bingham, scientist
  • Henrietta Cleveland, co-founder of St. Elizabeth
  • Haven Gillespie, songwriter
  • Eugenia Farmer, women’s rights advocate
  • Amos Shinkle, business owner and philanthropist
  • Alice T. Shimfessel, leader of the Civil Rights movement in Covington and Northern Kentucky

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