Downtown Somerset's newest mural is complete, a partnership forged between the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) and four local groups to celebrate the area's rich history in the arts, its cultural connection to the railroad industry and its strong agricultural heritage.
Designed and painted by local artist Jordan Justice, the new mural shines on the side of the old Food Fair building on East Mount Vernon Street facing the Lake Cumberland Farmers Market. Sunbeams burst from the horizon over a Burnett Farms field, with a Norfolk Southern train running through the land and a houseboat cruising Lake Cumberland in the background. A bouquet of summer flowers lines one side of the mural, introducing visitors to the entrance of Be You Boutique, which will open soon inside the building.
SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said he could not be happier with the finished product, the culmination of another effort to enhance quality of life in the community by building a thriving downtown and promoting outdoor recreation.
"With this mural, we celebrate our story -- paying tribute to our long history of excellence in the agriculture and railroad industries," Girdler said. "Jordan's work is absolutely extraordinary and is the perfect visual representation of our heritage and our story for people visiting Somerset and for those of us who call it home."
SPEDA partnered with Phoenix Wellness to apply for a grant from Norfolk Southern Railroad to help fund the mural. Burnett Farms and Be You Boutique also contributed to the effort, which took two weeks for Justice to complete.
Originally from eastern Kentucky, Justice has called Somerset home for 12 years. His artwork is familiar to downtown -- his first mural here can be seen on the side of the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce building and is visible from the one he just completed for SPEDA.
Justice's airbrushing journey began when he attended Somerset Community College's aviation program. He painted his first mural in the break room of Summit Aviation in Somerset in 2009 during his employment there -- since that time, he has painted scenes in baptisteries, masonic lodges and has completed large outdoor murals in Pikeville and Somerset.
Justice said the outpouring of support from the community while he worked on the mural was incredible. In videos of the mural's progress that can be viewed on his Facebook and Instagram profiles (@jordanjusticeart), he talks about how many people stopped to offer him water, food, ice cream, and to simply offer their appreciation for his work.
"Twelve years ago, downtown Somerset seemed kind of lonely and bare, but it's amazing what the city has done to liven up the downtown area in such a short period of time," Justice said. "It's like our little town has gotten a complete facelift and I have felt so grateful to have the opportunity to take part in beautifying our city."