PRHBTN brightens blank walls in Lexington

PRHBtN mural “Lincoln” by Eduardo Kobra, located on the back wall of the Kentucky Theater in Lexington, Ky., on Monday, April 20, 2015. Photo by Caleb Gregg | Staff

Megan Brown

If a picture paints a thousand words, then a mural paints a million. PRHBTN is an organization redefining the negative stigma associated with graffiti and street art. The organization was founded by John Winters and his wife Jessica seven years ago after they watched the movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” a documentary following the life of street artist Thierry Guetta.  

“It stands for prohibition without the vowels. We saw street art and graffiti as a prohibited art form that was being kept out of and wanted to change that,” John Winters said.

PRHBTN works solely in Lexington and is responsible for 18 murals around the city. Some of these include ‘Louis’ on Elm Street, ‘Turkey’ at the corner of Broadway and Main and ‘Moonshine’ on Short Street. 

According to Winters, the “My Name is Mo” mural in the Distillery District is one of their most controversial. However, he feels its edgy content captures the character of the area. Also, London-based street artist Phlegm’s untitled second mural at the corner of Short and Lime shows the ever changing nature of street art after his first mural was covered. 

Another one of these murals is the multi-colored Abraham Lincoln on the backside of The Kentucky Theater. Created by Eduardo Kobra, the mural marked a huge milestone for the organization as it was the first extensive project done on a public building. 

“It had opened the doors to bringing so many artists and exposing more and more citizens to global art,” Winters said. Winters also said that depending on the size of the mural, it can take anywhere from five days to a month to complete.

The process starts when PRHBTN gets permission from building owners to paint their walls. After that, artists can specifically choose which wall they think would be best. Sometimes artists work with interns or volunteers, but usually it is up to the artist on how they want to complete their mural. 

PRHBTN is a non-profit organization that not only works on assembling artists of all skill levels together, but also provides music entertainment at locations across Lexington. PRHBTN is funded entirely by sponsorships and donations, allowing them to hold commission free gallery shows that give artists the ability to keep all of the profits they make.   

“Every year we get to see amazing art brighten up blank walls in Lexington,” Winters said when he described the passion the organization has for sharing this art form with their city. 

Annually, PRHBTN hosts a show in October, which acts as a forum displaying this denounced art form. 2017 is the seventh year of the show and the event includes activities such as a gallery show, presentation of new murals and live music. The gallery show is in the Loudoun House and PRHBTN plans to add new murals all over the city. The full schedule of events will come out during the summer.