For Covington residents, the mural located on the corner of Fourth and Scott streets is now an iconic cityscape feature. But it began in 2010 with single grey-hued dog painted by collaborative street art group The London Police. They returned in 2016 to expand the mural across the building's entire side and add a series of their bobble-headed lads illustrations. (Now, townhomes inhabit the block.)
The impetus for the mural can be traced back to Mike Amann, the founder of Covington design agency BLDG who died in 2013 at the age of 33 from colon cancer. Amann was an avid lover of urban and public art and wanted to bring murals across the state of Kentucky. The dog depicted on the wall at Fourth and Scott — donning a space helmet and backdropped in blue — was his own pup, Juno.
Phase two of the project served as a tribute to Amann, whose portrait gives a thumbs up as he rests inside his dog's chest — which doubles as a space shuttle. "Pennies from Heaven" were also added, aka the funky smiling lads leaving Juno's belly via conveyor belt. A pastel rosy sun peeks up at the corner, rising eternally above the streets of Covington.
Now, thanks to Urban Blooms, the mural is entering a third, living stage: the bottom of the wall is bordered by real plants. Lily Turner, Urban Blooms' director of operations, says they got involved when The London Police decided they wanted to incorporate plants in the mural landscape for the creatures to seemingly land on. To her, the installation is extraordinary not only because of the juxtaposition between the lush greenery that lines the bottom of the mural — fabricated by what Turner calls a custom system that agrees with the curves of the mural — but also because its intent is to challenge urban planners and local government.
"Challenge them to rethink the design of our public spaces, go against convention and inspire to create an identity for our communities," she says in an email. "The Greater Cincinnati area is in desperate need of this."
The concept of a living mural, she adds, has only been done in one other application in the country that they found.
You might also notice the work of The London Police scattered across other bits of Northern Kentucky. Before Amann's passing in 2013, the BLDG crew invited the group back to decorate the streets of Greater Covington. Creatures peek from street corners; one happily carries a mug of coffee, another pours booze into a puddle as heads bob upward.
But the main mural is the focal point; made up not only of paint but also strokes of life, memory and legacy.