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The Legacy Trail will be a place for the community to learn about its culture, environment and heritage; various kinds of art along the trail contribute to that goal. The shared use trail connects downtown Lexington to the Kentucky Horse Park.

arrowDownload Legacy Trail Public Art Master Plan (pdf 2.9 mb)

arrowDownload Lexington Fayette Urban County's Legacy Trail Feasibility Study (pdf 1.1 mb)


Art is featured along Legacy Trail in Lexington, KY

Authors: Todd W. Bressi, Urban Design • Place Planning • Public Art; and Stacy Levy, Artist (

Following are excerpts from the Public Art Master Plan for the Legacy Trail. This vision for public art was part of the preparation of a feasibility study by Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government to evaluate and determine the optimum trail alignment and development of the design vernacular.


Why Art Along the Trail?

From the beginning, Lexington has understood that a trail like this can offer the community a wide range of benefits. It can make nature part of everyday life for every Lexington resident, and give everyone access to the unparalleled beauty of this countryside. It can help people improve their health by walking and biking more. It can be an important asset for drawing young professionals, retirees and the kinds of businesses that follow. By strengthening connections between residents and the countryside, it could strengthen support for efforts to preserve open space.

photo of lines drawn on paved trail

"streamlines" are a way of creating art on the dull
expanse of a paved trail surface

All along, though, one idea has stood out: the trail will be a place for the community to learn about its culture, environment and heritage. As people pass through this landscape, its features, history and processes should be elucidated by the artworks sited along the trail. As planning for the public art began, another powerful reason emerged. Lexington is looking for opportunities to integrate the work of artists, particularly those from the Bluegrass region, into its public realm.

The trail planners had to look no further than Louisville, Chattanooga, or Indianapolis to find examples of projects and approaches that inspired them. The trail, as an important civic space, could also be Lexington’s next frontier in exploring art in the public realm, and for exploring the potential of a broader public art initiative.

A Vision for Public Art Along the Legacy Trail

Art along the Legacy Trail will reveal the trail’s presence in the landscape; explore the community’s culture, history and environmental character; and provide opportunities for artists in the Bluegrass and beyond to explore how their work can interact with this unique landscape. Art along the Legacy Trail will be evolving, consisting largely of original works that result from creative exploration and dialogue about art, community and landscape.

This plan for art along the Legacy Trail is being developed at a propitious moment, when the sense of possibility for art in the landscape is broader and more encompassing than ever. The plan comes at a time when the Lexington community is awakening to the possibilities of incorporating art into all aspects of its public realm; of listening to new ideas and taking risks; and of forming new decision making entities, as is evidenced by the rapid formation of and cooperation within the Consortium itself. In that sense, the art along the trail is a demonstration project, a chance to explore how the community’s civic and cultural leadership can organize itself to advance new ideas. Already, the trail project, its goal of stimulating artworks that connect people to culture, history and environment; and its inclusion of students have resulted in the issuance of a Commonwealth Collaborative Grant from the University of Kentucky.

Finally, the plan embodies a fundamental interest the community has for art along the trail – to give Bluegrass artists an opportunity to develop artworks for the public realm, and to ask artists to bring their insights to the challenge of revealing the community’s culture, history and environmental character.

photo of art on street

Artful road crossings in pavement

Projects for the Legacy Trail

This section outlines a range of public art projects that the Legacy Trail Public Art Consortium can implement along the trail. The plan divides the projects into three “layers” that are characterized by time— projects to start immediately, projects to begin organizing for next year, and projects to do later when opportunities arise.

Goals are to:

• Make the trail into a continuous ribbon of experience by inserting art elements that appear in every segment.

• Make trail visible to passersby.

• Incorporate narratives of sites along the trail.

• Involve local and regional artists, in an evolving and renewable format.


Some examples of the types of artworks and opportunities for placement along the trail:


• Vertical path markers make trail visible in the landscape
• Located on highly visible knolls, rises, junctions
• Clusters of 3-5 poles, 25 feet tall, permanently sited in the ground
• Renewable flags designed by artists as cluster units will be created and installed on the poles

Pavement Tapis

• Elliptical forms on the path surface.
• Artists will paint two-dimensional artworks with epoxy acrylic paint manufactured for asphalt.
• Placed along the path to respond to local narratives.
• Some sites are locations for future, permanent three-dimensional or environmenal artworks in a future phase.

photo of big rocks along river's edge

Artistic placement of Natural boulders creates a place of interest
for gathering along Chattanooga's Tennessee River Greenway
(photo by Stuart Macdonald, Nov. 2010)


• Artful road crossings in pavement.
• Artist-designed Streetprint and Duratherm permanent markings at intersections where trail crosses roads and where trail direction is confusing.

Garden Rooms

• Places where art and landscape come together
• Pausing places for trail users
• Places where narratives can be explored in depth

Gathering Places

• Pausing places for trail users
• Permanent places for people to come together
• Story telling, outdoor classrooms
• Places where narratives can be explored through materials, color, form


• Make existing structures trail amenities
• Turn ordinary infrastructure into a unique experience
• Tunnel: the Legacy Trail passes under I-64 and I-75 through a one-lane tunnel that is shared with vehicular traffic. At each entrance, the tunnel will be approached from a 90 -degree turn. An art installation here, either on the outside faces of the tunnel or on the interior surface, could make this tunnel a point of interest, potentially even a destination.


• These trailheads will be important functional and symbolic places along the trail, because they provide public access, because they are places where trail users will be likely to meet and dwell, and because they will become synonymous with the trail’s visual identity.
• Site-specific artworks that mark each trailhead
• Create a sense of welcome and discovery


The Legacy Trail Public Art Master Plan envisions a bold, long-term commitment to public art along the trail — focused through a pragmatic strategy of incrementally adding artworks as an understanding of the landscape and trail use mature, and as resources become available. The hope is that this effort, coupled with efforts underway elsewhere in Lexington, can ultimately inspire a broader public art initiative in Lexington–Fayette County.

photo of tunnel with lights in pattern

Lights create a stunning effect in a trail tunnel


The Consortium must clearly establish its authority for planning and implementing art projects and exhibitions along the trail, and it must establish internal processes for setting policy, making commitments and maintaining oversight. It must address questions such as:
How does the Consortium’s sponsorship and oversight of art along the trail relate to LFUCG’s management of the trail and UCARB’s oversight of public art in general?
What should the Consortium’s composition be?
How will the Consortium make decisions?
How does the Consortium assign responsibility, and monitor what gets done?
How does the Consortium maintain relationships with Lexington–Fayette Urban County Government, the arts community and civic leadership?
Who makes decisions about what artworks are placed along the trail?


The Consortium must draw on professional resources and expertise to carry out its work on a day-to-day basis. It must address questions such as:
Who will manage art projects?
Who will lead the planning for the next round of projects, and raise money for them?
Who will maintain professional, civic and community connections?
Who will oversee events, such as community paint days and dedications?
Who will develop the community education tools that further the Consortium’s mission?


The Consortium must determine who will take responsibility for the work it commissions, since it is not an incorporated entity. It must address questions such as:
Who will be the owner of record for the permanent art, temporary art and art infrastructure?
Where will the project documentation be kept?
Who will be responsible for maintenance and conservation?

For more information:

• Steve Austin or Beth Willmott at 859-225-3343 or or

• City of Lexington Legacy Trail Project:

• Todd W. Bressi, Urban Design • Place Planning • Public Art -

• Stacy Levy, Artist -

photo of boy with huge black orb

"Cloud stones" reflect the sky in their polished surfaces (Artist: Stacy Levy - Mineral Springs Park, Seattle WA)


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