SPEDA, Lake Cumberland Tourism and the City of Somerset Tourism partner to showcase the community through the work of mural artist Jordan Justice
Water tanks and towers across Kentucky are becoming natural billboards for communities.
From murals proclaiming Lexington as the Horse Capital of the World and Lebanon the home of Maker’s Mark bourbon to the simple yet famous words “Florence, Y’all” on a tower in northern Kentucky, these large-scale projects create pride with residents and make an impression on visitors.
It is in this spirit that the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA), Lake Cumberland Tourism and the City of Somerset Tourism have come together to create a water tank billboard of their own — thanks to the help of Somerset artist Jordan Justice.
“I love the Horse Capital of the World water tower project in Lexington,” SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said. “It is a beautiful, eye-catching display that identifies that community for what it is. I wanted to replicate that right here in Somerset and Pulaski County, the Capital of Lake Cumberland, and it seemed a natural fit for a partnership with our local tourism organizations.”
The three groups selected the large water tank at the City of Somerset Water Treatment Plant on South U.S. 27 as its first mural billboard. Visible from the highway when traveling in both directions as well as from Lake Cumberland, the mural will highlight the community’s designations as the Capital of Lake Cumberland and the Houseboat Capital of the World.
A second phase of the project will involve murals on three smaller tanks on the same property.
Girdler said the group selected Justice for the project because of his significant experience with large format mural projects across the state. In addition to two murals on buildings in downtown Somerset, Justice has outdoor murals in Elkhorn City and Pikeville, and partnered with Somerset artist Amanda Brooks to paint a large equine-themed mural outside Man O’War Harley Davidson in Lexington.
Still, this is Justice’s largest project to date. It is expected to be complete by the end of July.
“It’s amazing to be a part of Somerset and Pulaski County’s growth,” he said.
That growth is due in large part to the arts, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said. By supporting arts initiatives of all kinds, organizations like SPEDA, city government and tourism are able to have a significant generational impact within the community.
“The arts are so important in that effort,” Keck said. “They help us tell our story in so many different forms. This water tower project is just one more way we can show everyone who visits here that we love Somerset, Pulaski County and Lake Cumberland and we’re proud to call this place home.”
City of Somerset Tourism Director Leslie Ikerd said this project’s uniqueness lies in the way it tells Somerset’s story through the lens of tourism.
“As we continue to promote and showcase all the many wonderful things Somerset and Pulaski County have to offer, this newest mural by Jordan Justice will be the icing on the cake,” Ikerd said. “We have so many diverse, creative, and imaginative artists right here in Somerset and we are thrilled to partner with SPEDA on another project that highlights our people, who are the true Spirit of Southern Kentucky.”
Mixing art and beautification is the perfect way to welcome visitors into the community, said Michelle Allen, executive director of Lake Cumberland Tourism.
“To leverage a large space highlighting The Capital of Lake Cumberland is no different from Lexington using a similar space to showcase their horse country,” Allen said. “But there is one exception: Not everyone has Lake Cumberland. We should take every opportunity to use spaces like these to share our pride for this unique natural wonder.”