Famous street artist paints new mural of Muhammad Ali

Shepard Fairey brings his colorful art to West Louisville.

Blue, red, and yellow mural of Muhammad Ali on the side of a brick building.

Shepard Fairey began painting the mural on Saturday, April 22.

Photo via Fleur de Lis Communications

A new mural of Muhammad Ali is being dedicated on Wednesday, April 26 at the Chestnut Street YMCA in the Russell neighborhood. The seven-story mural on the side of the YMCA building was created by street artist Shepard Fairey, who is known for designing the Barack Obama “Hope” poster for the 2008 US presidential election.

Work began on the painting four days ago and is based on a photograph taken by Ali’s personal photographer Howard L. Bingham. It also incorporates text based on his philosophies and role as the Messenger of Peace for the United Nations among the vibrant pops of teal, red, and yellow colors.

Black and white portrait photo of Muhammad Ali.

Original photograph of Muhammad Ali in Houston 1967 being interviewed by Howard Cosell after being indicted.

Photo by Howard L. Bingham

“I’m a big fan of Muhammad Ali for his athleticism, but equally so for his activism and his philanthropy and outspokenness on issues I care about. So I think to have this mural on the YMCA where he actually trained as a kid in the city he grew up in is a really amazing opportunity,” Shepard said in an interview with Louisville Visual Arts.

Shepard solicited the help of Louisville artists, held a public workshop + heard feedback from the YMCA Black Achievers to help influence the direction of the Ali mural.

Following the dedication of the mural, a group art show featuring some of Shepard’s work called “Outside Influence” will open at PORTAL’s Common Art Gallery (1512 Portland Ave.) at 6 p.m. and run through Sunday, May 7.

In tandem with the opening of “Outside Influence,” a second show stacked with the work of Ralph Steadman will open. “Ride the Thunder: The Artistic Legacy of Hunter S. Thompson, Ralph Steadman, Gonzo” is a collection of original works and narratives from the iconic duo, as well as a portrait of Jack Harlow.

The “Outside Influence” opening will include a DJ set by Shephard + prints of the Ali mural will be available for purchase.

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