Whether you consider the Highlands a playground or a get-in-get-out-
quick locale, you’ve seen Noah Church’s art. His intricate and colorful murals adorn the likes of Café 360 and Ray’s Monkey House. Maybe you’ve even seen him in person. Surely you’ve picked up takeout from Mark’s Feed Store or at least picked up the new My Morning Jacket at ear X-tacy. He’s the one squatting in the alley there, between the two staple Highlands businesses, marking up the stark white wall with his loopy, Alice-in-Wonderland creations. There’s a dragon. And a flying pig. And caricatures of nearby folks who are paying him to decorate this 4-foot-high cement barricade that separates retail from residential.
Church’s preferred medium is the mural — and it’s not just for the guaranteed audience. “Painting a mural kind of blurs the lines between art, work, play, graffiti and performance art,” the 24-year-old says. “It’s all of those things and more because I feel that everyone who saw it happening was a part of it, too. I meet so many people and see their smiling faces. The whole process of painting the mural becomes the reward, almost more so than the finished piece.”
And the worst part, besides the unwarranted critiques? “My least favorite questions are ‘How long has it taken you?’ and ‘Are you an artist?’ I’ll look confused for a second, then answer yes, and they just nod their head like they thought so.”
As work keeps rolling in, Church is staying put in Louisville, at least for now. He says the city has a talented pool of artists, an asset many people easily forget about when filling out pros and cons. “I’ve done a lot of traveling … but every time I come back to Louisville, it becomes new again and there is a magic in the air. I think of it as the underground’s underground,” he explains. “There are a lot of great artists and thinkers in this city right now. The ones who have some sort of fixed romantic allegiance to Louisville should be rewarded by the city for their efforts, and, in return, the city would benefit from their ideas and visions. How great would it be if the ones running things around here actually knew and were familiar with artists in the area?” —Sara Havens
Jen Pellerin & Samantha Griffith
Thaniel Ion Lee