Mural Project to Recognize Dancer Wendy Whelan

by ekramer on December 31, 2009

The Greater Louisville Pride Foundation has put up 17 large murals of famous Louisvillians throughout the city — and it’s getting ready to mount another. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The foundation’s Hometown Heroes project began to recognize current or former citizens known for excellence in their fields and first hung an image of Muhammad Ali. Over the years, murals of other notable people have been added to include images of journalist Diane Sawyer, jockey Pat Day, radio journalist Bob Edwards and basketball player Darrell Griffith.

And by April next year, the foundation plans to add an image of New York City Ballet dancer Wendy Whelan to the city’s collection. (The photo is being taken by her husband, photographer David Michalek.)

The foundation’s president, Mike Sheehy, says nearly three years ago he and his colleagues began discussing a mural to honor the internationally acclaimed dancer.

“We feel Wendy, with her career in the ballet, and as an educational thing it’s great to be able to put this up and Wendy’ll maybe be an influence on some young girl or young boy that might want to pursue a career in dance,” he says.

Whelan grew up in Louisville and attended the Brown School downtown, which is were the mural will be hung.

Sheehy says Whelan will be the third artist in the group.

“We’re excited to have her as part of the group,” he says. “And Louisville has a very strong arts community and anything we can do to show that off to our citizens here and also to people visiting the community, we’re all for it.”

The only two other artists now in the collection are sculptor Ed Hamilton and Patrick Henry Hughes, the blind trumpeter in the University of Louisville marching band.

Sheehy says the decision to add an image of Whelan has been in the works for some time.

“We’ve actually been talking about Wendy for several years,” he says. “And we knew of her and what she’s done in New York with the ballet. But we’ve actually talked to her mom and father and then to Wendy herself about it. So, it’s been an ongoing process as much as these murals are.”

Photo: Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall perform with with the dance troupe Morphoses. Photo: Lois Greenfield

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