From indigenous bats, to Kentucky Fried Chicken and bourbon, a newly finished mural at the Botany Bay store encompasses all things which represent Kentucky.
The mural was created in honor of the business’ 25th anniversary. The owner Ginny Saville said the mural is “a gift to the community.”
Saville is an alumna of Eastern Kentucky University and stayed in Richmond for years after she graduated.
One of the figures depicted in the mural is Louis Gatewood Galbraith. Galbraith was best-known for his five attempts to run for governor and his platform around legalizing marijuana.
“I started this business with $3,500 out of the back of my car in 1996 and I bought a bunch of backpacks, papers on industrial hemp goods and I bought it from Gatewood. That really started like a long-term friendship with him,” Saville said.
Saville said having Galbraith featured in the mural was important to her.
“He’s one of those old dudes in the cannabis movement, who was kind of on the ground floor and just really ridiculed a lot, but now the wide world’s coming along a decade after his death,” Saville said.
Saville said the mural in Richmond is a special project for her and hopes the city will enjoy it.
“I really have a lot of my heart and a lot of my adult life there (in Richmond),” Saville said. “It’s really important to me, and it’s my opinion that they deserved it, especially, as it has been a really rough couple of years.”
Saville said she hopes to create more murals around the building.
Alongside Sean Dietrich, the main artist, Fraggle Dee assisted with the mural. Dee is a self-proclaimed “art kid” who works at the Richmond Botany Bay location.
“I’ve looked at Sean’s work for several years now,” Dee said. “It’s one thing to hang out or just be a fan of an artist. It’s a whole other thing to work with them. It was an incredible experience, but one of the best experiences in my life.”
Dee drew up the sketch of Saville for the left corner of the mural. The mural shows Saville with slippers on, a green t-shirt and bright red hair.
From drawing her boss, Dee said she has learned that if she’s giggling while painting — she must be doing a good job.
“As far as drawing up the boss, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more intimidating challenge,” Dee said. “But she loves it and I love it. And it makes me giggle.”
As an added twists, at night a small portion of the mural will be glowing, because the drug paraphernalia Saville’s figure is holding in the mural has green paint with extra fine glitter inside.
“The little bowl that we packed for her,” Dee shared. “If you look really really close and especially at night when the street lights hit it. It’s got an extra fine glitter to it that we only put there so that it looks like her bowl is sparkling.”
Now everyday when Dee gets to work, she sees the mural outside the building.
“Once it’s finally done, it’s just kind of like ‘Wow, that really happened,” Dee said. “You take a step back, you actually get to see the big picture.”
Dee said the experience of creating this mural made her passion for art even more intense. Dee has also been involved in creating posters sold at the Botany Bay.
The mural has been referred to as “Fear and Loathing in Kentucky” as a localized spin on the iconic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
“We had Fear and Loathing in Kentucky sort of theme and the crew gave ideas to our artist and we had a whole bunch of stuff. He looked through the list and found things that inspired him to come up with that idea,” Saville said.
Hunter S. Thompson was an American journalist best known for writing 1971’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and creating “Gonzo journalism.” Thompson was born in Louisville. He is also depicted in the center of the mural.
Horses are also a focal point for the mural because of their significance in Kentucky. Dietrich painted “bourbon horses,” which are horses that have bourbon bottles as part of their skeleton.
Another reference in the mural is the cocaine bear.
In November 1985, a hunter discovered a dead 175-pound black bear in Chattahoochee National Forest. Nearby was a duffel bag which had originally contained roughly 75 pounds of cocaine.
The cocaine smuggler, Andrew Carter Thornton II, was the wealthy son of an elite Kentucky horse-breeding family. Thornton’s body was found in a driveway in Knoxville, Tennessee after he died while parachuting while transporting the cocaine.
When Dietrich was painting the “cocaine bear” he used bourbon mixed with paint in order to get the effect of cocaine lightly smearing on the bear’s nose.
“He didn’t have any water to dilute to get that smattering. So he asked if I had any bourbon and we had Wild Turkey,” Dee said. “He took some bourbon mixed with the paint, did the bear’s nose and poured some on Hunter, because that was Hunter S. Thompson’s favorite drink.”
Dee shared that all of her favorite parts of the mural are in reference to the memories she has working with Dietrich.
“Every time I see it, I’m always gonna remember those memories,” Dee said. “That’s the best part.”