Louisville artist Wilfred E. Sieg III has been beautifying blank walls around the city since 2012, painting surrealist murals for businesses like Joe Ley Antiques, Royals Hot Chicken, Kaiju, Against the Grain, Lady Tron’s and, most recently, the First Trust Centre, the historic office building where the Insider Louisville offices reside.
We’ve known of the artist for a long time, but we were surprised to see him at work in our lobby, day after day. Sieg is painting two pieces in the First Trust lobby, titled “Onward & Upward” and “Holding Higher Knowledge.”
Owners of the building also gave him free rein on the rest of the space, so he’s also adding is signature style to a long archway that stretches throughout.
Sieg, who also is founder of the Art Cartel, says he’s been developing a style he calls “spherism,” involving spheres that make up an abstract figure or portrait. Both pieces in the First Trust lobby use spheres and subdued color.
“It’s a bit of a departure from the style, but I believe the spheres create a parallel between the two pieces that deliver a nice balance,” he tells Insider. “I’d say both pieces have an overall feeling and similar theme of personal exploration and growth.”
At the moment, Sieg also is finishing up work on Jeffersonville’s Water Tower, a colorful, eye-catching piece that covered up a once unnoticeable structure. It’s a prime example of how art can uplift a community.
“Art is for everyone and enhances the human experience,” says Sieg. “It helps give communities a sense of pride … and it helps give an area an identity and creates landmarks within those communities. Spaces become places through art.”
Sieg has been an artist his entire life. After a car accident in his teens, which took away the use of his left arm, he had to regroup and learn how to work with one hand. In fact, it was art, he says, that kept him going.
Asked if he could paint any wall on any building in Louisville, Sieg goes with a new one.
“There are so many walls I’d love to paint,” he says. “If I had to pick one, it might be the Omni Hotel.”
We caught Sieg during a painting break in our lobby to ask him some very important questions …
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
Being a guinea pig for stem cell research.
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
Maurits Cornelis Escher and the Beastie Boys.
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
I guess it depends on what it opened. I’d give it to my parents. They’ve had my back since I was born.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
I’m definitely a carnivore, so the meat lovers would be my pick.
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
I’d say it would have to be age 17. That was the age my accident happened, which caused me to lose the use of my left arm. To have that back, even for a moment, would be an absolute dream.
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
I’ve heard Hank Jr., Chris Stapleton, Genghis Khan, Zakk Wylde, Jim James, “Duck Dynasty” … so I guess anyone with a beard and long hair.
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?