The Renaissance Man About Town—AAF talks art, advertising and community with Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.
Article: Lisa R. Kindel / Photography: Shaun Ring
Before Jim Gray became Lexington’s vice mayor in 2006 and mayor in 2010, he served as chairman and CEO of family owned Gray Construction. During his tenure at Gray Construction, he co-founded the Design-Build Institute of America in 1993 and attended Harvard University Graduate School of Design as a Loeb Fellow studying city design, public art and community in 1996.
AAF: So, what was your first concert?
Mayor Jim Gray: Rolling Stones . . . no, wait. Neil Diamond.
AAF: Neil Diamond?
Mayor Jim Gray: Rolling Stones came first, then Neil Diamond.
AAF: Okay . . . so what did you want to be when you grew up?
Mayor Jim Gray: My father and be in the Gray Construction Business—we (Mayor Gray and his brothers) started early doing common labor—swept a lot of floors, cleaned up, carried mud (cement).
AAF: Who influenced you?
Mayor Jim Gray: My mother and father, brothers, teachers . . .
AAF: Anyone else?
Mayor Jim Gray: John F. Kennedy—he represented youth and enthusiasm, the spirit of the age with his ideas and belief in America.
AAF: What’s your favorite ad campaign ?
Mayor Jim Gray: Geico. They’re clever, humorous and did a great job coming together.
AAF: How do you feel about advertising in Lexington?
Mayor Jim Gray: Lexington is full of really creative people. This creative talent is the lifeblood of the city that activates and liberates.
AAF: Who is your favorite artist? Why?
Mayor Jim Gray: I really can’t pick a favorite artist. Locally, Louis Bickett’s work reflects a lifetime of production, originality, and discipline. Art history is being made every day and imaginative and creative artists are thriving and making life exciting. Art today is more accessible to more people than it has ever been in history.
AAF: What role does art play in Lexington community as a whole?
Mayor Gray: Art tells us about ourselves, where we’ve been, where we’re going. Of course it enriches our lives and plays an important role in recruiting and retaining new businesses, and in neighborhood and community development.
AAF: What RECENT PUBLIC art project are you the most proud of in Lexington?
Mayor Gray: Lincoln mural
AAF: What advice do you have for nexgen Lexingtonians?
Mayor Jim Gray: Lexington is a place of tipping point opportunities. I love seeing the creative growth in the agencies—it illustrates the economic potential of growth.
AAF: How do art, advertising and Lexington come together?
Mayor Jim Gray: Ideas are the DNA of everything important. Advertising is an art form that translates into the economy and inspires in unexpected ways.
AAF: One last question—what are you drinking?
Mayor Jim Gray: Coke Zero but I start with heavy espresso in the morning.