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Mural featuring viral meme of Sen. Bernie Sanders at inauguration gains attention in Lexington

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Posted at 9:59 AM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 09:59:23-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's been one week since President Joe Biden's inauguration, and since then, an image of Senator Bernie Sanders from the event quickly gained popularity online. He's even made his way to Lexington.

The image of Sanders bundled up in his coat and mittens has been painted on Shop Local Kentucky's warehouse wall at 1093 West High Street. With a parking area across the street, it's been a prime spot for photo ops.

Ben Runco, the artist behind the painting, is still getting used to the attention.

"This is my first work on the side of a building," he said. "I'm very used to small canvases hidden away in my own little studio."

He says he's overjoyed by the response people are having to the painting.

"You know, I think I just wanted to do something fun for the community," said Runco.

Now, Shop Local Kentucky, where Runco works as a graphic designer, uses the image to do more for the community. The shop is selling a sweatshirt featuring the sitting senator. Twenty percent of the proceeds will benefit Arbor Youth Services in Lexington, which works to end youth homelessness.

"Bernie Sanders himself was actually selling a sweatshirt online, and he donated 100% of the proceeds to Meals on Wheels, so we didn't want it to interfere with that. So, we originally weren't going to do a sweatshirt or anything, but he sold out, and we decided no harm, no foul, this could be a great way to raise some funds for a local charity and create awareness as well," said Rick Paynter, owner of Shop Local Kentucky.