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Covington’s painterly tribute 

Henry Farny is remembered in pocket park bearing his signature 

Photo: Whitney Duvall
Photo: Whitney Duvall
Photo: Whitney Duvall
Photo: Whitney Duvall
Photo: Whitney Duvall

Hidden away in Covington’s Old Seminary Square neighborhood, the Henry Farny Park is a pocket-size charmer that emerged on the canvas of a once-vacant corner lot. The park is bordered on one side by a picket fence with a mural depicting a modernized interpretation of The Song of the Talking Wire, one of the artist’s most famous works, created in 1904. 

Covington artist David Rice sculpted the park’s centerpiece, a dot within a circle representing Farny’s Sioux signature, which is encircled by a brick pathway. Rice also created the metal horse and cactus silhouette sculptures that are tucked among shady trees and plants. 

“The park was completed in 2009 and is an homage to Henry Farny,” says Greg Paeth, who was president of the Old Seminary Square Neighborhood Association at that time. “A lot of people and organizations played a role in its development.” 

The list includes Joan Lee, a former attorney who lived in the neighborhood and, according to Paeth, was the driving force behind the park, and Kevin Haaser, the owner of the vacant lot. 

The Old Seminary Square Neighborhood Association and Westside Action Coalition, now called the Westside Covington Neighborhood, worked in cooperation with the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington, the City of Covington, the Kentucky Arts Council, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and the Place Matters-Grant Program to bring the project to fruition. The two neighborhood groups also maintain the park.   

Born in 1847 in Ribeauville, France, Henry François Farny spent his childhood in Warren, Pennsylvania, where the family moved in 1853. Living near the reservation of the Seneca Nation of Indians, young Henry developed an affinity for American Indians. As an adult, the painter and illustrator made multiple trips west in the 1880s to amass material for a body of work that celebrated the life and culture of American Indians in the 19th century. About 100 of his paintings were inspired by these excursions. 

From 1890 to 1907, Farny lived and worked in Covington, at 1029-1031 Banklick St., not far from where the park sits. It is while living here that he created The Song of the Talking Wire

About 5 miles east, the city of Bellevue pays tribute to this painting in an ArtWorks’ mural entitled, Garden Party at the Taft. Embellishing the side of the building at 229 Fairfield Ave., it was created in 2012 in celebration of the Taft Museum of Art’s 80th anniversary to showcase masterpieces in the museum’s collection, Farny’s piece among them. 

The original painting, an oil on canvas, is on exhibit at the Taft Museum of Art, located across the Ohio River at 316 Pike S. in downtown Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Art Museum has more than 40 of Farny’s works on paper, although they are not on view due to light sensitivity. What can be seen are the artist’s Renegade Apaches, Hunting Camp on the Plains and Indian Elk Hunting, as well as two of Farny’s most famous paintings, The Last of the Herd and The Unwelcome Guests. 

Farny is also found among the Robert Dafford-created Roebling Murals, 18 magnificent vignettes painted on the floodwall at the foot of Roebling Bridge and stretching along Covington’s Riverside Drive. In Stop No. 8, Artists in Residence, Farny is paired with another internationally famous artist, figure and portrait painter Frank Duveneck—born and raised in Covington—with the former shown painting outdoors and the latter in his studio. 

Theodore Roosevelt, a close friend of Farny’s, once told the artist: “Farny, the nation owes you a great debt. It does not realize it now, but it will someday. You are preserving for future generations phases of American history that are rapidly passing away.” 

The Henry Farny Park remembers the artist whose paintings document that history.  

The Henry Farny Park is in Covington’s Old Seminary Square neighborhood at the corner of West Robbins and Banklick streets. The park is open to all. There is no website or phone number specific to the park; however, information about and maps of the neighborhood may be found at, scroll down and click on Old Seminary Square. 

Henry Farny Park 

209-219 W. Robbins Street 

Covington, KY 41011 

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