Mark Anthony Mulligan Local Artist, Songwriter dies at 59

Mark Anthony Mulligan, a Louisville folk musician, songwriter, and inspiration, was eager to participate if there is a song to be sung, a smile to be given, and people to listen. Mulligan, a fixture on Bardstown Road, died on Monday, November 28th, at 59. He received treatment at Clarksville’s Wedgewood Healthcare Center for short-term recovery, rehabilitation, and senior care.

Mulligan was born in Louisville and has spent most of his life in and out of care facilities, hospitals, and on the streets. Mulligan had several illnesses that contributed to his difficulties, but he was a determined guy who amassed a devoted following of admirers and friends over the years. If you lived around the Highlands or Bardstown Road areas, you almost certainly had a run-in with Mulligan. Mulligan’s trademark big smile, sparkling eyes, and swinging arms offered color and kindness everywhere he went.

Mulligan the Artist

Mulligan introduced his artwork to gallery owner Chuck Swanson in the early 2000s, who then assisted Mulligan in finding exhibits for his work. According to artist Al Gorman in the documentary “Peacelands/Mark Anthony Mulligan,” Swanson represented Mulligan via his gallery for more than ten years. Gorman was a coworker of Swanson at the time. Many Louisville galleries turned Mulligan down before he found representation with Swanson.

Mulligan’s most well-known paintings include rich cityscapes demonstrating his great ability to see and interpret his surroundings as they were and as he wanted them to be to express his message. He was deeply devout and wildly hilarious, and he often included pieces of his personality in his paintings. Street and company names were often constructed in his works and represented his sensibility. His paintings, despite their folkiness, displayed a degree of talent and conception comparable to that of famous artist Jacob Lawrence or fellow Kentuckian Helen La France. Like La France’s, Mulligan’s work often blurred the line between ‘folk’ and ‘art’ with significant interpretative components.

His work sometimes evolved into portraits, poetry, and games.

Mulligan was diagnosed with COVID and put on a ventilator in 2021. He recovered from the ventilator but was nowhere to be seen along Bardstown. Mulligan spent the last days of his life in Wedgewood. He is left by multiple siblings, nieces and nephews, and a city full of people who knew him and would miss him.

Even before his death was verified, well-wishes and tales about Mulligan began circulating on social media. Here are a few monuments to this remarkable person.

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