Wednesday, September 12, 2018

I am taking a break from our European travels to look back at some cool street art I saw on previous trips “home” to the USA.

Texas is not a state I would go running to if it weren’t for several friends who currently call this Lone Star state home. In fact, I last visited Texas in 2002 (Yikes!), so I made a solo 900-plus-mile road trip to see several friends after visiting my family in Nebraska.

After having a homecooked Laotian lunch in Dallas with a girlfriend, I continued to Austin, who’s city model is “Keep Austin Weird” and is probably the state’s most liberal city. (Thank goodness!) During my three-day stay with a longtime girlfriend, she showed me the main sites and we sought out local street art.  

Downtown Austin
On the first day, we did a two-hour city tour with Austin Detours, which showcases a few highlights and includes a visit to the state capitol building.
Austin mural located at 6th Street Historic District by Sanctuary Printshop: East 6th St & SB I-35 Access Road.

As a pastry chef, I loved the “You’re My Butter Half” mural – a replica is located inside the Austin Visitor Center. The original design by Creative Suitcase is located at E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd & Alamo St., which we tried to find but couldn’t.
Random Pac-Man street art in Austin  
1st and Annie streets (Roadhouse Relics)
Our tour stopped at this large-scale replica of a vintage postcard located on the side of Roadhouse Relics. It’s easy to see why this is one of Austin’s most beloved murals and our tour guide took a group photo here. The mural was originally painted in 1998 by artist and owner Todd Sanders of Roadhouse Relics and his friend Rory Skagen.
HOPE Outdoor Gallery
I loved wandering around the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, a three-story concrete structure covered with random graffiti, in downtown Austin. The art park has been slated for demolition for months but will stay open through October this year. The park, launched in 2011 in an undeveloped lot, is home to some really cool murals as well as some random tagging and graffiti. Apparently, the site attracts an average of 500 daily visitors and also featured on our daily tour.
There are plans for opening a new art park at Carson Creek Ranch, a 58-acre ranch on the banks of the Colorado River in Southeast Austin near the airport. However, I doubt that a shiny, brand new site will have near the character as the current location.

South Congress Avenue
Snack Bar neon sign originally built as an addition to the Austin Motel.
Since my visit two years ago, a large section of South Congress Avenue where Parts & Labour and Doc’s Motorworks were located has been purchased, and the developers are planning a mixed-use project that calls for office, retail and restaurant uses and a (freaking) parking garage. Good job, Austin, let’s demolish some original, interesting buildings and replace them with another strip mall and parking garage! What a shame! (Read more about the development here by the Austin Statesman.)
For years, South Congress or SoCo has been a good representation of what Austin is all about. The ideal Austin mix is home to trendy boutiques, eclectic restaurants, food trucks, as well as craft booths and street musicians. I loved all the funky t-shirts and locally-made items that I found at Parts & Labour and enjoyed wandering through other artsy shops. I doubt that I will like the new SoCo if all the originality is replaced with strip malls, parking garages and fancy boutique hotels.

Don’t miss the famous “I love you so much” graffiti at Jo’s Hot Coffee on South Congress Avenue. You will probably have to wait your turn to take a photo here in front of what started as a simple love message. The story is that in 2010, local musician Amy Cook painted this love letter to her partner, Liz Lambert, one of the owners at Jo’s. The message stuck, has been repainted after being vandalized, and now is a popular photo spot for tourists and locals.
Good friends for nearly 20 years!
Neon Signs
In addition to the cool street art around Austin, you’ll find neon signs popping up inside and outside various buildings.
My advice: Visit Austin sooner rather than later because it appears that developers are taking away its artistic soul. BTW, I'm not usually so negative, but I'm disappointed to hear about the changes happening in Austin.

What do you think? Would you still want to visit Austin, Texas?


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BacktoBodrum said...

Looks like I will have to put Annie Street on my places to visit list