I always enjoy a good pass through Austin, though typically I am never there for long, I always enjoy the sights and sounds of the unique city. Though it happens to be the capitol of Texas, it is unlike any other capitol city you will find as its culture paves the way to a city of innovation and art which cannot be surpassed.
The first time I heard the phrase “Keep Austin Weird” I was a little confused, I knew two things to be in the city, the University of Texas and all of the Texas governmental structure. I was not quite sure how that exactly equated “weird” in a way worthy of t-shirts and bumper stickers.
However, upon going in my adult years to the city for the first time, I saw a city much different than my original knowledge could have ever explained. The curtains rolled back and with that a city focused on new ideas of conservation, encouraging art and music and with a population more focused on riding bikes and living in sandals than suits and dark tinted cars.
Unlike many Texas cities this one is laid back and you can find everything from the tame to the strange within a city block. A government building might stand next door to a coffee shop with local street artist brightly colored depiction of their favorite scene in a fairy tale. A bank is not uncommon to have one of the infamous Austin pigs in their lawn. Or you might just be walking down 6th only to find one of the numerous celebrities which call Austin their home away from home during one of the festivals.
To those in Austin, its just home, but to those visiting it is a unique experience which changes every day.
I have two favorite things in Austin, the food and the art. Known for their food truck scene, even resturants seem to have a different flair that is more conducive to the culture of movement. And the art, well it speaks for itself as you can find it throughout the city in some of the most uncommon places. Artists flock to Austin to make their mark and be a part of the community of artists which call Austin home.
One of the most common places you can find some of these artists, Hope Outdoor Gallery. Located at 11th and Baylor just beyond the downtown congestion, on a busy day, you can hardly find a place to park. People of all ages assemble to paint, watch artists and enjoy the scene which makes Austin so unique. It is a non-profit site which was launched in March of 2011 with the help of a contemporary artist Shepard Fairey. It’s goal, to give artists and a community a voice.
Since its creation, the project has expanded and now the paint park has been recognized for its true contributions to the community including summer school programs, school field trips, film and tv use, job creation for local artists, connections and networking for artists with the world, art classes offered for children and even yoga classes.
Its message is magical, as artists adorn the walls with paint and creations only to have them covered again by another artist at a later time. It is an evolution similar to that of life, that nothing lasts forever so you must enjoy the beauty while it exists.
Because of this, every visit to the gallery is a different experience as you climb throughout the multiple levels of art painted daily.
My favorite experiences of Austin have been coming here and finding peace atop the highest point of the crag. Up top are flat walls with numerous artist painting, the smell of spray paint a bit overwhelming but the views of the city unmatched. It is a must stop in Austin and a huge piece of the culture which is helping to keep Austin “weird” in such an amazing way.
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