When I first moved to the Austin area from Fort Worth, everyone told me dozens of spots I needed to visit to truly experience Austin, ranging from eating at Threadgill’s (where Janis Joplin and broccoli rice casserole both got their starts) to seeing a concert at Austin City Limits (I mean it is the “Live Music Capital of the World”).
Yet, one spot seemed to hold a special place in many locals’ hearts, and that’s the Hope Outdoor Gallery (simply called the “Graffiti Park” by locals).
The HOPE Outdoor Gallery started in 2011 as an abandoned property with a killer view of the city, and over time, with the help of the HOPE Campaign and dozens of talented locals, this dilapidated site was converted into an ever-changing art exhibit attracting both novice street artists and seasoned pros.
At the end of 2017, the HOPE Project announced plans to move the gallery to a new location at Carson Creek Ranch and shut down the current gallery on Baylor Street in June to create a new and grand space for these amazing artworks.This annoucement has sparked debate — with some locals looking forward to a cleaner mural park, while others are mourning the loss of a funky Austin gem.
I finally made it out to the original location to see one of the sights that truly makes Austin weird before it shuts down.
The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is an artistic playground. You can climb the hill (and the actual walls), take in the creativity of the community and even leave your own mark by contacting the HOPE Campaign here.
As you hike to the top, each wall, platform and pillar holds a collage of artworks that have been built upon by different artists, each adding their own flair to create one never-ending mural.
It’s incredible to watch the street artists slowly turn a hodgepodge of color into a detailed artwork. My favorite was the painting of Spider-Man reading the newspaper. See if you can spot him in the picture below (hint: he’s next to the cat).
And as if being in the midst of Austin’s thriving art community wasn’t enough, the higher up you trek, the better the view of downtown.
If you haven’t been or you want to say goodbye to this crazy art experiment, don’t worry — you’ve still got time! Whether you love it or hate it, head to the Graffiti Park on Baylor Street one last time before it shuts its doors in June to get one a final look at the place that helped spark the beginning of Austin’s art community and has left its mark on many Austin locals.
Follow HOPE Outdoor Gallery to see more incredible artworks and get updates on their upcoming plans.