Friday, October 7, 2016

Austin's South Congress Street Art

Forget about Donald or Hillary
South Congress Avenue, also known as SoCo, in Austin, Texas is an extremely walkable street full of stores and restaurants. Another great draw is the cluster of fantastic street art. This summer, I took my daughter and her friends down to explore the area by foot, and the many murals we saw were a source of great fun.

Willie for President

Watching the Presidential Debates, I'm starting to think that Willie Nelson for President isn't as farfetched an idea as I originally thought. What are his qualifications? For a long time, he got away with not paying the IRS for income tax. That makes him smart! On the other hand, the IRS finally caught up with him and billed him $16.7 million in unpaid back taxes, interest and fines. Poor Willie had to turn over all his possessions except for this trusty guitar in order to avoid jail time. With true Austin "Live Music Capital of the World" moxie, he negotiated a deal to settle his remaining debt by sharing his proceeds from the compilation album The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Mememories?. The Willie for President mural was originally created for 2016 SXSW by artists Jacqui Oakley, Erick Montes, and Joe Swec.
1423 South Congress Avenue, on the side of STAG Provisions

South Austin is the quirky neighborhood that Keeps Austin Weird

Mr. Rogers Mural

On the opposite side of the building from Willie, you'll find a 10x10 foot mural created by Niz, a stencil artist from Lima, Peru. A photorealistic image of the friendly and compassionate Mr. Rogers, his trusty Trolley and the imperious King Friday puppet was stenciled over a vibrant, streaky background of watered down housepaint. If only Mr. Rogers were running for president. Sigh... Bonus, this mural is on the side of More Homeslice which serves pizza until 3AM on Fridays and Saturdays. 
1421 South Congress Avenue, on the side of More Homeslice 

Are you sure I'm not in New York?

Fuggedabout Parking Here

Okay, okay, this isn't technically a piece of street art. But I loved this No Parking sign so much because it really plays into Homeslice Pizza's New York attitude.
1421 South Congress Avenue, on the side of More Homeslice, to the left of Mr. Rogers

I got 99 problems but the Pizza ain't one.

99 Problems 

We were cutting through the back alley behind More Homeslice when this little piece of street art caught my eye. It's not very big... smaller than poster sized. But I like that someone took the time to decorate a place which probably get low traffic.
1421 South Congress Avenue, on the back of More Homeslice

Before I die I want to ____________________

Before I Die

The kids loved the Before I Die mural because they got to write on it with chalk. On the other hand, it got mixed reviews from the adults who saw these photos. Some considered it an inspiring bucket list while others thought it was rather morbid. While travel related wishes were often listed, other people wished to "Meet Kim Kardashian" or "release a video game." After we visited, I kept an eye on Instragram to see how long our messages stayed up. They lasted less than a week, and then it was someone else's turn to share their wish with the rest of the world.

This piece was is an extension of a temporary piece created for the 2013 SXSW conference. It's part of a series of New Orleans artist Candy Chang's Before I Die walls that have been erected all over the world. This one is nestled in a residential neighborhood just off South Congress, and I wondered if the occupants minded strangers dropping by all the time. It turns out that this is The Art Barn, a 400-foot boutique hotel that is a stand alone extension of the Kimber Modern Hotels.

Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds store sign

Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds

The long collage above this costume shop is certainly not something to quickly glance at while driving by. You really need to stand on the pavement across the street to examine all the details. Can you spot Willie Nelson? I really like the Carmen Miranda zebra statue on top. Why settle for just one costume when you can don two?
1506 South Congress Avenue

No.. really, I love you so much.

I Love You So Much

Even though it's quite simple, this mural is one of the most popular ones in Austin, especially around Valentine's Day. On the relatively quiet weekday that we visited, this one had a queue of people waiting for a turn in front of this love letter. My girl and I get originality points for NOT making a heart with our hands. Back in 2010, Austin musician Amy Cook sprayed this message to her partner, Liz Lambert who created Hotel San José down the street and is part owner of Jo's Coffee. Music, LGBTQ pride, and trendy boutique hotels perfectly captures the spirit of the South Congress area.
1300 South Congress Avenue, on the side of Jo's Coffee

Which mural is your favorite?

5 Things to Do in Austin other than Austin City Limits or SXSW

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  1. I love street art. The "Before I Die" mural is fun and interactive. I like it.

  2. I love this mural paintings. If I ever make it to Austin I'll make sure to go on South Congress Street to see them. How do you guys discover these places? I never seem to stumble upon any of these. I kind of envy you.

  3. Lyn - A Hole in my ShoeOctober 7, 2016 at 10:41 PM

    I love street art and mural so enjoyed this post. The Before I die is my fav with Be my neighbour a close second. Thanks for linking with #TheWeeklyPostcard

  4. contented travellerOctober 7, 2016 at 10:50 PM

    I am with your kids, the Before I die. I love how in the US, you do the names like SoCo, and SoCal etc.

  5. Love the quirky street art in Austin. I especially like the wall which lets you complete the sentence "Before I die ..." and some of the creative answers people write :) #WkendTravelInspiration

  6. This is cool! It is fun to go out and spot murals. I like the Lucy in Disguise collage. Would like to take a closer look to see what faces I can recognize.

  7. It's interesting to learn the story behind each and every mural. Willie for President seems inspiring;).

  8. Even though, as you said, it's technically not street art, I love the pizza sign. Quite a sense of humor. And I love interactive art, so the "Before I die" is a favorite. But you know, I don't know how someone could resist Willie for President!!

  9. I love street art. How about that Mr. Rogers?! I'll bet he never expected to be street art. Love it!

  10. This is so pretty. I would love to take a walk and look at all this street art! I LOVED the Before I die mural!


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