HOPE Outdoor gallery outgrows neighborhood, looks to move

HOPE Outdoor gallery (KXAN file photo)
HOPE Outdoor gallery (KXAN file photo)

AUSTIN — Since opening in 2011, Austin’s HOPE Outdoor Gallery has become an unexpected mecca for street artists around the world — and a hotspot for tourists to snap a few pictures.

The three-tiered brick jungle off 11th and Baylor Street welcomes hundreds, if not thousands of people daily to either spray paint a piece of artwork or just bring visitors to check it out.

“When it first started there were a lot more artists, local artists,” said Miles Starkey with the Hope Outdoor Gallery. “Then as it started to gain more popularity, we started getting more tourists come out and it’s kind of been this balance between artists and tourists.”

In fact, so many people use the space as a sort of open-mic for spray painting — the same piece doesn’t last longer than a few days.

“I personally saw a nice painting of an army man yesterday that got painted over right now, so it kinda just shows that maybe in a day, your painting will go away,” said visitor Alex Baltierra.

Using a single can of spray paint, Baltierra comes to the wall 3-4 times a week. He says, the beauty of the wall is that it’s fleeting.

“That’s the whole point of it. To make it new, bring your culture in here, change it up and see something else,” he said.

Officially, anyone who wants to write or draw with graffiti at HOPE is required to register. Not everyone does.

As the city continues to grow, officials say it’s getting harder to keep track of the people who register or not. It’s also causing some growing pains for nearby businesses.

KXAN received an email from one business who wanted to highlight the lack of respect for the rules.

They told us vandals are forcing Clarksville business owners to repeatedly repaint walls, wash off tree trunks and clean up a littered lot — instead of painting on the gallery right across the street.

It’s part of the reason, HOPE says, they’re moving the gallery.

“We’ve definitely outgrown our comfort space here. There’s not really a good spot to park without parking at a business or parking next to someones house,” Starkey said.

Starkey says he uses the vandalism as a chance to educate the public about street art etiquette and choosing a legal graffiti park, instead of someone else’s private property.

The gallery could not tell us when they will be moving or where the new space will be, but they hope to find a place this year with enough space for parking and even restrooms.

 

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