New mural by original artist coming to 12th and Chicon after controversy

East Austin mural before it was painted over (Viewer Photo)
East Austin mural before it was painted over (Viewer Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Weeks after a mural community members grew fond of was painted over by a new business owner, the wall along Chicon Street at East 12th Street will soon have a new mural.

Chris Rogers is the artist who painted the original mural of famous African-American musicians. Locals in the historically black neighborhood and many others connected with the mural.

The business owner responsible for replacing the mural, Veronica Ortuño, who is leasing the building and opening a boutique clothing store, has given Rogers permission to paint a new mural where his original stood for three years.

“I’m painting for the city, you know,” Rogers said, overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community. “The city wants me to do this wall and it’s in a very significant, I mean it was the center of the African-American business district right there on 12th and Chicon.”

Rogers is eager to get back to work.

“For me to be doing this mural and to be taking ideas from the community as to which direction we want to go with that and I’m the sole proprietor of that art, it’s a huge compliment,” said Rogers.

The East 12th Street Merchant’s Association has helped bring all parties together to talk about the future of the mural and what can be done to protect other murals in the city.

“There are other murals that have been covered up,” Rogers said. “Let’s get legislation behind them, get them part of the East Austin tours – just really make that area part of Austin.”

As for the white wall at East 12th and Chicon, Rogers says he’s open to suggestions from the community about what should be in it.

Brian Mays owns and operates Sam’s Bar-B-Que a block away from the mural on E 12th Street. His family has owned the restaurant since the 1950’s. He says the mural was significant because of what it represented but feels this is an opportunity to add some new faces to the wall.

“[Add] Spanish folks, white folks, black folks and then all the rest of them at the bottom, a whole lot of folks and they all come together with unity,” Mays said. “You got to bring unity together, some kind of way you got to talk about unity.”

A meeting is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Rio Rita Lounge where Rogers and community leaders will discuss which direction people want to go with how the mural looks.

Mays says he’ll pay close attention to what that wall looks like.

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