The Austin Art Scene That Is Keeping The City Weird

By Derek Freal,

Given it’s slogan “Keep Austin Weird” it should be no surprise that this Texas city is famous for a lot of things besides just being the live music capital of the world. Nearly 20 million visitors a year are drawn to the capital city thanks to such iconic notables as their food trucks and ever-growing music/movie industry. However there is one amazing scene that many people miss out on: the burgeoning art movement, especially street art.


From grey concrete to technicolor


Austin graffiti art
Photo by the author 

For years, graffiti artists practiced their art under the cover of darkness, most notably by the Baylor Street Art Wall. Also known as Castle Hill, this abandoned lot of cement slabs downtown is an ever-changing glimpse at Austin’s artistic soul, one that has been embraced by the local residents. The area has become so popular that nowadays it’s not uncommon to see the artists at work during the day. A great place to stay while visiting is the W Austin.


Aerosol Art streets


Graffiti artists Austin Texas
Photo by Hunter Jones with permission 

Two other great aerosol art collections are downtown along 5th Street near Yellow Jacket Social Club and 23rd & Guadalupe, at the 23rd Street Artists’ Market. The artists’ market itself also has a variety of art, jewelry, apparel and more for sale. If that’s not enough then all it takes is a brief walk or drive around downtown to discover countless additional examples of unique street art. (Hint: Two of my personal favorites are Guadalupe and South Congress, there is art everywhere!)


Meet the art collectives


art scene in Austin Texas
Photo by Wally Gobetz 

Recently, local artists have also united in a variety of niche art communities. One such collective is SprATX (pronounced “spray-T-X”) and I had the pleasure of attending one of their events over one weekend. As the name implies, their specialty is in aerosol art. The highlight of this evening was about a half dozen artists who used a blank building wall as their canvas. Each was given a section of the exterior and the freedom to create whatever they desired. While they worked, hundreds of people stopped by and watched the show, enjoying the live DJ and free drinks. Artwork was also available for purchase as well.


Adding a layer of beauty to the city


Austin Texas art party
Photo by the author 

Events like this are common around Austin. SprATX and other groups have also become quite successful at using social media like Instagram to promote art awareness and unite the community in a positive way. They see art as a way to make people smile and add a new layer of beauty to the city. Plus, bringing artists and art fans together for live shows is a fun and invigorating way to brighten up the community. Another collective doing amazing work is Austin Art Garage. The idea behind it was to bring together emerging artists doing amazing work and make their one-of-a-kind pieces available to the public.


60 tons of art


Cathedral of Junk Austin Texas
Photo by Jason Eppink

There are even regular citizens keeping Austin artwork weird by turning their property into a canvas. One prominent example is the Cathedral Of Junk, an ever-growing climbable piece of eclectic art. The exhibit resides in the backyard of a house in an otherwise average neighborhood of South Austin. The artist, Austinite Vince Hannemann, has slowly added to his creation since the late 1980’s and has now amassed over 60 tons of junk in this unique masterpiece. Over the last few years this project has evolved into a tourist attraction. 

Which city has your favorite street art?

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