HOPE Outdoor Gallery to close in June

Last week the City of Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission unanimously approved the demolition of HOPE Outdoor Gallery, also known as the Graffiti Park. After an 8 – 0 vote, it was decided that the graffiti-covered concrete walls located on 11th and Baylor Street will relocate to 9507 Sherman Road, seven miles from its original spot.

“The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is an incredible reflection of the ideas and needs happening within our society today,” HOPE founder Andi Scull Cheatham told PaperCity Magazine this week. “It’s an open air, open mic for the creative class and community to enjoy and participate in.”

Although there is not yet an official construction date, the graffiti park is scheduled to remain open until June 2018. In anticipation, artists and spectators alike have been visiting the graffiti park to say their final goodbyes.

“I feel Austin is becoming less and less about art and creativity and more about business and technology,” said Chris McCarthy, an Austin local who stopped by the outdoor gallery to pay his respects. “A lot of the creative freedom and artistry of this city is going away.”

The graffiti park officially opened to artists in 2011 as a SXSW art installation. Since then it has seen as many as 500 visitors and artists per day and has ultimately become a staple for Austin’s history of creative art. Additionally, 300 documented artists have used the graffiti park as their own personal canvas, the first artist to paint on the spot was Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the brand OBEY, and Barack Obama’s, “Hope” campaign.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Amber Nelson, a tourist visiting from New York. “I really like that people get to express their artistic abilities, it seems very cool, I’m sad they are going to take this away.”

HOPE outdoor gallery is scheduled to move to Carson Creek Ranch near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The new project is set to be a six acre park that offers more creative space and structure for the artistic community. Additionally, a concrete wall from the original outdoor gallery will be preserved as a monument in the new park as a reminder of HOPE’S origin.

Even so, locals worry that the new space won’t measure up to the gallery’s original home, which offered a prime view of the city.

“I think we have been lucky just to have this space with really open access to all kinds of people,” said Val Brains, a Connecticut-based author / illustrator that uses the graffiti park as a creative platform for her paintings. “I feel like I should be more upset but I’m not, I hope the other location is cool, but if it’s not then, realistically, people will find somewhere else to express themselves.”

HOPE outdoor gallery is set to become a multifamily unit development, according to Mid-City Development.

“I don’t think it’s correct but it’s naive to think that a piece of prime real-estate wouldn’t eventually get developed one way or another,” said Brains.