HOPE Outdoor Gallery: 2017

I’m happy to report that the HOPE Outdoor Gallery is still thriving at Baylor and 11th Streets. This outdoor community paint park is on the site of an abandoned condo project. The site’s many concrete walls are perfect for creating large-scale street art. The place is managed (but not owned) by the non-profit, Helping Other People Everywhere (HOPE).

I wrote my first blog entry about this unique location back in November 2013. I still visit the gallery when I’m in the neighborhood, but rarely see anyone else there. So, I was shocked to encounter a crowd when I took some out-of-town visitors to the gallery on a recent Sunday afternoon. I guess the HOPE Outdoor Gallery is now a popular Austin tourist attraction.

We watched three artists paint over a large wall to create a baby-blue background for their murals. The woman stepped back every few minutes to check her proportions, but the two guys just continued with confidence. One of them wore a respirator mask—a good idea with all those paint fumes in the air.

Lots of kids were spray-painting the walls and slabs up on the top of the hill. We had to be careful where we walked because some of the slabs were still wet. Anyone can sign up to paint at the site, even children with parental approval. I have conflicting thoughts about whether kids should be learning how to use a can of spray paint.

This site has an unobstructed view of the Austin skyline. A new apartment building is going up across the street. Sooner or later some enterprising developer will likely build on the old condo site, too. A HOPE volunteer told us that the organization is already making plans to start a new paint park to a yet-to-be-announced location in East Austin.

The three artists were making good progress when we returned to the bottom of the hill. The woman was obviously creating a face. The two men seemed to be writing stylized letters, although we wondered if the brown one would turn into seahorses.

The L-O-V-E letters provided a popular backdrop for photos. That gold paint looked cool, but it was still wet.

We decided to return the next day to see how those murals turned out. Fortunately, they hadn’t been painted over. A face surrounded by two words, we think. Definitely not seahorses…

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