Feb 28, 2014

‘Austintatious’ Artists Set to Repair Their Iconic Mural

An iconic Austin mural was defaced early January by tagging. Attempts were made to clean the graffiti. The original artists are scheduled to begin restoring the mural on March 15. Photo by Victoria Acevedo.

The original artists of an iconic, 1976 Austin mural are scheduled to begin restoring it on March 15 after it was defaced by taggers. Photo by Victoria Acevedo.

By Jamie Pross
For Reporting Texas

AUSTIN — The artists who drew a famous mural on Guadalupe Street will begin restoring the defaced artwork on March 15, using crowd funding to raise $30,000 for the work.

The mural, located on the University of Texas Co-op’s north wall facing the Renaissance Market, was extensively tagged with graffiti in early January. Lt. Tyson McGowan of the Austin Police Department said no suspects have emerged since the incident.

The mural dates from 1976, when University of Texas art students Kerry Awn, Tom Bauman and Rick Turner drew the sprawling depiction of Texas founder Stephen F. Austin. He stands holding two armadillos amid city landmarks like the Capitol and UT Tower.

“They had left it alone pretty much all these years,” Awn said. “It has been a long time. They do need to be repainted.”

Awn and Bauman still live in Austin, and Turner will fly in from New York for the restoration, which Awn said is expected to last about 10 weeks. The three, known as the Austintatious group, will also repair their 2003 mural on another wall facing the market, where craft vendors sell their wares. Both murals were defaced in January.

Brian Jewell, vice president of marketing at the Co-op, said it will be helping helping the artists promote their online fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.com. More than $3,500 has been raised so far.

“We need to restore it,” said Jewell. “It is just one small piece of what makes Austin, Austin. It is our inherent responsibility on our building.”

The murals have been cleaned as thoroughly as possible with the help of the Austin Youth Development Program, a city project that employs and mentors struggling young people. Julia Narum, the program supervisor, said her crew tried to remove enough graffiti for the artists to see their original work.

Tagging Austin’s many public murals has become something of a sport for some of the city’s graffiti artists. Statistics from the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department indicate more than 14,000 tagging complaints over the past two years, though the figures don’t indicate which tags were on murals.

In late December, a woman was arrested after painting an obscenity on the well-known “Hi, How Are You?” mural at the corner of Guadalupe and 21st Street, two blocks south of Renaissance Market. It has since been repaired.

Olly Brown, a 21-year-old UT engineering major from San Leon, said tagging is an unconventional creative outlet that should steer clear of existing art.

“I always respect the space of other artists,” he said. “A painter wouldn’t walk into a museum and paint over an existing painting. The same applies to tagging.”