On Jan 30. Austin officials unanimously voted for the demolition of Hope Outdoor Gallery, famously known as Graffiti Park, and locally known as “The Foundation”. For decades, Austin locals and citizens from across Texas have traveled to the outdoor gallery to view the works of the people.
For many Texas artists, visiting Graffiti Park is pilgrimage of sorts: A place where many come together to leave their mark on the outdoor gallery. In 2011, HOPE; a collective of creatives and producers, undertook the challenge of turning the slabs of concrete which street artists would sneak into in the midst of the night, to a open gallery for all to take part in.
Ramon Ramirez is an Austin native who has been coming to graffiti park before it was a legal open gallery. A local musician, 19-year-old Ramirez was at Graffiti park on breezy bright Thursday afternoon, at his usual spot, with his guitar, singing the blues.
“It’s safe space for anybody’s and everybody’s creativity, you know?” Ramirez said. “Anybody can come here, even if they just write words, or personal symbols, it came out of somebody’s mind.”
With a city ordered demolition approaching, Ramirez claims that there has been a shift in Austin lifestyle and culture. Growing up he remembers a less crowded Austin and one that made being an artist and expressing oneself worth doing.
“Look at South Lamar, all these new buildings and living spaces, plus they want to take this lot too.” Ramirez stated. “It takes away a part of the Austin culture to put more people in the city.”
Although the current lot at 1101 Baylor St, is scheduled to be destroyed, HOPE plans to reconstruct the outdoor graffiti gallery in Austin. The team that has been running the private park for the last five years want to show its faith in Austin creativity by continuing the tradition of public street art.
Visitors posed for pictures in front of massive murals with friends, artist climbed the steep dirt hill to reach the top of concrete slabs to continue on previous pieces, and countless cameras turned in every direction to capture what would soon be gone. All the while Ramirez sat with his legs dangling off a 20-foot wall, metal strings and a wood body in his hands singing out for the gallery to hear.