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Austin's beloved graffiti park looks for a new home

HOPE Outdoor Gallery outgrows its crowded spot

When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that the HOPE Outdoor Gallery aka Graffiti Park has lasted at its Castle Hill location as long as it has (six years and counting). Now, as The Austin Chronicle reported Friday, it’s looking for a new home.

The beloved and well-known park has already stayed put longer than anyone expected it to. In 2010, the Chronicle noted, Andi Scull Cheatham established the park—a steep, stair-stepped lot full of concrete walls and wild vegetation, abandoned mid-construction in the 1980s—as a place for street artists and others to paint, over and over, according to their latest bursts of creativity.

Property owner Vic Ayad, reported the Chronicle, had plans to develop it that were waylaid during the 2008 financial crisis. In the meantime, a couple of things happened, according to the article. One is that Ayad, who has an office on the hill above the site, became enchanted by the artful, ever-changing landscape and helped HOPE gallery, which runs the park, pay for things like security and trash removal. (He also continued to pay taxes on the prime property—no small sum—through the years.)

The other significant event to affect the park is that it became popular—wildly so. It’s now a tourist destination that attracts hordes of international visitors as well as a popular spot for locals to visit, climb, take selfies at, and maybe even paint, since it’s changing all the time.

That popularity, unfortunately, made it incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood. The park is one block west of the ridiculously gridlocked section of North Lamar Boulevard between West 12th and West 10th streets, as well as being part of the older residential neighborhood, with narrow streets and limited parking options, behind it. The park’s many visitors exacerbated an already overwhelming traffic and parking situation. It’s time for the “temporary experiment,” as Cheatham called it in the article, to move on.

Cheatham told the Chronicle she would move it even if she didn’t have to—she sees the change as an inevitable part of the park’s evolution, and she praises Ayad’s support and appreciation over the years. As the article notes, the story doesn’t fit the evil-developer-versus-scrappy-indie-artists narrative many Austinites find appealing. As is the case with many locals, it’s just time to move on.

Austin’s Popular Gallery of Graffiti Searches for a New Location [The Austin Chronicle]