HOPE Outdoor Gallery is the only paint park of its kind!
Words by Jessica Hagemann Photos by Joan Brook
On Monday, the walls depict a boy reading a book, branches growing out of his forehead like the tree of knowledge. On Tuesday, he’s become a giant pink whale flashing a toothy grin. By Wednesday, red and white painted mushrooms sprout from the city’s skyline, as a David Bowie mural closes his eyes in silent reflection. These are the ever-shifting scenes of HOPE Outdoor Gallery (HOG): an innovative art space and community incubator.
Driving or walking by, you might have seen the HOG rear up out of its otherwise quiet, residential milieu at 11th and Baylor Streets. You might have slowed to do a double-take, unsure which part of the arresting canvas to take in first. Is it art, or vandalism? you might have wondered. Protest, showcase, or celebration?
The answer is all of the above.
Founded in 2010 by HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) Events, a nonprofit originally dedicated to raising awareness about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, HOPE Outdoor Gallery was built on the bones of an abandoned Austin construction site. It’s the only paint park of its kind in the U.S. and was developed to provide muralists, street artists, arts education classes, and community groups the opportunity to display large-scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive, and educational messaging.
The product of efforts by several local artists, under the creative direction of Shephard Fairey (a contemporary graffiti artist and Time Magazine cover designer), today the gallery attracts over 500 visitors daily. As Andi Scull Cheatham, Founder and Executive Producer of HOPE Events, describes it, “This two-trick pony is not just a spot for tourists wishing to visit the muse, but a unique community of creatives who have defined the visual culture of our great city.”
Two of the Austin artists who have contributed to the gallery’s impermanent images include Nathan “Sloke” Nordstrom and female stencil artist Niz. When he’s not teaching art to Austin’s youth, Nordstrom can be found shaking a can of spray paint. According to Niz’s website, her ethereal portraits “are meant to connect us with the magic in nature and the mythos in every day life.”
After seven years, the paint park will be relocating to east Austin, where Cheatham says HOG will continue to “show off the weird and vibrant energy unique to Austin.”
Native Knowledge: More than just artists, HOPE also brings together farmers, small business owners, and local cultural icons. The HOPE Farmers Market (the first farmers market in east Austin!) meets every Sunday from 11am-3pm at Plaza Saltillo (E. 5th and Comal). Come on out to support East Austin farmers, increase access to healthy food, and dance to live music!
Bring the HOPE Outdoor Gallery home with you!
Meet the walls up close and gain access to 50 community-sourced stories without ever stepping foot outside your door. $60 will get you a copy of HOPE Event’s second art book and incomparable visual archive, “These Walls Can Talk!” Visit hopeoutdoorgallery.com.
HOPE Events Office
1111 E. 2nd St. 78702
HOPE Outdoor Gallery
1101 Baylor St. 78703
HOPE Farmers Market
412 Comal St. 78702