Some Graffiti Is Worth Preserving
By Kelly Connelly
Austin’s graffiti landmarks are a source of pride for many locals. Though it’s illegal, many budding artists use empty walls as their canvases. And some street art is even commissioned. But what happens when graffiti itself is graffitied?
Morning commuters headed north on Guadalupe Street often get a glimpse of an iconic frog at the corner of 21st Street. But this week, the drawing, known as the “Hi, How Are You Frog,” was defaced. The frog was drawn by Austin musician Daniel Johnston.
Rodney Ahert, executive director of Keep Austin Beautiful, a group that helps clean up tags, says cleaning graffiti can build community.
“When people see the graffiti that’s on a fence or a home, your community has been kind of violated,” Ahert said.
But Dick Clark says it’s not that simple. He owns a lot at 11th and Baylor that, at this point, is essentially a bunch of walls with graffiti on them. Construction for his development stalled, so he opened the lot up for a community improvement project.
“The dilemma with graffiti is that it is temporary; it’s painted on something like concrete or bar or wood,” Clark said. “It’s a different art form.”
This isn’t the first time the iconic frog has been vandalized.
Normally, the city is responsible for cleaning up graffiti. But through an agreement between the city and Johnston, the artist has been tasked with maintaining the image.
The Johnston family say they plan on cleaning up the image in the coming months.