In East Austin, there’s a sight more common than new condos, food trailers and Tejano bars repurposed into young, hip "dives:" It's the poster seen above.
“Artists & Hipsters: How are you helping to gentrify East Austin? What are you doing to fight it?,” the poster reads. The earliest date we can find for a photo of the poster on Flickr goes back to 2008, but longtime Austinites (including this author) remember seeing the poster even before then.
The poster has captured the attention of one eastside artist, who’s looking to create a dialogue around its message.
Aaron Bir is curator at the Phoenix Trades Depot gallery on East Fifth. “I saw these posters walking to work, daily,” he tells KUT News via email. “Between their confronting message, that could have been written directly to me and many of the people I know… and just the general changing shape of Austin, I felt I was in unique situation to respond and be active.”
To that end, Bir says his gallery is in the first steps of assembling an art show “that integrates new and old East Austin.” He envisions a gathering professional and non-professional artists of diverse backgrounds to address the issues raised by the poster, and “completely open the door to a true community art show in a nice space, and capture all the facets of what is happening here artistically. We've had two opening so far with very little of the local community stopping by. I want to go knock on their doors and ask them to come in person. Share, not exclude.”
He posted a picture of the ubiquitous poster today on the Austin page of the social sharing site Reddit, asking if anyone could help him track down the poster artist. “I want to contact that [artist] to see if they genuinely want to be part of a change in attitudes and showcase their poster as the focal piece of the show,” Bir says.” I find the poster’s plain text message to be very direct and honest. It made me think hard. I sure it does the same for other recent transplants.”
Have you seen the “Artists & Hipsters” poster up around town? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.