Austin
3:08 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Artists Restore Iconic Guadalupe St. Murals, Despite Limited Funds

The original artists behind two iconic murals in West Campus are restoring their work after the murals were defaced with graffiti. But the costly repairs to the University Co-op mural could be delayed, due to a steep price tag.  

While the Co-op pitched some money towards repainting the murals, they couldn't provide enough for the entire $30,000 overhaul. So the murals' artists have taken to the Web, starting an online campaign to fund the restoration – although a fast-approaching deadline could sideline the effort.

The 23rd Street Artists’ Market on Guadalupe Street has been home to the "Austintatious Mural" (also known as the Stephen F. Austin mural) since 1974. Painted by the Austintatious Artists collective of Kerry Awn, Tom Bauman and Rick Turner, the mural depicts the Texas Capitol, the UT Tower and the Ritz Theater, among other local sights. In 2003, the same three artists painted the neighboring "Mural of Texas," which shows the landscape of the state of Texas and highlights various state landmarks.

Both murals were done in collaboration with the University of Texas Co-op, which provided the supplies necessary to complete the works of art.

In early January of this year, graffiti artists defaced the southern wall. It was just one in a string of graffiti vandalism that have occurred in the past few months.

The artists began a campaign on crowdsourcing fundraiser Indiegogo with the goal of raising $30,000. So far, the Co-op pitched in $5,000 in seed money and, today, the total campaign has raised $19,255 a week out from its deadline. 

Brian Jewell, the vice-president of marketing at the University Co-op, is confident that the campaign will reach its goal.

“Any grassroots effort takes time,” Jewell says. “Did everyone want it to be at $30,000 in the first few weeks? Sure. But it takes time. The amount is approaching $20,000. That is great considering the size of most of the donations. Yes, we are hopeful that the final days will see a major push to the final goal.”

The prospect of the campaign not being fully funded hasn't wandered from Bauman’s mind, but he hopes for a surge in donations towards the end of the campaign.

“Whether the campaign becomes fully funded or not, we’re going to restore this thing,” Bauman says. “So the question becomes, how much do we do, and where do we stop? In the end, it would be, 'Okay, well we have this amount of money; we can afford to be here this many weeks,' and we plan accordingly.”

After the artists finish restoring the murals, they plan to apply a coating that will prevent any new paint —graffiti or otherwise — from sticking to the surface. This revelation was bittersweet to Bauman.

“That’s good, but then you have to remember that this mural is 40 years old,” Bauman says. “This is the fourth time that we have painted on this wall. Every time we paint on this wall, we add stuff, we update stuff.”

Despite the frustration of  having one’s artwork vandalized, Bauman was surprised that it took as long as it did.

“It’s just extraordinary that this mural has lasted as long as it has,” Bauman says. "I think it’s kind of a testament to the amount of enjoyment that people that people have gotten from this one that it has lasted so long without being tagged.”

Jewell says that's because the murals represent the soul of Austin. 

"Murals like this are what it means when we say, ‘This is what makes Austin, Austin,’" Jewell says. "This is where this city came from 40 years ago. This is what we tell our children and our children’s children what makes Austin what it is.”

Below, watch artist Kerry Awn make the case in a fundraising video: