graffiti

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

For well over a decade, Austinites have been calling 3-1-1 to report graffiti or a pot hole to city officials. While that’s not going away, a new way to report problems and get questions answered could offer more benefits.

For example, say you want to report that there aren’t any doggie clean-up bags at the park down the street or that there’s a pothole down the road. But, uhh, what’s the address exactly where you’re at? Austin’s 3-1-1 mobile app lets users do many of the same things that can be accomplished with a phone call.

But there are also things the app does that a phone call can’t.

Andrew Huygen for KUT

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.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT

In 1974, a group calling themselves the Austintatious Artists wanted to express themselves. So, they found a wall in West Campus and painted what would become a venerated piece of Austin public art. Since then, that mural has lived on. They even painted another one in 2003 on the south wall of the same building.

Now, younger graffiti artists are laying claim to the same walls in droves. While it's something that's happened a lot over 40 years, the University Co-Op and the artists say the murals desperately need repair or they could be lost. 

flickr.com/djhon

Update: Shortly after Ian Dille’s Slate article appeared online, he received a handwritten apology from Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler.

The band's PR company “forwarded me a handwritten note from Win Butler apologizing for the graffiti and explaining that it was supposed to be put up in chalk or water-soluble paint,” Dille tells KUT News. “And somewhere along the line, someone started using spraypaint. He said it was hard to control all the small details of such a large project.” (Read the letter below.)

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

As home to the state capitol, a flagship university and natural treasures like Barton Springs, Austin isn’t hurting for landmarks. But there’s also an underground placemaking collection: the city's street art.

There’s the “Greetings From Austin” mural on South First Street, movie stills on the old Varsity Theatre building across from campus, even the “I Love You So Much” scrawled on the side of Jo’s Coffee on South Congress Avenue.

There’s also “Jeremiah the Innocent,” more commonly known as the “Hi, How Are You?” frog. Painted by songwriter Daniel Johnston, the design was famously worn by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

Earlier this week, the frog was defaced by taggers. And while it’s not the first time that’s happened, it raises an interesting question: What happens when unofficial landmarks like Johnston’s frog – which, with its charmingly crude design could itself be mistaken for graffiti – get tagged?