Murals are a big part of what makes Austin, Austin. There are even tours you can take around town to take pictures in front of the most famous murals. Public art is an important part of this city and its roots run deep here. The city has a program as part of the Economic Development Department dedicated to public art called the “Art in Public Places” program. But what are the benefits of public art such as murals?
The simplest answer as to how murals benefit a city is that they are a beautiful new aspect to an otherwise uninteresting wall. What was once mundane and ordinary is now an attraction for tourists. It can draw people in which also draws in business. For example, the “I love you so much” mural at Jo’s Coffee on South Congress brings in new business every day. It’s also part of the history of the coffee shop now and as a result Austin itself.
Artists all over Austin are hired to create murals on outside and inside walls of businesses. This system keeps artists working. Art From the Streets even has AFTS artists (Hugh Miles, Mark Abelli, Larry Williams, Clifton Hayes and Jefferson Bright) participating in a commissioned mural at Integral Care in the new Terrace at Oak Springs homeless apartment complex.
Murals that stand the test of time can memorialize artists even after they have passed. This year the singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston, also known for the “Hi, How are You Mural” on The Drag, passed away. But his music and art live on forever captured in the hearts of his supporters and fans.
For tight knit communities like those of East Austin, murals are more than just paintings. They are a symbol of the community and representative of the community themselves. As more and more businesses move in to East Austin, residents are fighting to make sure the murals they love stay undisturbed. These iconic murals have even been recognized by the City of Austin in an official East Austin mural tour. Every day that a mural is infamously painted over residents rally to have it restored.
Murals are also a way to show your pride in your city. There are several murals around town that make great backdrops for a photo to show everyone how much you love living here such as the “Greetings from Austin” mural on South 1st and the 6th Street Austin mural on 6th and I-35.