KEEPING HOPE ALIVE
Austin's beloved public art park keeps hope alive with ambitious move
Keep your chin up, folks. Some hope is taking root in Austin.
HOPE Outdoor Gallery, the expansive public arts project with ties to revered artist Shepard Fairey and once celebrated internationally as a culturally iconic, if not diminutive, graffiti park in Clarksville, will open in its new location near the Austin airport this summer.
Upon completion, HOPE Outdoor Gallery will span nearly 18 acres off Dalton Lane near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and act as an open-air cultural events center, art park, and technology gallery. The project, which broke ground in June 2019 but was paused in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, also aspires to provide access to public arts and education, support jobs and equity opportunities, and create economic support programs for local artists, creatives, business owners, and production companies that lost significant revenue during the global shutdown.
On track to become the largest earthen-built structure in Texas history, the new HOPE Outdoor Gallery will include a unique “HOPE” layout that will be visible to planes flying into the Austin airport, offering visitors a positive first impression of the city.
“When SXSW 2020 was canceled, the future for the events and production industry in Austin was uncertain,” says Andi Scull, HOPE Outdoor Gallery founder and creative director. “Our team saw the importance of taking the time to listen and see that we could be more supportive of the creative class in our city by including more economic and educational aspects to our outdoor art park and tech gallery. We agreed that waiting to see the impact this would have on all the cultural arts groups would be critical, too. We’re so grateful to be able to open our art park for Austin and the creative community.”
Key to the project is an emphasis on reducing its environmental impact. With the knowledge that the new park will rest atop debris from myriad previous construction projects, organizers are making a statement by reusing much of the dirt on the site to create the park walls, which HOPE Outdoor Gallery notes matches the project’s relocation theme: “These walls bring us together.”
Ecological elements will be added throughout the park, which also boasts an array of environmentally friendly components, from solar panels and rainwater-collection stations to 3D-printed garbage cans, and a bee apiary.
With walls comprised of 40,000 earth blocks, the art park will also include a curated mural gallery, practice paint walls, interactive installations, and creative technology components. The space will host cultural events, and Austin restaurateur and HOPE Outdoor Gallery partner CK Chin will oversee the beverage and food program, which will include coffee, beer, wine cocktails, and snacks, as well as select grab-n-go food options.
The art park’s 12 repurposed shipping containers will allow it to support artists and creatives through a variety of programs and the rebrand the HOPE Farmers Market to HOPE Market for Sunday programming.
And in a nod to the gallery’s deep roots in Austin, the newly relocated art park will also feature a memorial wall from the original Baylor Street location, as well as a bricked walkway that includes the names of Austin residents and art supporters who have donated to the project.
“The outdoor gallery concept is utopian, not because every artist gets along, but because it yields diversity by providing an opportunity for those with creative drive and ingenuity rather than power and resources,” says Shepard Fairey, graphic artist, social activist, and longtime supporter of HOPE. “Empowerment is infectious, and the electricity from a space like the HOPE Outdoor Gallery creates a chain reaction of excitement and participation. Whether one is there to take an art class, take part in a charity event, party, or paint a wall, there is no question that the HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a community incubator.”