Wall to wall
Hot downtown high-rise teams up with Texas artists for Austin-inspired decor
As Austin continues to take in more people, whether visiting or relocating to the Capital City, new residences have to get creative about all the coming and going. Natiivo, a sold-out condominium complex built in partnership with Airbnb in the popular Rainey Street District, is streamlining the rentals approach with built-in home-sharing management and hotel amenities.
The concept allows a compromise in an already-crowded city between luxury traveling accommodations and individual ownership. To bring in a little more local spirit, Natiivo is partnering with New York design consultancy Indiewalls to decorate the building with work created by 12 Texas artists. The multimedia works will appear throughout the building, as well as in a top-floor gallery.
The artwork follows different themes: Emily Eisenhart uses transparency to evoke the Texas sun, while Angela Navarro pays tribute to Austin with large-scale impressionist works, and Kerry Hugins creates local flowers in watercolors. The group came together from past Indiewalls projects and through organic artist searches through social media.
“I did not want to provide any guidance or strict design direction for the artists,” says Indiewalls art curator Sarah Hatahet. “I wanted to showcase the artists and their works in their purest forms to be appreciated in the same sense as one would experience them in an art gallery. I did not want the artwork to seem forced or too curated.”
A column on the 33rd floor will sport a wraparound mural from Michael W. Hall, inspired by the abstract gradient line work popular in 1970s art. The curvy shapes twist around the cylinder in reds, blues, oranges, and yellows, simultaneously crowding each other out and propelling each other up in an organic splash. The artist attributes the design to the Austin landscape visible from the high-rise.
“I looked out over the undulations of Lady Bird Lake and the swaying peaks of the cypress trees along the water’s edge, the vibrant energy of downtown and the east side, the vaulting towers of the growing skyline, and the waves of the Hill Country in the distance on the western horizon,” Hall says. “My mural concept is a response to all of these: the movement of the natural environment, the rhythm of downtown, and the upward vertical launch of our ever-growing city.”
Hall’s work is driven by similar organic lines in vivid colors, often paired with a more chaotic wood grain that complements the evenness of the painted forms. In a video with Indiewalls, he works on a tornado-inspired piece and discusses the freedom of custom-cut wood panels — a luxury he didn’t have in planning his Natiivo mural. Still, he maintains some negative space at the top of the column that allows him to avoid the blocky form.
Each artist working on the Natiivo project will make a similar video explaining their design and execution processes, and discussing local inspiration throughout their work. The series breaks down specific works in context, taking a less-common narrative angle about where pieces end up once they’re finished. Hopefully, the series helps bring Texas works to a wider audience that may know nothing of the state or its artists.
Indiewalls is uploading videos to its YouTube channel one by one as the works go up and people start moving in to Natiivo.