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Evolutionary Art

Back in Austin’s roaring 80s, developers planned a condo project on Baylor Street overlooking downtown Austin. After starting the project they realized the foundation of the hillside would not sustain a building, so they quit.

Thirty years later the abandoned site, located below the historic Texas Military Institute Castle, had become home to the homeless, and walls of the ruins displayed smatterings of graffiti.

A woman named Andi Scull Cheatham had a wonderful idea and arranged with the landowners to allow a bonafide street artist, Shepard Fairey, to turn the site into a work of art. Eventually, the Baylor Street site was named HOPE Outdoor Gallery, and artists who had gotten permission were welcome to add to the artwork

The gallery in the 1100 block of Baylor is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Austin. In considering a photo project for the first online issue of the Austin Sun, I decided to photograph the site. But wait! It’s changed. It looks more like trash graffiti to me now.

I’m not comfortable criticizing anyone’s attempt at making art, but it looks to me as though now, anyone who wants to play with a can of spray paint has taken the opportunity to do just that. In addition to my recent photos of the Baylor Street murals, I’ve included images that I made in 2012 and 2013. You, the viewer, can be the judge of the current art. What is art anyway?

All photographs: Ave Bonar @ 2016

Ave Bonar is an Austin based photographer.


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