“Graffiti Park” at Castle Hill: Keeping Austin Weird…at least through June

Castle Hill, topped with the old Texas Military Institute (TMI) “castle” has been around since 1870. “Grafitti Park” below it, though, is a 2011 South By Southwest (SXSW) art exhibit that has obviously been wildly popular. Visitors are invited to bring their own spray paint and paint away. Even though David and I both went to law school in Austin, we were surprised and intrigued to stumble across the graffiti-covered park while looking for a parking spot the past Friday near favorite restaurant Wink. With the sun sinking low, lots of people clambered over the brightly painted walls.

Always curious, I had to look up this strange and popular park–otherwise I’d have had no idea about its SXSW origins. The park is officially known as HOPE Outdoor Gallery. For those few unfamiliar with the ever-growing event, SXSW is a huge annual festival that started back in the 80’s as a music/conference event and has expanded over the decades to include interactive media and film. In looking into Graffiti Park, I also learned that it’s been slated for destruction, a victim to Austin’s rampant (and city-ruining, IMHO) growth.

If Austin’s in your plans and grafitti in a funky Austin setting is your thing, head to 1008 Baylor St. in Austin before the end of June when it will be bulldozed. The good news is the park will be reopened in East Austin. Six acres of Carson Ranch have already been bought for a new Graffiti Park near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Plans are for 48,470 square feet of graffiti-able wall space. The new space looks to be sleek, new and still fun, but unavoidably lacking in castle and that charming old Austin weirdness.

I just had to share a quick post on this bit of Texas quirkiness. It’s got its issues, but I love my home state! David and I have been enjoying some downtime before our upcoming 3-month around-the-world extravaganza (leaving next week!). I haven’t been posting on Wanderwiles lately, but plan to get back to it on this trip. Our plans include 21+ hours of first class Korean Air flights, Singapore, Indonesia (Bali and Java for a few weeks), a month on a ship from Singapore to Italy (including Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Oman, UAE, Jordan, a Suez Canal passage & Greece). After a Perugia farm, small-town Tuscany and Florence, we’ll wind up with a few-weeks return to our beloved Antwerp, Belgium. As always, comments, suggestions and questions are more than welcome! – Tamara

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