Every few weeks, I set out on two wheels to check out murals throughout downtown Austin.
This morning, I knocked out 30 miles and uncovered some art I hadn’t seen before. I wanted to focus my search on East 11th Street, where a giant yellow “Black Artists Matter” was painted last month. (A huge Black Austin Matters mural is also painted on Congress Avenue.)
But first, I stopped at the top of Doug Sahm Hill on West Riverside Drive to get an overview of the city. From there, I hopped on the boardwalk and rolled east to Interstate 35 overpass, where I crossed and headed north.
Black Artists Matter stretches for an entire block on 11th Street, between Waller and Lydia streets. Capitol View Arts and the Austin Justice Coalition teamed up to install the mural. Along a fence on the north side of the street, a series of smaller paintings also promotes black artists.
It’s not part of the series, but I’ve always liked the groovy painting of a cowboy hippie wielding a can of spray paint, by El Federico, on the south side of the street. (El Federico also painted the “Lover/Hater” mural on East Cesar Chavez street I’ve mentioned in past articles.)
Farther west, John Yancy’s bright-as-a-sunrise, 50-foot mosaic, “Rhapsody,” at Dr. Charles E. Urdy Plaza at East 11th and Waller Streets, honors the city’s jazz scene, once centered right here. Urdy is a former professor at Huston-Tillotson College who served five terms on the Austin City Council.
But my favorite of the day? The mural of hand-in-hand people (oh, pre-Covid I miss you!) on the side of the African American Cultural District building on East 11th Street, painted by artist Ryan Runcie. The mural, according to Runcie’s website, is a symbol of hope. “It is a signpost that good will always overcome evil,” he says. It depicts Austin notables Deitrich Hamilton, Johnny Holmes, Doris Miller, Dorothy Turner, Gary Clark Jr., Mikaela Ulmer and Charles Overton.
I hopped to the other side of Interstate 35 for the cruise back home, pausing on Red River Street to admire a few other murals I’ve never noticed.
Mike “Truth” Johnston painted the spaceman reaching for a slice of pizza on a cement retaining wall behind Brick Oven Pizza at 1209 Red River Street.
Adjacent to that is a mural of a red whale, knotted up in ropes. I couldn’t find the artist’s name.