Stray from the beaten path for these innovative SXSW events

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Photo Credit: Nathan Burchard | Daily Texan Staff

Film, music and interactive events form the foundation of any good South By Southwest festival experience — but if you’re looking to diversify your schedule, the following artworks and galleries are especially innovative. Listen to your inner artist and detour slightly off the beaten path, because this art deserves a block of time on even the busiest schedule.

SXSW Eco Light Garden

Get lost in the midst of glowing LED lights at the SXSW Eco Light Garden, an interactive public art project that bridges innovative light technology with landmark art. The light show runs from Sunday to March 21 at Republic Square Park. 

Colorful neon lights are the most prominent feature of the garden, and visitors can walk both on and among the displays. With towering light structures and bright colors, the Eco Light Garden gives off an otherworldly vibe while simultaneously showcasing the latest developments in efficient LED technologies. During SXSW, the garden will feature projects from various art studios and advanced lighting companies such as Lumenpulse, Ink Tank Art Collective and Houndstooth Studio. 

The Sailor Jerry Gallery

Ever been inked? If you like your tattoo, you probably have Sailor Jerry to thank. Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, known as the godfather of the American tattoo, will have his art featured in “The Sailor Jerry Gallery: The Original Artwork of Norman Collins,” a collection making its American debut at SXSW. The exhibition includes Collins’ original flash — or tattoo designs — art and sketches influenced by elements of Southeast Asian culture he encountered during his travels at sea. 

Collins’ depictions of hula girls, bottles of booze, dice, pistons, birds of prey and nautical imagery are extremely popular in Hawaii, where his last studio was located. The collection premieres Thursday and runs through March 21. 

SXSW’s Impossible Wall Project

Between the “Hi How Are You” frog and the “i love you so much” wall, what else is as distinctly Austin as brightly colored graffiti gracing otherwise unremarkable walls? In the spirit of creating art, SXSW has partnered with POW! WOW! Hawaii and sprATX to paint over dull, blank spaces around the city. The central event of the week will bring together more than 100 local and international artists to collaborate and create murals, transforming some of Austin’s still-blank walls into enriching works of art. 

POW! WOW! originated as a week-long event in Hawaii that has since expanded internationally, promoting appreciation for art through lectures, gallery shows and art installations. 

Hello Lamp Post: Austin

“What do you think is Austin’s biggest claim to fame?” Soon enough, you might be getting text messages like these, but not from your human friends — instead, from the fire hydrant down the street. “Hello Lamp Post” is a new city-wide project that combines technology and art to encourage interaction between pedestrians and objects dubbed “street furniture,” such as lampposts, telephone poles, parking meters, mail boxes or any structure with an identifier code. 

Hello Lamp Post was inspired by the idea of the city as a diary. The game goes like this: A passerby picks an object with a code, texts the number with a “hello” and begins a text conversation with the object. Created by London-based PAN Studio and commissioned by the City of Austin in partnership with Art Alliance Austin, the goal of the project is to encourage people to rediscover environments that already
feel familiar.