The murals of iconic musicians at the intersection of 24th and Guadalupe streets will be preserved with the opening of four new businesses at the location.
The original artist Federico Archuleta said he was able to preserve and touch up the paintings this weekend thanks to the support of the manager at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf that will be opening in the space. He started stenciling in 2003. That same year, he drew the mural when Tower Records owned the building, just three months before the music store went out of business and was replaced by the bookstore Intellectual Property.
Archuleta said he painted the murals as a tribute to some of his favorite artists and included portraits of music greats such as Johnny Cash, The Clash and Bob Dylan.
“I tried to tip my hat to a variety of artists, including blues, rock and country,” Archuleta said. “Right before Intellectual Property opened, I took it upon myself to redo the stencils in different colors, and that has been the version that’s been around for the past few years.”
Archuleta said he was pleased to see the artwork has remained intact throughout the years and become an iconic image in the campus community.
“The response of the public has been very supportive, and it’s inspired me to continue maintaining the murals,” he said. “These have really become the ground zero for this type of art, and people do consider it a landmark of sorts.”
Archuleta said growing up near the border in El Paso influenced his artistic style, a blend of Mexican and American pop culture. He has lived in Austin for 10 years and said people are receptive to public art such as his.
“Whether the art stands the test of time remains to be seen,” Archuleta said. “You do your labor of love and you hope somebody cares enough to value it and say it is part of the city’s heritage and should be preserved.”
He said he strives to create art that is culturally meaningful and adds visual interest to his surroundings.
“If it’s not done well, people will just see it as graffiti,” Archuleta said. “I’m more than glad to be able to do the art a third time around so a new generation of students can experience it.”
Preserving art around the city is an important part of maintaining Austin’s individuality, accounting senior Brittney Rodriguez said.
“A lot of the art around campus buildings and things that are on the drag are most memorable to me because I see them every day,” Rodriguez said. “Austin is known for its creativity in all forms of art and I think keeping these murals will help preserve the city’s characteristic of being artistic.”
Communication sciences and disorders senior Behnaz Abolmaali said she hopes to see the culture of public art continue to thrive in the Central Austin area to differentiate it from more traditional suburban neighborhoods.
“I’ve lived in Austin my whole life, and these pieces of art are Austin fixtures,” Abolmaali said. “I would be glad to see the paintings be touched up and stick around for more years to come.”
Printed on 07/18/2011 as: Pop Art Preservation