WEB EXCLUSIVE: Collaborating on a Hopeful Vision for Baylor Street
Do you recognize the location of November’s “Muscle Movement of the Month” photo shoot? That’s the Art Wall, located near 11th and Baylor (it’s official name is the Local to Global Outdoor Gallery Project but it’s more commonly referred to as the HOPE Outdoor Gallery). The walls of an abandoned condo project are home to local street art from a variety of creators, some completely unknown and others, such as Shepard Fairey, quite famous. HOPE, a local nonprofit whose acronym stands for “Helping Other People Everywhere,” has worked with the site’s owners, Dick Clark Architecture and Castle Hill Partners, to haul off trash and clean the place up. HOPE’s aim is “to develop local to global messages that enable our artists and musicians the ability to encourage others to participate and learn about important issues, groups, and events focused on education.” One of their projects that many Austinites are familiar with is the HOPE Farmers’ Market on East 5th Street. On the October Wednesday evening that Austin Fit Magazine filmed Diane Vives’ inspiring workout, tourists clambered up and down the weedy levels to view the Baylor Street artwork.
Clayton Lillard and Taylor Kirk were at the Art Wall as well—not as tourists but as philanthropists with a vision. The two helped found Collabnart, a production company and artists’ collective, whose goal is “to maintain philanthropic ethos.” They did a benefit show for HOPE and are working to help spread the word among the artistic community about the informal rules that help police the site at Baylor Street. Lillard is no stranger to philanthropy; as a fifth grader in San Antonio, he started a project called “Clayton’s Backyard Crew” which worked to donate new and used bikes to children whose parents were in prison. Since 1999, Lillard’s organization has supplied over 1,200 bikes to these children. Lillard is unassuming and dismissive of his accomplishments but that youthful desire to do good works in his community grew as he matured and led him to place a Craig’s List ad for other like-minded artists when he moved to Austin. Through it, he met Kirk (a visual and aural artist) as well as two other young men, Matthew Gutierrez and Eric Lara, who wanted to create an infrastructure for artists to help provide a focus on collaborative methods. Collabnart was born.
What specifically brought Lillard and Taylor out to Baylor Street? Taylor explained that Austin is on “a precipice—commerce or arts?” and they want to work to help preserve the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. They’d love to see the venue at Baylor Street become a safe outdoor workstation for street artists. “Look at the view here,” Lillard pointed out, gesturing east towards an incredible panoramic view of downtown Austin. He described a vision of an urban park with steps leading from the street to the highest wall, providing safe access for painters as well as another creative fitness venue. He painted a picture of athletes using the stairs for repeats and languidly practicing Tai Chi and yoga on the flat, grassy, trash-free landings while painters worked to create statements and beauty. Sounds like a uniquely Austin kind of place, doesn’t it?
To read more about HOPE visit www.hopecampaign.fatcow.com
To learn more about Collabnart, visit them on Facebook (COLLABnART) or reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org