Discover: Grotto Wall at Sparky Park

By Kat Barclay – June 1, 2018

Among a city full of unique artwork on display, the Grotto Wall is both purposeful and playful.

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Local artist Berthold Haas brought this saying to life with an eclectic, whimsical wall of art at a former 1930s Austin electric substation turned pocket park known as Sparky Park. 

The idea for the wall began when the North University Neighborhood Association began brainstorming plans to redevelop the site three years before its opening in 2008. After earning funds from the City of Austin’s Art in Public Places Program, as well as from the wireless companies who installed cell towers in the park, Haas was selected to create the wall in order to hide the eyesore that is the former substation. 

The “Grotto Wall” is a display of intricate and touchable designs of trees, a globe, and the words “Sparky Park” all made from various materials including karst stones, aggregates, mirror balls, slag glass, broken dishes, ammonites, and other shells. It also includes painted stucco, petrified wood, molded cement frieze, marbles, and repurposed ceramic disc insulators. 
With plenty of shade to keep you cool even in the summer heat, this quaint and convivial park is the epitome of Austin culture and a free adventure for those who appreciate follies. Find this spot at 3701 Grooms St.  



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