On the corner of Guadalupe Street and 21st Street in Austin, a friendly frog mural greets all who pass by. The city is full of murals both simple and elaborate, and this one, created by the musician Daniel Johnston, may be the perfect representation of Austin’s unique culture and distinctly local music scene.
Johnston was a singer-songwriter active in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s who became influential in the outsider, lo-fi and alternative music scenes. The cover of his 1983 cassette album “Hi, How Are You- The Unfinished Album” featured a strange, frog-like creature that was hand-drawn by Johnston himself.
The building on the corner of Guadalupe and 21st housed a record store called Sound Exchange, which had long been a big part of Austin’s music scene. In 1993, Sound Exchange’s store manager Craig Koon commissioned Johnston to paint a mural on the side of the building, and Johnston chose to paint a variation on his album artwork from 10 years earlier. He called it “Jeremiah the Innocent Frog.”
Sound Exchange closed in 2003, and a Baja Fresh restaurant moved into the space. After fans rallied at the site, the new owner agreed to save the mural. From 2013 to 2019, the building housed a restaurant called Thai, How Are You (with Johnston’s approval). The building was sold again in 2018, but the new owners have committed to preserving the mural during their redevelopment.
In 2018, Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler declared January 22 to be “Hi, How Are You” Day in an effort to celebrate mental wellness. Johnston died in September 2019, and the mural became an impromptu memorial where fans came to pay their respects.
Know Before You Go
The mural is located at the corner of Guadalupe Street and 21st Street. It is open to all.