HOPE Outdoor Gallery – Austin, Texas - Atlas Obscura
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Austin, Texas

HOPE Outdoor Gallery

This failed condo development was reborn as a street art hub. 

Tucked away in downtown Austin, Texas, this abandoned construction project was meant to become a condominium. That fate is still creeping up on it, but in the meantime, the bare walls and foundation have been repurposed for a more imaginative project: an colorful public art gallery in a state of constant morph.

In the mid-1980s, a failed building attempt left the Baylor Street hillside studded with copious slabs of blank cement. Soon, graffiti artists from all over the city began spraying and tagging there, nicknaming it “The Foundation.”

This drew the attention of HOPE, a nonprofit production group that connects creative people with various social causes. With the permission of the property-owners, HOPE removed decades of weeds and debris, and rechristened the space. In 2011, they opened to the public for spraying and mural-painting. 

On any given day, hundreds of people now clamber around the slabs, gazing at other people’s work or making their own. The gallery has hosted concerts, music video shoots, and countless selfies. For years, the property owners paid taxes on the land in order to support this free art space.

But all good things must come to an end. In 2017, the hill that the gallery sits on was sold to a developer. HOPE is opening a new space about 10 miles to the southeast, and the original slabs will be demolished by spring of 2019, taking innumerable layers of paint with them.