On Graffiti Park

Look, I’ve been in Austin 9 years or so now and I’ve never once played the “It’s not as good as it used to be” card, so give me a moment here. I love Graffiti Park. I love it so much that I’ve made up its name rather than try to remember its real one.

Now we know it’s being demolished to make way for more apartments for people from California, it feels even more essential. And so, one last Sunday morning, my wife and I make a final pilgrimage.

It’s everything we hope for.

As we pull up, there’s a couple of what I believe are commonly referred to as “sketchy types” hanging around. There’s also a trio of students with a tripod but no obvious camera. They’re just calling each other “bro” beyond the level at which such behavior is ironically amusing, and getting in the way of my photographing.

A man is there with (I’m going to presume) his three kids. They all have face masks on to stop them breathing in the fumes from the paint cans they’re carrying. The man paints a rough heart shape on a step while one of his kids sprays idly up a column, sending most of the paint up into the air and into my lungs.

Small groups of people come, take photos, and leave. I try to get as much of it as I can. Graffiti parks are oddly frustrating in that anyone is free to paint anything anywhere. So, there’s often great-looking works of true art half-hidden by someone spraying their name or, as my wife noted, crude penis shapes.

She spends most of the time taking pictures of as many of these essential indicators of civilization she can find. It was quite an endeavor and I don’t doubt she’ll qualify for a grant for a show so fancy and high class that I won’t be allowed in.

The sketchy couple turn out to be sellers of (maybe) hand-made jewelry, and they’re cool because they have a little dog, Charlie, who seems content to wander around or sit under a tree. Charlie is living the life.

I similarly wander while my wife works diligently on her new hobby. I hop gingerly across the low-walls, avoiding any sharp points and wondering when I last had a tetanus shot.

And I get to take photos like this:

We’re going to miss you, Graffiti Park.


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