Only a few years ago, HOPE Outdoor Gallery (HOG) was nonexistent. Deteriorating concrete slabs, remnants of condemned condos, topped the Castle Hill property overlooking Lamar. Visionaries and the generosity of property owners transformed the 1.25 acre lot into a creative wonderland. The Austin Chronicle put it best describing HOG as “a local treasure, an open secret, and a destination for tourists who’ve seen stunning images of the gallery on Facebook and Instagram.”
Once upon a time, I was one of those tourist. Still living in Houston, my first visit to HOG was back in August 2014. I day-tripped to Austin for a job interview that ended in utter disappointed. With a crushed spirit, I made it a point to stop at the graffiti park before my two-and-a-half hour drive back to Houston. I had seen magnificent images of HOG on Instagram, and as its name suggests, I had hope it would lift my mood. As soon as I drove up the steep hill on W. 10th Street, my eyes caught sight of the artistic wonder, even grander than I imagined. All negative thoughts began to dissipate. In my high-heels and interview dress, I climbed a few concrete slabs and stumbled upon a fated painted message that read Don’t Worry, Be Happy:). I smiled from ear to ear. For that moment, life’s stresses were abandoned and the entire day was salvaged.
Months later, I landed a dream job that brought me back to Austin, a city I knew I belonged. Today, I frequent HOG regularly as new surprises and masterpieces greet me at every visit. No composition stays more than a few days. HOG reminds me, just as its art is fleeting, so are life’s disappoints and troubles.