It's been a staple in Austin for the past seven years: the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, a color-splashed destination founded by the HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) Campaign that has drawn both national and international acclaim since it launched at SXSW in 2011. Now it's moving—and the 2.0 version looks to be bigger and better than ever.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, the gallery will relocate to a six-acre area at Carson Creek Ranch by the airport in 2018. In addition to a larger designated wall space for artwork, there will be art classes for kids and adults, food trucks and a café. Parking and restrooms will both be available—a far cry from the crowded residential parking at the current gallery. Designed by the Austin architecture firm Chioco Design, the space hopes to have paintable surfaces and a park ready for the public by June, with completion of the outdoor gallery scheduled for the end of 2018. Meanwhile, the current gallery on Baylor St will remain open until June.
Last month, we chatted with HOPE founder and executive producer Andi Scull Cheatham for our current issue. She shared with us stories from the early gallery days, and what it's going to feel like when the gallery eventually moves:
How did the HOPE campaign begin?
I went to UT through the creative sequence in advertising. I started this art movement called Burn the Box, showcasing artists in real estate on the first of every month. It was very new. It was like a secret party that you didn’t know about until you got the invite on Thursday. I ended up taking that to Los Angeles and turning it into a nonprofit called HOPE events. I had charities wanting to connect with the show. So I’m in LA, and I meet Shepard Fairey through a project with Kobe Bryant. I came up with this idea of the HOPE Campaign, and we launched the HOPE campaign together to bring attention to Darfur. From there it kind of grew.
How did you find out about the current gallery space?
I moved back to Austin and started the HOPE Farmers Market. Within months a market friend who lived in Clarksville said, "Would you come look at these walls; I think there could be art on them and we could promote the farmers market." I went there and was like, Are you kidding me? This is way more than posters and promotion. This is massive, I don’t even know if we can do this. I talked to the property owner, and we went for it. We had no idea it would become the top tourist spot in Austin, one of the icons that this city is known for nationally, that we would see 50-100 people per hour per day on a slow day—just no idea.
Why do you think people are so drawn to the HOPE Outdoor Gallery?
To me, people fell in love with this concept of an art park because it’s a reflection of what our society needs right now. People want a safe place to express and create. The gallery is extremely community based, and that’s what we’re going to be doing with the [new] space.
Can you talk about the gallery’s next chapter?
[The current space] was always temporary. When I asked permission [to open it], the owner said “I love the idea. We’re not building there for another three to five years, go ahead and do it.” It’s the owner’s favorite thing that he’s ever done. He’s the hero in this story. We’re not being kicked out, we’re not moving—we were never going to be there permanently. We’ve spent the past three years looking for a new location to actually put what we now know will work. And that’s a very different story than being kicked out or development.
Have you contributed artwork to the gallery?
I actually haven’t. I was the first person out there in the beginning, cleaning up garbage. It was a desolate place. It was vacant and abandoned for 30 years. The very first day, it was me and my boyfriend (now husband) weed-wacking and trimming thorns and poison ivy and picking up garbage. I have been out there cleaning for eight years now. I’m so familiar with that location. So it will be an emotional day for me to just contribute for fun with a group of friends [before the gallery moves].