Austin is an art-loving town, but you don’t have to go to the Blanton or to one of Austin’s many local galleries to see beautiful artwork. Thanks to the City of Austin’s Art in Public Places program, beautiful works of art are all around you, if you know how to find them.
Art in Public Places (AIPP) is a program that was established in 1985 that collaborates with local and nationally known artists to create cultural landmarks that include the history and values of our community, and have become cornerstones of Austin’s identity. Austin has made a commitment to include works of art in local construction projects, with 2% of eligible capital improvement project budgets going towards the commission or purchase of art for that site. AIPP pieces and architectural detailings can be found in public places such as the airport, the convention center, police and EMS stations, parks, and even on the streets of Austin.
Finding some of these pieces around town is like a scavenger hunt of hidden gems. For example, I had no idea that this piece comprised of bent pine, Souls of the Trees, even existed at the Spicewood Springs Branch of the Austin Public Library, and I was there about once a week over the summer. In fact, most branches of the Austin Public Library hold an AIPP piece somewhere in the building.
Here are a few locations around town where you can find AIPP pieces. For the complete list, browse the Art in Public Places collection. Past temporary works are included, so make sure to look for the words “temporary installation” and the installation dates. I’m telling you this from experience.
Austin Convention Center
Big Chiller Blues, Ann M. Adams – Glass tile mosaic, Convention Center Parking Garage
Confabulating Orbits, Ben Livingston – Neon and copper, palazzo, level 1
Macro/Micro Culture, Rolando Briseno – Print media
Riffs & Rhythms, John Yancey – Broken tile mosaic, west corridor, level 1 (fun fact: I took several classes from Mr. Yancey at at UT’s College of Fine Arts. Wonderful instructor and artist.)
Texas Botanicals, Jill Bedgood – 20 oil paintings, west corridor, level 3
Zilker Park/Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail
Big Snake, Elena Eidelberg and Kathleen Ash – Hand-shaped ceramic and sandblasted glass, Austin Nature & Science Center
Phantom Ship, Jill Bedgood – Cast concrete retaining walls, Zilker Park playscape
Philosopher’s Rock, Glenna Goodacre – Bronze sculpture, entrance to Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Park
Lou Neff Point Gazebo, David Sanchez, Joe Perez – Round steel tubing and iron sculpture, lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail, south bank at Barton Creek
Stevie Ray Vaughn Memorial, Ralph Helmick – Bronze scuplture, Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike Trail, south bank at South 1st & Riverside Dr. (pictured at top)
Zilker Botalical Gardens main entry gate, Lars A. Stanley and Louis Herrera – Painted, forged mild steel, Zilker Botanical Gardens main entrance.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Green Austin Series, Jimmy Jalapeeno – 7 oil on canvas paintings, located at the security check point.
Hill of the Medicine Man, Thomas Evans – 9 oil on canvas panels, east ticket lobby.
Leaf, Pod & Samara, John Christensen – Cast concrete in native Texas landscaping, west planter box (exterior).
Reality * Texas * Mythology, Jill Bedgood – Etched mirrors, baggage claim restrooms and special needs restrooms on the concourse level.
On the Streets
Angelina Eberly, Pat Oliphant – Bronze, west side of Congress between 6th and 7th Streets
High Water Mark, Deborah Mersky – Stainless steel panels with porcelain enamel insets, pedestrian railing, Cesar Chavez.
La Fuente en Calle Segundo, Roger Colombik – Bronze, aluminum, and water, 2nd and San Antonio Streets.
Moments, Carl Trominski – Paint, metal reflective signs, lights, Lamar Bridge Railroad Underpass.
Night Wings, Dale Whistler – Aluminum, steel rods, concrete base, Congress/Barton Springs Traffic Island (southwest of the Congress Avenue Bridge)
Other Fun Finds
Grotto Wall at Sparky Park, Berthold Haas – Karst stone, steel, mirror balls, various stone, aggregates, masonry, petrified wood, fossils, seashells, ceramic and found objects, Sparky Park (3701 Grooms St)
For Jeep with Love, ARCHAIC – Carved limestone, Palmer Events Center main entrance.
This is only a sampling of the AIPP collection that is sprinkled all over town. If you want to find something specific, browse the AIPP collection online. And keep your eyes peeled the next time you’re out and about. You may just find a little unexpected work of art.
For more information about the Art in Public Places program or to browse the collection, visit the City of Austin’s website.
Leigh Ann Torres is a freelance writer and blogger living in Austin with her husband and three girls. She’s a pretty good cook, a mediocre photographer, and a horrible housekeeper. She writes about the good, the bad, and the ridiculous of life with twins plus one at Genie in a Blog.