Brian Jewell

A student walks by the 40-year-old Austin mural on 23rd street. and Guadalupe that was recently vandalized. The Austin City government, University Co-op, and the original artists are looking to crowdsource funding to complete the restoration process.

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

After public outcry over the defacement of two murals near 23rd Street and Guadalupe, the original artists, the University Co-op and Austin officials have removed the majority of the graffiti and are crowdsourcing funds to finish the restoration process.

Brian Jewell, University Co-op marketing vice president, said a co-op security guard first noticed graffiti on the 40-year-old mural, located on the south wall of the Renaissance Market area, on Jan. 7. Jewell said the guard did not see anyone deface the murals, and no security footage of the area was available, so the co-op could not file a report with Austin police. Jewell said the graffiti removal is nearly complete, and the co-op and original artists are raising funds through online donations to begin restoring the murals in mid-March. 

Jewell said the mural is an important part of Austin history.

“[The mural] is 40 years old, and it’s an iconic symbol of Austin,” Jewell said. “It’s almost a rite of passage to view it.”

Kerry Awn, one of the murals’ original artists, said he did not realize the mural was important to the public until he witnessed the extensive media coverage done on it.

“It took the whole public to let me know that people care about it,” Awn said. “In a weird way, it’s kind of a good thing.”

According to Awn, he and the two other original artists — Tommy B and Rick Turner — will complete the restoration over the course of 10 weeks from March 15 until June 1. Awn said the co-op will take additional measures, such as installing cameras and additional lighting in the area, in an attempt to prevent additional acts of vandalism toward the mural from occurring.

Julia Narum, Travis County Health and Human Services program supervisor, said cold, damp weather — which makes removal less effective — delayed the city’s process of removing the graffiti. According to Narum, the city has removed graffiti from more than 1.5 million square feet of public and private property. Narum said the city’s annual budget for graffiti removal is approximately $516,000, including supplies and labor costs.

Narum said she thinks the amount of graffiti has increased, forcing the city to dedicate additional funds to graffiti removal. 

“It’s, in part, a growing pain,” Narum said. “There are so many events, so many visitors.”

Narum said graffiti is more common in places where there is more pedestrian traffic, but she said business owners sometimes paint murals to try to deter graffiti.

“When [vandals] did the [graffiti] at the co-op. To me, that means they have gotten really bold,” Narum said. “The [graffiti on the] murals have proven there’s no respect anymore for the murals.”

Jewell said he thinks it’s important to preserve the murals for later generations to view.

“It should be preserved,” Jewell said. “Not just because we should always preserve something, but because its helped define Austin.”

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Following a series of graffiti taggings in recent months, businesses, street artists and Austin police are discussing ways to restore a 40-year-old mural that was defaced last week.

Graffiti was first noticed on the mural — located in the Renaissance Market area near Guadalupe and 23rd Street. — on Jan. 7. According to Brian Jewell, University Co-op marketing vice president, the mural on the south side of the building was painted in 1976 by a group headed by artist Kerry Awn.

“What is on the side of the building is art,” Jewell said. “It is not street art or graffiti. It was created by an artist.”

Jewell said that between midnight and 1 a.m. on Jan. 7, a University Co-op security guard who was near the Co-op parking lot, approximately one block away, noticed two people standing near the mural. When the guard started to walk towards them, Jewell said, the two people ran from the scene. At approximately 6 a.m. that morning, the head of security at the Co-op first noticed the graffiti on the south wall of the building.

According to Jewell, the security guard did not notice any distinguishing features of the two people, so the Co-op was unable to take further action with the Austin Police Department.

According to statistics provided by the APD, the number of calls concerning graffiti decreased from 120 calls to 98 calls in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The report also stated that 18 calls about graffiti have already been reported to the APD this year.

APD spokeswoman Jennifer Herber said this number reflects only calls made to APD, but the actual number of reports may be higher if calls were made to Austin Health and Human Services.

Nathan Nordstrom — who goes by the pseudonym Sloke — is a street artist who said he remembered looking at the 40-year-old mural when he was a child. He said he was really angry when he found out it was vandalized because the mural is a part of Austin history.

“[The vandals] just spit right in the city’s face,” Nordstrom said. “It’s selfish; as an artist that has been using spray cans for 24 years, what [they] did was horrible.”

Nordstrom said he estimates the restoration process will probably take a month or longer at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, because the process requires stripping down to the original wall and re-painting. Jewell said the Co-op has been in contact with the original artists and the City of Austin, but discussions about restoring the art are preliminary and ongoing.

“There are individuals who appreciate in any city that type of art. That’s what creates the thread and fiber of the city,” Jewell said.

According to Nordstrom, the difference between graffiti and street art is content. Nordstrom said graffiti is based on letters and style while street art is based on images.

“I wouldn’t even call [the perpetrators] graffiti artists or street artists,” Nordstrom said. “[Their] stuff is horrible.”

Nordstrom said he thinks the perpetrators have caused a series of copycat acts of vandalism.

“I hate to say it, but it’s almost like a trend,” Nordstrom said. “It’s the broken window theory — if one person gets away with it, another person will do it,” Nordstrom said.

Nordstrom said he thinks the act was probably an attempt to gain media attention and quick credibility in the street art scene.

“These kids are nobodies in the graffiti world and they want some cheap fame,” Nordstrom said. “The art scene is a small community here, [so] there are people who know who did it … I’m not a snitch, but I do believe in karma.”

The University’s main Co-op held its second annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, hiding 1,000 prize-filled eggs throughout the store for college students and families to find and use to get 10 to 20 percent discounts on Longhorn apparel.

The event drew many people from the Austin area, and also featured a petting zoo, face painting, coloring and guessing games in the rear parking lot. Brian Jewell, vice president of marketing, said he was excited the Co-op could reach out to the community.

“We wanted to give families an opportunity to have some fun at the store,” Jewell said. “I think on a Saturday before Easter … this is a fun way to celebrate it with games and activities that kind of draw people in.”

Jewell said all of the activities were popular, but one drew more participants than the others.

“We had lines for both [the games and the petting zoo],” Jewell said. “[But] face painting was probably the most [liked].”

The face painter was able to do about 13 different faces, and the bunny-rabbit design was the most popular.

Jewell also said the many kids at the event especially enjoyed finding the eggs hidden on the first, second and third floors. 

“The store was packed,” Jewell said.

He said he hoped the Co-op would be able to continue the Easter Egg Hunt as an annual event.

“It’s reaching out to the Austin and Central Texas community to let them know that there’s activities that we can do throughout the year,” Jewell said. “As much as anything, it’s giving back to the community and letting them know that they can have some fun times at the Co-op.”

A house burns off of Texas State Highway 21, near Bastrop on Tuesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Thanks to the University Co-op and a handful of students, the UT community can buy T-shirts to support the Bastrop wildfire relief efforts.

Two students on the Senate of College Councils’ Outreach and Development Committee came up with the idea to sell shirts through the Co-op for the relief effort, said Senate spokesman Michael Morton. He said the idea came about Friday morning and by that evening T-shirts were already on sale.

“The shirts were the result of a bunch of people working together like clockwork,” Morton said. “Chris Wynn designed the shirt, and the Co-op liked it, and they got them printed up in a day.”

Morton said the Co-op and Senate are also working with the Division of Housing and Food Service to host a donation drive to collect items for those in need. Morton said barrels will be placed at Co-op locations and residence halls throughout campus.

Hannah Tucker, a co-chair of the Senate’s Outreach and Development Committee, said she doesn’t know anyone personally who lost property or loved ones in the fire, but she wanted to contribute to the relief effort after she saw part of the evacuation process under way.

“I was driving back to school from Houston on [Highway] 290, and I saw the people evacuating and the smoke coming from the fire,” Tucker said. “Just seeing how severe it really was was the main reason I wanted to do this.”

She said Senate members designed a shirt that reads “I’m a BFD supporter,” and Co-op designers came up with one that reads “I heart Bastrop.” Both are available at the Co-op for $10.

Co-op head of marketing Brian Jewell said he was glad the Senate members approached the Co-op with an opportunity to help victims of the Bastrop fires. He said with all of the natural disasters that have happened recently in the country, it feels good to be able to help one that is especially close to home.

“Whether it’s tornadoes in Missouri, floods out east or this, we want to be able to help,” Jewell said. “The cost of the shirts is secondary. That is our portion of the donation. All $10 is going to go to the relief fund.”

Jewell said the Co-op will post their barrels inside their two locations on Monday, and they will be collecting any gently worn clothing and new or barely used toiletry essentials. He said the PODS company has donated a pod to store the donations thoughout the week until they are sorted and sent to the American Red Cross.

“We will sell T-shirts and accept donations all week,” Jewell said. “We have one pod in our back parking lot, and there’s plenty of room if we have to put more back there, which I hope we do.”

T-shirts will also be on sale at the Co-op website.

— Additional reporting by Matt Stottlemyre

Home games draw in revenue for Austin businesses, contribute to UT donations

Longhorn fans may not be sitting where they thought they would be at the start of the season with a 4-2 record and a No. 19 ranking in the BCS, following a surprising 34-12 loss to underdog UCLA and a mistake-filled loss to Oklahoma, but win or lose — home football games mean money for Austin businesses.

In its home opener against the University of Wyoming Cowboys, Texas set an attendance record of 101,339 — the second largest crowd at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium ever, trailing the 2009 game against Kansas, which drew 101,357 fans.

“The way that we talk about it is we have eight Christmases,” said Brian Jewell, vice president of marketing of the University Co-op. “We have one on Dec. 25 and then we have one every home game day.”

During the weekend of the Wyoming game, the Co-op on Guadalupe Street turned in a six-figure profit, Jewell said.

“Not only does it bring us sales but again, let’s remember, every time we sell something, that gives us an opportunity to give back to the University,” Jewell said. “That’s really where the biggest impact eventually happens. The more you buy from us, the more we’re able to give back in gifts, grants, rebates, scholarships, donations and those types of things.”

A portion of these sales come from out-of-town alumni such as Matt Shaunty, a 1992 graduate of the University from Houston.

Shaunty said he has been a season ticket holder for 15 years. He took his three kids and two family friends from Panama to watch the surprise loss to UCLA. Over the weekend, he spent two nights at a hotel with three rooms at $200 a night per room. On average, he said, he spent $60 a meal and a couple hundred more on UT gear at the Co-op — in addition to gas.

“It’s just a great experience to share with your kids because we had such a great time here growing up,” Shaunty said. “It’s just a fun way to get away, spend a weekend not in front of the TV, not playing video games but just go hang out and be able to see football games together.”

J.V. Cook, co-owner of Posse East Bar and Grill, said alumni looking for a UT hangout similar to when they were students often come to his restaurant during football season.

“We opened in 1971, so we still have a lot of the old regulars that still come, just a little nostalgia and memories, kind of a meeting place for the game,” Cook said. “A lot of them that don’t have tickets will stay here and watch.”

Posse East increases staff and runs an outside beer stand on home game days, counting on their location to help reel in more fans. During the Wyoming game, Posse East quadrupled what they usually make on a Saturday, Cook said.

“It’s only going to happen six or seven times a year, so we have to cash in,” Cook said. “We gotta try to get every penny we can.”

Mike Lapaglia is co-owner of Mike and Mike’s — a small, local catering business which also runs a hotdog stand that is stationed on 24th and Guadalupe streets on game days. Lapaglia said since he started the business with his son a year ago, he has been able to pay all of his bills largely with business from home games. Usually, they are worth two or three times a normal work day.

“I get to meet a lot of people and talk to them,” he said. “For many years, I was in the maintenance of restaurant equipment, fixing ovens and refrigeration. It’s a lot of fun to stand out here and talk with people instead of getting my hands dirty all the time.”

And Jewell said those people love to support the Longhorns.

“Well I don’t think there’s any question throughout all of Austin: Whether it’s restaurants, hotels, nightclubs — the fans coming in for the game are loyal fans and they love to come in town,” Jewell said. “It’s great for the whole community of Austin, the local community and obviously the University of Texas.”