Close Encounters of the Austin Kind

First Encounter: Greetings from Austin, 2004 by Jann Alexander
First Encounter: Greetings from Austin, 2004 by Jann Alexander [Mural: Todd Sanders © Roadhouse Relics]

It was still spring in Austin, in May 2004, when a scuttled trip to the Grand Canyon led me to The Live Music Capital of the World instead. While there was plenty of live music to go around, from First Thursday on South Congress to nearly every burger joint with a deep fryer, the most arresting thing about Austin was its visual identity.

There was architectural eye candy everywhere you looked. And to greet you, dear visitors, in case you didn’t yet feel welcomed enough by the warm Texas hospitality, was a painted mural on the side of neon artist Todd Sanders’ Roadhouse Relics studio, harkening back to the days of road trips and vintage picture post cards, where many a tourist photo has been made before and since.

The retro mural that once welcomed me to Austin has faded over time, but has never stopped being a favorite of tourists, locals and photographers. It’s fitting that the mural’s original artists, Todd Sanders and Rory Skagen, have begun restoring the mural, with help from Creative Action’s Color Squad.

Austin’s unique visual charms, thanks in no small part to creative sign artists like Sanders and Skagen, made it imperative for me to get here as quick as I could. And upon arriving for good just a few months later, to spend the next nine years documenting a Vanishing Austin, as I rejoiced in the occasional win—like this iconic Austin mural. ♣

BUY PRINTS: Choose from 99+ Vanishing Austin prints and a poster by Jann Alexander

Endangered Species of Austin, poster by Jann Alexander © 2009
Endangered Species of Austin poster

Shop my Vanishing Austin series: While many Austin landmarks are lost, many are survivors still. Admire them all in a slideshow, HERE

You can marvel at what’s lost and what’s survived in my Endangered Species of Austin poster, featuring 16 Austin icons, sized  handsomely large, 24 x 36,” HERE.

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