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How Art Transformed a North Austin Neighborhood

A corner of North Austin that was once the subject of fear and controversy has been transformed by a colorful community mural—thanks to the efforts and imagination of a few neighbors.



Residents living near the former Redfield 34 affordable housing complex said that shootings and criminal activity around the property made them regularly fear for their safety. After the city took action to repurpose the property, neighbors found a creative way to reimagine the space. 


“The mural project was a way to shift the energy in the community,” said Jared Noble, co-president of the North Austin Civic Association (NACA). “The neighborhood has experienced some increased crime due to conditions deteriorating at the apartments. That spot is kind of an entrance to North Austin, where many students walk past on their way to Navarro Early College High School every morning. So having some sort of welcome sign seemed right.” 


The graffiti-style mural features bright colors in an abstract pattern with the words “North Austin” and “welcome” written in several languages. It was painted in December 2023 by Ernesto Hernandez in collaboration with Cindy Tobar and Josè Boone.



Several neighbors contributed to the project, which incorporated stencil designs to make it easier for the community to help paint, Ernesto said. 


Ernesto, a Texas native who has been painting murals for nearly 30 years, said that murals are a democratic art form with the unique ability to create a sense of identity and belonging. 


“Murals are supposed to be for the community and they are supposed to reflect the community,” he said.  “Sometimes that’s why they get tagged. It’s because the community was never asked and they were never invited. What I liked here was that from the beginning the community was involved.” 


Ernesto said he believes the graffiti-like style of the mural will help prevent the welcome sign from being vandalized and bring a needed pop of color to the area.


“I’ve seen it work in so many places,” he said. “Sometimes you just want to see color and see something out of the norm and express yourself and that’s why people become taggers.” 




Jared said he would love the momentum from the mural project to continue and lead to more placemaking art throughout the immediate area and across the NACA neighborhood.


Originally from Los Angeles, he said he is familiar with street art and the positive impact it can have on a community. Jared said he hopes the next project will draw even more residents to participate and contribute. “It’s important to bring some art and color to the area,” he said.


“NACA represents a large, diverse community, and we have a lot of work to do to encourage more people from other backgrounds to attend monthly meetings, and get involved to support the well-being and safety of our neighborhood.”



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