Original artists may take pay cut to restore vandalized murals


Jarrid Denman

Students pass by the 23rd Street mural Monday evening. The University has asked original artists Kerry Awn, Tom Bauman and Rick Turner for their help in restoring the masterpiece after it was destroyed by vandals in January.

Alyssa Mahoney

The artists of two murals that were vandalized in January will be restoring their original works over a period of 10 weeks but may not be paid for their time.

The University Co-op asked original artists Kerry Awn, Tom Bauman and Rick Turner to renovate the murals after the city removed the graffiti in the Renaissance Market area, which is located on Guadalupe and 23rd Street. A University Co-op security guard first noticed graffiti on the south wall of the Renaissance Market building Jan. 7 at approximately 6 a.m., according to Brian Jewell, University Co-op marketing director.

Awn, one of the three original artists, said he is concerned they will not meet their fundraising goal of $30,000. As of Sunday, the artists raised $13,570 through an online fundraising campaign that began Feb. 15 and will end April 16. 

“I don’t think we’re going to hit our total goal of what we’re trying to raise,” Awn said. “We’ve hit a wall.”

According to Bauman, the artists must provide funding for anti-graffiti coating on the murals, and whatever is left over will pay the artists for their labor.

Julia Narum, Travis County Health and Human Services program supervisor, said the city removes graffiti but has a limited role in restoring murals.

“Once [the city is] finished cleaning it, I don’t know that there [is] much else to do,” Narum said.

Narum said she thinks the public’s response has been integral to the Renaissance Market murals’ restoration.

“There’s been a big enough outcry about it,” Narum said.

According to Awn, paint company Winsor & Newton donated paint and supplies, and the Co-op donated $5,000 to the artists to work on the project but asked them to raise the rest of the money needed to complete the renovations. Awn said he thinks the artists will break even.

“The Co-op seems to think that we’ll just come in there and do it for free,” Awn said. “We can’t take two months of our lives and do that. We have to live and pay rent.”

According to Awn, most of the money raised will fund the artists’ labor and transportation costs. Awn said he and Bauman commute about 20 miles each way to work on the mural, and Turner, who lives in New York, must pay for his airfare and accommodations to be able to work on the mural.

Awn said the renovations on both murals are scheduled to be completed by June 1. Currently, the artists are working on the 12-year-old mural of Texas and hope to complete it by April 15, after which they will begin renovations on the 40-year-old mural of the Austin skyline.

Awn said, no matter how much money is raised, the artists will restore the murals and potentially make additions, even though they may not be paid for their time.

“We probably will put more stuff on there, because that’s who we are,” Awn said. “It’s a labor of love for us.”