Shephard Fairey Was Here

May 23, 2017 by: Ben Heimsath

It may not be a celebrity sighting, but for the contemporary art world, may as well be! World renown muralist, activist, and street artist, Shephard Fairey left his signature mark on a few left-over buildings in Austin not too long ago. These images are two variations of Fairey’s iconic graphic, OBEY GIANT which has appeared on posters, stickers, murals, and in art galleries all over the world.   ... Read More

Street Art / Austin

Black’s Memorial Baptist - A Progression of Upgrades?

December 14, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Black’s Memorial Missionary Baptist Church stands on a corner lot on a modest residential street in the St. John’s neighborhood in North East Austin. Noting the shape of the front facade and the stone exterior, it is easy to speculate about what may have been a progression of vernacular upgrades. This African American church ministering to working families may not have used established church ... Read More

Austin / Historic Preservation / Worship Space

East Austin Church is a Landmark with Unrecorded History

November 27, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Like many East Austin Churches, this small structure on E 12th Street hints as a significant history, but little or no information is readily available. From my years on the Historic Landmarks Commission, there’s no doubt that the City of Austin has been doing catch up after years of ignoring the rich history of East Austin. East Austin has many proud neighborhoods that have made important ... Read More

Historic Preservation / Worship Space / Austin

Lucky Cats Reference Japanese and Western Spirituality

November 23, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Another TEMPO installation, 1800 Lucky Cats was installed in front of the Austin Animal Center through this past weekend. The 1800 ceramic figurines represent only one-tenth of the 18,000 animals that are processed in the shelter annually. This work was created by artist Teruko Numura as a way to highlight the shelter’s no-kill policy and to raise awareness of the very active adoption programs. ... Read More

Austin / Sacred Symbols

Ready for Dia de los Muertos at Metz Elementary

October 20, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

While the rest of the US is preparing for Halloween, in states like Texas that share boarders with our neighbor to the South, preparations also begin for Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Colorful artwork and festive decorations incorporate macabre images of skulls, skeletons, coffins, and other images of death. November 1, or the Catholic feast of All Saints Day, and the following All ... Read More

Austin / Sacred Symbols / Liturgical Arts

Wesley United Methodist Church - East Austin Landmark

October 17, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

When they left downtown Austin in 1929, Wesley Methodist Church relocated to the heart of what was soon to be a red-lined neighborhood for black and Hispanic residents.   An earlier generation of whites and blacks worshipped under the same roof. As noted in Michael Barns’ profile of the church on their 150th anniversary in 2015, the white congregation was upstairs in the old Tenth Street ... Read More

Austin / Worship Space / Historic Preservation

How Gandhi and Our Lady Became Soulmates in East Austin

October 16, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

On the outside wall of a convenience store on Cesar Chavez Street in East Austin, two iconic saintly figures reflect on their surroundings, literally. A mosaic rendered from pieces of broken mirror forms the huge face of Mahatma Gandhi. Around the corner, a similarly rendered mosaic forms the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Both these figures are strongly associated with national and spiritual ... Read More

Austin / Religious / Sacred Symbols / Liturgical Arts

The Value of Visiting Places of Worship

October 15, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

How many of us get to visit places of worship other than our own? With my job, I'm luck enough to say I have been blessed to visit many diverse worship spaces.  But it’s a safe bet that most people, however, haven’t attend services, participated in rituals, or even entered a worship space that isn’t of their own faith, or one closely associated. Which seems rather odd, since America was founded ... Read More

Austin / Worship Space

Lou Neff Point is Austin Thin Place

August 26, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

A while back, I wrote in the Austin American Statesman of the special locations in nearly all communities that represent the spirit of a place. In many cultures, the phenomenon is explained as a place where the physical and spiritual worlds are closely connected. The Celtic mythology refers to these locations as “Thin Places.” In Christianity, we understand the tradition of holy ground in the ... Read More

Sacred Landscapes / Austin / Memorial / Holy Place

North Austin Memorial Honors St. Edward’s Student

August 09, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Sometimes spontaneous memorials become fixtures. I drove by this assemblage in North Austin recently. This looked like a suddenly sacred memorial at the site of an accident, so I pulled into a nearby parking lot to check it out.   The lacey flowers on the wreath cover up not one, but two crosses on the electrical pole. A bunch of silk flowers below are pretty faded, but someone clearly has been ... Read More

Austin / Memorial / Suddenly Sacred