New art installation along the Austin Trail tells stories of old East Austin

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The Austin Parks Foundation has partnered with several organizations to paint pillars along Rosewood Avenue as part of the Pillar Project. Here’s what’s on it.

AUSTIN, TX – It would be easy to miss driving on Rosewood Avenue in East Austin.

“You probably only see big, colorful pillars, but you probably have to go down and inspect each pillar to see what it means and what it’s about,” Armando Martinez said as he stood in Boggy’s greenbelt. Creek under North Pleasant Valley Road.

Each painted pillar tells a story, stories of people like Gilbert Rivera and his wife, Jane.

“What I see is a really deep and heartwarming story about our family,” said Gilbert Rivera. “Some of the pictures you see, there is myself, my wife, Jane, my father and my mother, who are both deceased. And you see depictions of cucumber leaves, the purple leaves that have been there ever since. when we were migrant workers. “

Gilbert Rivera was born in the eastern part of Austin and has lived there his entire life.

“We always told people that there are two cities, Austin, Texas and East Austin, Texas – two totally different cities,” he added.

Her story is one of many that are remembered through this public art project.

“It came directly from the community. That’s what they asked for,” said Kathleen Barron.

Barron is part of the Austin Parks Foundation. She and other organizations have made it possible for the Pillar Project to elevate East Side artists.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities for East Austin artists to be represented in the part of town they’ve lived,” Barron said.

“This is the original photo that was taken by the journalist in 88,” said Ruben Esquivel, a local artist.

Esquivel took a photo of Gilbert Rivera and turned it into art. Gilbert Rivera is a man some call a pillar of the community, but Esquivel calls him family.

“It’s so special that [it was] me, his nephew, who was chosen to paint it, because anyone could have done it, but the fact that I did it makes it super special, ”he said. “Even looking at it now, I can’t believe I painted this. It’s wild. “

The project currently has up to 14 pillars. The 15th will be finished in January. The Austin Parks Foundation eventually hopes to paint the 39 green space pillars under North Pleasant Valley Road.

It’s special for those who share their stories, and also for the artists.

“Knowing that it’s going to be there for decades even longer than me, it’s super special to know that my family’s brand is going to be there for a very long time,” Esquivel said.

“The artists who do all of this are writing our history through art, and if you look at each of these pillars, each one tells a story, and these stories have to be told have to be shown. And hopefully more pillars. are going to rise and more stories are documented, ”said Gilbert Rivera.

This is all part of a public art project depicting pillars of the community, painted on those pillars.

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