After East side mural painted over, original artist gets second chance

When Chris Rogers first came to Austin, he painted an iconic mural at the intersection of 12th and Chicon. It has faces of famous names like Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“I wanted it to be something that when people walk by, they can just get lost in it,” said Rogers.

But when it was painted over by a new business, he was disappointed.

“I've had other murals in Austin painted over and it hurts, it stings but that's kind of part of the deal. Businesses change, ideas change, they just get painted over but that one in particular, that's when I first moved here, I had nothing, broke. That was as pure as I got right there,” said Rogers.

The East 12th Street Merchants Association says the store owner, Veronica Ortuno consulted with them, and they told her she needed to get community approval before painting over it. In a meeting with community members Monday night, Rogers says she apologized to him.

“She just plainly asked me what did I want to do. I told her I want to repaint the wall,” said Rogers.

He says the two came to an agreement hope to move forward in preserving East Austin's old culture. More than a week after it was painted over, the wall has several tags. Some in the community are angered at the erasing of the mural, calling it symbolic of gentrification

“What covered it was white paint, which is what gentrification is. Austin has whitewashed black and brown culture. Even people who are black and brown have whitewashed black and brown culture,” said Fatima Mann, co-founder of the Austin Justice Coalition.

“The camel's back had been broken, and that was just salt on the wound,” said Rogers.

Rogers will be taking suggestions on what to paint on the wall. He is most happy the community is talking, moving toward a resolution.

“This is a huge win win for everybody,” said Rogers.

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