Add Austin, Texas to your list of mosaic wall art-viewing destinations! The capital of the Lone Star State is known for a lot of things: The SXSW Festival, Austin City Limits, and a legendary college campus. But, as we recently mentioned in our mosaic portraits piece – it’s also the home of a pretty amazing mosaic wall art scene. Before your next trip, we’ve rounded up a list of 10 must-see installations to include on your cruises around the city. With plenty of large-scale murals everywhere, this is one city that takes eye candy seriously!
1. Shipe Neighborhood Park
Joyful fun is present throughout this colorful jaunt through the park. Indeed, this mosaic mural is titled “A Day in the Park”! Installed on the public pool’s pump house wall, it depicts happy park visitors enjoying the outdoors. One figure dances amidst a swirl of music notes arising from their boom box. Another greets a butterfly amidst tree branches. A curious cat and other figures invite viewers to get closer and find the hidden details. Austin artists Pascal Simon and Holli Brown headed up the creation of this gem.
2. Met Center Business Park Urban Beautification Project
Worth a trip is this trio of mosaic wall art installations at a huge new business park in Central Austin. Stop by to visit the thriving food truck court, and then head over to appreciate how gorgeous water management can be! Yep, you might call these drainage ditches, but they’ve been elevated into something more by Austin artist Dan Mueller. Commissioned by the park, he created a different look for each location, utilizing a blend of natural stones and colorful tile. ”Peace”, “Fish”, and this untitled piece each have a distinct look, and the idea fits in perfectly with the green vibe of the city.
3. Robertson Hill Apartments Wall
Drive by this location on 11th Street to appreciate the shimmering beauty of this glass and stone mosaic wall art. Go ahead and park to really take in the theme of this piece. “Let Every Man Sit Under His Vine and None Shall Make Him Afraid” is by artist Ryah Christensen, a prolific creator of large-scale art in Austin. It depicts four ancestral beings in the four soil types of the area – each giving life to an array of native flowering plants and vines.
4. Charles E. Urdy Plaza
East Austin, an early hotspot for homegrown jazz and blues, is still remembered with reverence and fun in these murals. The formerly segregated neighborhood hosted legends like Louis Armstrong, Etta James, James Brown, and Billie Holiday. With a 2003 commission from the Austin Revitalization Authority, University Texas professor and artist John Yancey set the walls ablaze. Using thousands of historical photographs from the area’s heyday, he created “Rhapsody”, a 50-foot installation full of color, music, and life.
5. Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas
Created entirely of glass mosaic smalti tile, this mosaic wall art by Celia Berry is worth seeking out. Dedicated to the Sisters of Charity, the piece references traditional Tree of Life images. Look closely, and you’ll spot the subtle reference to the religious order and its mission. By using glass tiles, the Ravenna Mosaic School-trained artist gives every leaf a lifelike glow.
6. 2400 East Cesar Chavez
Just in time for National Hispanic Heritage month, Austin-based Mosaic Workshop completed their mosaic wall artwork installation near Juan Raul Plaza. A true community effort, the piece was created with the Arts Responders program in conjunction with the ESB Mexican American Cultural Center. Depicting a vibrant Latina female wearing a mask, it’s meant to serve as both a friendly reminder about staying safe – and as a celebration of the community’s heritage.
7. 2400 East Cesar Chavez II
Take a spin around the parking lot, and you’ll spot our next Austin mosaic masterpiece. A portrait of Roosevelt “Grey Ghost” Williams, it’s the work of J Muzacz and a crew of community members, artists, and non-artists. Created in a series of 8 weekly workshops, it’s an iconic image of an Austin music legend, who played barrel house blues and jazz piano in Austin for 70 years. The finished piece contains more than 10,000 individually hand-placed vitreous glass tiles, recycled ceramic and porcelain, hand-fired custom shapes, stained glass, and repurposed mirror. It was unveiled in September 2019, and immediately became a must-see.
8. Sparky Pocket Park
Fans of Isiah Zagar will enjoy this award-winning public art piece in the North University area. Austin artist Berthold Haas was commissioned by the neighborhood association to create beauty from cinder block walls in their pocket park. Affectionately named after the former power station on the site, which was prone to creating showers of electrical spark, it’s now a beloved part of the community. Using everything from the native karst stone to steel, mirror balls, fossils, seashells, various stones, found objects, and ceramic mosaic tiles, the installation is a wonderland of images, three-dimensional explorations of natural themes, and tiny hidden pieces placed by visitors.
9. Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center Plaza
Dedicated to the promotion of the cultural arts of Mexican Americans and Latino cultures, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center is a perfect location for this sprawling mosaic wall art. Teenage students from the Center’s Camino Project installed the piece, which depicts not only iconic Latinx celebrities but also unsung heroines from the Austin community. This is a fun piece to visit – and the images can provoke a journey of learning. “La Mujer” is packed with cultural references and a great destination for anyone interested in activities that honor National Hispanic Heritage Month.
10. Buffalo Pass
It’s evident that Austin loves its mosaic public mosaic projects – and this newly completed mural is the perfect example. It’s so new that the grout is barely dry! As of the beginning of October 2021, the Southern Oaks neighborhood is home to a piece that covers a 140-foot retaining wall, utilizes two tons of clay, and is made from 600 pounds of glass. Community members were invited to add their own designs to the original artist-created outline, and the installation involved 32 community volunteer sessions, more than 200 volunteers, and 2,500 hours. As you can see in the finished piece, the drawings represent their favorite things about the neighborhood. Take a walk down the trail and savor the feeling of community and general joy that pervades this piece!
Do you know any other cities that have an abundance of hidden mosaic art gems? Let us know in the comments!