By Jill Sayre

February is the month for love, and Austin is a place that adores photo backdrop murals that feature sweet sentiments. There are too many vibrant, lovely pieces of public paint to cite in one piece, so we chose four that are especially LOVEly. Your kids, parents, grandparents, teacher, that fun neighbor, or your best friend would love an original printed photo card, canvas print, mug, t-shirt, or handmade card featuring you and one of these Austin public art pieces.


1115 W. Lynn St., Nau’s Enfield Drug

In 2014, GSD&M Advertising drew artist Daniel Johnston out of retirement (he’d painted the iconic “HI, HOW ARE YOU?” mural on the Drag 20 years earlier) to paint a caped crusader crushing a cancerous invader as part of a fundraising campaign for Dell Children’s Superhero Kids. That year GSD&M donated $1 to Dell for each photo people took in front of the inspiring mural and posted on social media. The firm called the mural a “love letter to Austin.” Childhood cancer awareness and solidarity for struggling families is still valid. For any struggle you or your loved ones are undertaking, what better sentiment than to take a photo in front of this now iconic mural?


2000 E. MLK Jr. Blvd., United Way of Greater Austin Building

In 2012 the United Way of Greater Austin needed a boost. It was rebranding itself and needed Austin to notice and care about its mission to support community efforts against poverty and to provide resources to needy families. Creative Suitcase (CS) chose local artist John Rockwall to design the mural, with CS employees volunteering two days of their time to paint it. The white and yellow toast and butter pat adorn a blue wall, with a single red heart uniting the two. People donating and volunteering to serve our community? What’s not to love about that? Compared to many busy mural locations around Austin, this one is safer for families. The grassy area in front of the mural leaves space to take pictures, even if your dog isn’t entirely well-trained.


1300 S. Congress, Jo’s Coffee

After seeing a similar painting in a New York City alley, Amy Cook took a can of red spray paint to commemorate her feelings on the side of the green, formerly blank wall of Jo’s Coffee where her partner was an owner. Ironically, Cook says she doesn’t recall today whether she was feeling angry or loving when she got the burst of artistic fervor in 2010. Her passionate penmanship has become iconic, and families, singles, and couples love taking photos there. People have made t-shirts, postcards, and even baby onesies with the phrase. The wall has been vandalized over time, but is always faithfully restored as a testament to the power of inspiring love.


301 W. Riverside Dr.,

Threadgill’s Restaurant (now closed)

Before the iconic Threadgill’s South closed its doors on Dec. 2, 2018 after twenty years at that location, The Swizzle Collective was commissioned to design a bold mural for guests. The designers took a familiar lyric from the song “Wild Thing” written by former Austinite Chip Taylor— actor Jon Voight’s brother and Angelina Jolie’s uncle. While the original Threadgill’s remains open at 6416 N. Lamar Blvd., the mural still stands at the once popular Riverside location. According to reporting by the Austin Business Journal, owners of the building say the space is available for a new restaurant or bar tenant. No word yet on the future of the building, but you can still take advantage of the mural while its heart is still beating.


After you’ve had your photo shoot, just download your pics at a local photo lab. Glue or tape your prints onto construction paper or white heart-shaped doilies, which are always available around Valentine’s Day. Slip your card into an envelope, and mail. Or hand-deliver with a hug, a smooch, or a sweet smile.


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