Daniel Johnston mural coming to The Contemporary Austin

The Contemporary Austin will unveil a new Daniel Johnston mural at the museum’s Jones Center location in downtown Austin (700 Congress Avenue) in conjunction with the exhibition Daniel Johnston: I Love My Broken Dreams. The unveiling takes place on the late artist’s birthday, January 22, 2022, also declared as Hi, How Are You Day in Austin. The public is invited to gather at the corner of Congress Avenue and 7th Street in a safe and socially distanced manner or tune into The Contemporary’s Instagram (@contemporaryatx) where the official ribbon cutting will be live streamed at 12:30 p.m. that day. Representatives from the museum, Vans and No-Comply, members of the Johnston family, and others close to the artist who contributed to the exhibition’s success will come together to celebrate the mural reveal.

“We are thrilled to present this beautiful mural at the Jones Center honoring the life and work of Daniel Johnston,” Sharon Maidenberg, CEO and Executive Director of The Contemporary Austin, said. “An extension of the first-ever solo museum exhibition of Johnston’s work, this mural is for the city of Austin. We hope it sparks joy and conversation about art in its various forms.”

From January 22 through the end of January, passersby are encouraged to post a photo of the Daniel Johnston mural and tag The Contemporary on Instagram for a chance to win a Daniel Johnston gift package that includes exclusive merchandise created in conjunction with the exhibition. The prize package includes a limited edition Daniel Johnston travel mug, letterpress poster, and sticker pack, Johnston’s dual vinyl LP set Artistic Vice/1990, and a special Daniel Johnston-themed edition of the Austin-based zine A Curious Mix of People.

Although best known as a musician, Daniel Johnston was also an extraordinarily prolific visual artist. Inspired by comic books, he populated his artwork with a fantastical cast of characters and symbols that he developed throughout his lifetime. Presented as part of the artist’s posthumous retrospective, Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams, this mural features images and details taken directly from Johnston’s artwork.

Alongside good-hearted monsters, winged eyeballs, and ducks, we see some of Johnston’s most prominent characters: the Beast, a multi-headed creature referencing the Book of Revelation; Jeremiah the Innocent, a symbol of pure innocence anchoring the landmark “Hi, How Are You” mural; Vile Corrupt, Jeremiah’s evil, multi-eyeballed nemesis; and Casper, the ghost of Jeremiah and symbol of spiritual redemption.

The Daniel Johnston mural was produced in collaboration with Vans and No-Comply and painted by Show Goat Mural Works.

“After recent collaborations between No-Comply Skateshop x Vans x Daniel Johnston, we saw the opportunity to continue our partnership and support at the local contemporary art museum, The Contemporary Austin, in their exhibition, I Live My Broken Dreams, Daniel Johnston’s first museum exhibition,” Vans noted in a statement. “Supporting the community and the arts are priorities for No-Comply and Vans. We are thankful for the opportunity to take the iconic art and inspiration of Daniel Johnston for all to see on such a prominent wall in downtown Austin.”

I Live My Broken Dreams—the first museum survey of Johnston’s visual art in conversation with his musicincludes a selection of more than two hundred works showcasing Johnston’s diverse artistic practice, along with handmade fliers, home-recorded cassette tapes with hand-drawn covers, photographs, notebook pages, Super 8 mm home movies, archival video and audio, and even Johnston’s vintage white piano. Visitors have the opportunity to witness the evolution of Johnston’s work over four decades and see Johnston as the earnest visual poet, humorous cultural critic, and imaginative dreamer of worlds that he was.

For more information on the Daniel Johnston mural, the exhibition and other programs at The Contemporary Austin, please visit https://thecontemporaryaustin.org/ and follow the museum on social media at @contemporaryatx. 

DANIEL JOHNSTON

Daniel Dale Johnston (b. Sacramento, California, 1961; d. Waller, Texas, 2019) was an American singer-songwriter and a significant figure in the indie music scene of the 1990s. Johnston produced over twenty albums and as many singles within his lifetime, playing for an ever-growing international audience. His influence as a songwriter and musician is evident in the numerous musical icons who have covered his songs, including Tom Waits, Eddie Vedder, Beck, Phoebe Bridgers, Jeff Tweedy, and Lana Del Rey.

In addition to his success in music, Johnston studied art in college and showed his work at museums and galleries internationally, including the Whitney Biennial in 2006. Several books and documentaries have been made about his art, music, and life, including the award-winning documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005). Today, the Hi, How Are You Project, created with the support of Johnston and his family, generates awareness and ongoing dialogue about mental health in Daniel’s honor. 

THE CONTEMPORARY AUSTIN

As Austin’s only museum solely focused on contemporary artists and their work, The Contemporary Austin offers exhibitions, educational opportunities, and events that start conversations and fuel the city’s creative spirit. Known for artist-centric projects and collaborations, The Contemporary invites exploration at both its urban and natural settings—downtown at the Jones Center on Congress Avenue, lakeside at the Laguna Gloria campus (including the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, the Art School, and the historic Driscoll Villa), and around Austin through the Museum Without Walls program.

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