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Schneider building in 2005

Temporary art project for Schneider Store building met with tepid enthusiasm

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 by Jessi Devenyns

The J.P. Schneider Store building is the new target of an art installation called Inside Out/Vote intended to encourage voter participation and registration through reimagining civic engagement and unleashing the voice of America’s youth through art.

Brought to the Sept. 24 meeting of the Historic Landmark Commission by artist Gabriel Rodriguez, who is working with the artist behind the concept, JR, the public piece proposes to affix dozens of 3- by 5-foot photographs to the Guadalupe-facing side of the building that now houses Lamberts barbecue.

“This is a historical building that has seen much trauma and drama in the past,” noted Commissioner Terri Myers. Preserving the building, she explained, is already a struggle, and so plastering it with photographs that have the potential to damage the brick on the facade causes her to hesitate. “I have reservations about this. I would feel better if you went to the Texas Historical Commission … if this is something they would even allow,” she said.

Commissioner Kevin Koch agreed, saying that there are a lot of unforeseen complications that can arise from seemingly innocuous substances like glue. He requested to see a test video of how the proposed materials – ink, paper, glue – react to a driving rainstorm. The intention is to observe how the glue washes off non-historical brick facade before approving the project application to a historical structure.

Rodriguez explained that while he does not have a video of the removal process, Austin would be the second location where they installed this public exhibit. The first location was Washington, D.C. However, he said that if the commission requires a test to understand the reaction between the glue and brick, “We would be happy to do that.” Rodriguez explained that his team is committed to being good partners with the city because “We are interested in continuing with the city of Austin in the future as well.”

Although the commissioners were unable to approve the installation of the artwork at its meeting, they approved of the idea. To help move the process forward in time for the midterm elections, Myers suggested that Rodriguez contact Elizabeth Brummett in the architecture division of the Texas Historical Commission to see if permits need to be pulled and if there are any other requirements attached to installing art on a historical structure.

The commission voted to postpone the hearing until next month to allow the applicant time to learn more about how the implementation might affect the building, investigate removal techniques, and meet with someone at the Texas Historical Commission. The motion passed 7-1 with Commissioner Alex Papavasiliou voting against. Commissioners Emily Hibbs and Andrew Brown were absent.

To make it clear that the commissioners are simply concerned with the well-being of the building and not opposed to the concept of the project, Myers reminded Rodriguez that they are acting as the caretakers of historic landmarks. “I don’t have a problem with the project, I have a concern with the condition of the building,” she said.

This story has been changed to correct a typo.

Photo by David E Hollingsworth (GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, or CC BY-SA 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons.

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