Austin/ Arts & Culture
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Published on April 11, 2024
Austin FC Fans Immortalized in Vibrant 81-Foot Mural at McKalla Station, Celebrating Community SpiritSource: X / CapMetro

Right outside Austin FC's Q2 Stadium, CapMetro pulled the curtain back on a stunning display of local fervor and flair: a 7-foot-9-inch by 81-foot-10-inch mosaic mural at the Red Line's newly minted McKalla Station. Named "The Heartbeat of Austin," and stationed fittingly at the heart of soccer pulse in North Austin, the artwork turns the spotlight on the city's Major League Soccer team faithful, as they embody the city's infectious spirit in pixelated glass glory. According to Austin American Statesman, J Muzacz, the artist at the helm, opted to honor the "everyday people" - from transit workers to community members, all who bleed Austin FC's verdant hues.

While the unveiling on April 6 was a spectacle, unmatched, perhaps save for the adrenaline-fueled matches themselves, the mural represents more than just stunning art. CapMetro shelled out a cool $100,000 to commission Muzacz, with funds earmarked from CapMetro's capital project stash, as shared by their spokesperson Jorge Ortega to Austin American Statesman. But here's the catch: tuning in with the station's purpose, it's not just a backdrop for selfies and spectacle. In a highly collaborative effort, the mural saw around 200 volunteers put their back into it, piecing together over 130,000 glass tiles with more than 500 pounds of grout into a symbol of community unity and dedication, as reported by Spectrum News.

Riding high on a wave of personal sentiment, Muzacz recounted in the Austin American Statesman that while his first Austin FC game experience was "pretty chill," subsequent matches in the rowdy supporter section upped the ante, fueling his creative zest. Muzacz threw himself into the fray, rubbing elbows with supporter groups like La Murga de Austin and Los Verdes to glean inspiration. This, in turn, infused the mural with the kind of raw, pulsating energy seen on match days when the very air seems ablaze with chants and cheer.

Standing tall on Delta Drive, the mural is more than just a snapshot; it's an enduring salute to those stoking the Austin FC fervor. As Muzacz wittily observed, immortalizing the city's movers and shakers sans cleats - namely your neighbor, bus driver, or local teacher - lends a grounded authenticity. "You don't see them on TV, but that's kind of the point," he mused to the Austin American Statesman, highlighting an often-overlooked cadre of leaders, their stories emblazoned in glass as a reminder of Austin's rich cultural tapestry. Such is the heart of this community project, welcoming fans and visitors alike, a palpable proof of Austin's artistic ardor and its people's everyday heroics, echoed in the colorful tiles of "The Heartbeat of Austin."

After the fanfare, Muzacz didn't hightail it out; he headed straight for the impassioned roars of the Austin FC crowd, Austin American Statesman reported. Nestled amongst the voices of the supporters section, he watched his team clinch a "nail-biting" 4-3 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes, the same energy he hopes will reverberate through his mural for years to come, standing as a testament to the unifying strength of art, sport, and community. As the station whirs with arriving trains and pumped fans, Muzacz's mosaic serves both as a mirror and a window into the vibrant soul of Austin— a soul wrought in color, cheer, and the collective beat of a city's heart.