Austin gets new Willie Nelson mural

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A 60-foot-by-20-foot mural of Willie Nelson looms over traffic on East Seventh Street at Neches Street on Monday, February 22, 2016. Austin artist Wiley Ross completed the mural Sunday after a week of painting. Rudy Duran is dwarfed by the mural while posing for a photo. "He is Texas, as far as I'm concerned," said Duran, who came to look at the mural as soon as he heard about it. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A 60-foot-by-20-foot mural of Willie Nelson looms over traffic on East Seventh Street at Neches Street on Monday, February 22, 2016.  Austin artist Wiley Ross completed the mural Sunday after a week of painting.   Rudy Duran is dwarfed by the mural while posing for a photo.  "He is Texas, as far as I'm concerned," said Duran, who came to look at the mural as soon as he heard about it.  JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

A 60-foot-by-20-foot mural of Willie Nelson looms over traffic on East Seventh Street at Neches Street. Rudy Duran is dwarfed by the mural while posing for a photo. “He is Texas, as far as I’m concerned,” said Duran, who came to look at the mural as soon as he heard about it. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Willie Nelson has his own street, statue and now new mural in Austin.

Artist and musician Wiley Ross teamed up with Heart of Texas Rockfest founder Adam Brewer to pay homage to the Texas icon with a 60-foot-by-20-foot mural on East Seventh at Neches Street.

“Willie embodies the spirit of Austin,” says Ross, 33, who has painted several Austin murals including a “78704” one on Manchaca Road. “We wanted to honor Willie and give back to Austin.”

After securing permission from building owners, Ross says he spent 80 hours for six straight days working on the mural in order to complete before the Heart of Texas Rockfest on March 16-19, which also coincides with South by Southwest. The giant portrait of Willie will serve as a backdrop for the rock festival.

Willie Nelson’s Facebook page shared a photo of the mural earlier this week with the message, “Another way to get a photo with Willie while you are in Austin, Texas.” It’s received more than 16,000 likes and more than 300 comments from fans.

“Willie is Austin!” one fan wrote on the page. “Very nice, he deserves it,” another fan wrote. Ross says he’s been overwhelmed by the overall positive response.

Nelson released his latest album “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” today, and will perform at Rodeo Austin on March 12 and March 18 as host of the Luck Reunion.

“My favorite part of the mural is that anywhere you go, Willie’s eyes follow you,” Ross says. “It’s like he’s watching over downtown Austin.”


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