AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin FC fans will now be able to hitch a ride with dale pride, following the launch of a verde-themed CapMetro bus last week. The unveiling came as part of CapMetro’s groundbreaking ceremony for its upcoming McKalla Station, a new regional rail stop on the east side of Q2 Stadium that’s scheduled to open in late 2023.
And for Austin FC enthusiasts, the artwork might look familiar. Austin-based artist Fabian Rey created the wrap-around bus design this summer, following the debut of his Q2 verde mural back in February. Rey had been selected as part of the ATXFC Art Initiative, which collaborates with local artists on verde-themed artwork.
Rey said Austin FC reconnected with him and CapMetro leadership on new design ideas they had for the upcoming station. During those discussions, Rey expressed interest in designing a bus — and the rest is history.
After digitally constructing the design, CapMetro printed and had it wrapped around the bus, he said.
For this latest piece, Rey said he wanted to embrace the Hispanic and Latino heritage prevalent in both Austin and the FC community, making a point to include Spanish phrases like “palante” and “conecta conmigo” within the design.
“I think more and more, we should have more art out there,” he said, adding: “When [riders] see Spanish, when they see the colors, they feel that we’re talking to them. And it’s true: I’m talking to them.”
That idea of connection was critical, Rey said, after many years of disconnect and divisiveness among different communities. While this bus will physically connect people to their destination, he said he hopes the design can unite people from different backgrounds through their shared love of sports.
“Art gets us all together on the same page, because it doesn’t matter if you’re Black, white or Puerto Rican. You embrace and you look at it, and you have an opinion,” he said. “And the same is with sports: We go out there, we’re all rooting for the same team. We’re not necessarily friends but we connect and we make this sport better, because we connect and we have a great time together.”
The medium of public art on a bus also makes the piece more accessible to the general public, he said, who don’t need to necessarily go to Q2 Stadium or attend an art gallery to feel a bit of the verde spirit.
He said he sees it more as a “moving mural,” with “conecta conmigo” highlighting community spirit, while “energia verde” — or “green energy” — serves as a multifaceted nod at both the bus’ all-electric design paired with Austin FC’s signature color.
When he first moved to Austin from his native Puerto Rico more than seven years ago, Rey said he struggled to find a piece of himself in the city. Now, every time a friend texts him a picture of the bus traveling downtown or throughout the city, he says it’s like a piece of his heart — and his art — greeting the Austin community.
“I feel like I that I was from Puerto Rico coming to a new place and doing my thing and doing it with love,” he said. “Now I feel with this bus that I own part of the city, that I’m really in tune with the city and my heart is there.”