Austin Central Library unveils mural honoring artist Daniel Johnston for ‘Hi, How Are You? Day’

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A new exhibit in the Austin Central Library shows off a new mural celebrating artist Daniel Johnston and also displayed some of his original art. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Wednesday marked “Hi, How Are You? Day” in Austin. Inspired by the late artist and musician Daniel Johnston it aimed to raise awareness for mental health issues. Austin celebrated this year by creating a new mural honoring Johnston in the Austin Central Library.

Johnston is the artist behind the now iconic “Hi, How Are You?” mural on 21st Street and Guadalupe Street featuring the phrases’ mascot Jeremiah the innocent. Jeremiah has become an Austin icon even inspiring the likes of Kurt Cobain.

This year marked the first time Johnston was not in attendance for “Hi How Are You? Day” after passing away late last year. The day of celebration was started in 2018 by the “Hi, How Are You? Project”.

This year the Austin Central Library unveiled a mural in Johnston’s honor on the fourth floor. The piece is titled “Jeremiah the Innocent and friends in Zilker Park.” The space to install was chosen deliberately because it houses the library’s Austin collections.

Daniel left a lot of legacies and art and music. But I also think the way he was so courageous and brave and vulnerable about his mental health issues was one of the biggest legacies in my personal opinion,” said the Austin Central Library Exhibit Coordinator Jieun Kim. “And I want people to not only remember Daniel and his artworks and music, but also to remember his message of encouragement to embrace our mental health issues, but also be OK to talk about it with others.

The mural prominently features Jeremiah, but also several recurring characters from Johnston’s sketches and Johnston himself playing piano in the lower right corner. A display of Johnston’s original sketches featuring these other characters is also on display in the library.

In 2018, American Campus Communities, a student-housing developer, purchased the Goodall Wooten building, where the original “Hi, How Are You?” mural is located. The developer said he plans to preserve Johnston’s work and legacy for future generations.

The Library Foundation, Austin Public Library and the “Hi, How Are You? Project” are hosting a reception Friday night to officially unveil the new mural. The event takes place at the Austin Central Library rooftop lounge at 6:30 p.m. You can RSVP for the event here.

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