Thursday, February 23, 2012


Cathedral of Junk ~ Austin, Texas

Yep, you heard me right - Cathedral of JUNK.

Now wait Rebecca, isn't that just a fancy name for the Junk Yard?  Or my neighbor's garage??

Nope.  Since 1992, in the backyard of a local artist's home, lives an amazing pile of....well, junk.  But it's amazing junk......

And this past week, I took the kids out to find out why Austin is so "weird".  This place show kept with that tradition:

When you first arrive, you are overwhelmed with the enormity of it all - the fact that it is all built out of stuff that you & I threw away as junk and this artist made it into a work of art.  Surfboard, tires, cd players, toys, bowling balls, motorcycles, glass bottles....the list goes on and on.
As I edited all the pictures I took when we visited, I was saddened that the pictures don't really do the "Art" justice.  I mean, it looks like a big pile of junk.  But look closer......
Get real close and look around you - everywhere you look you are overwhelmed with nostalgia.
 Hey, look, there's that walkman I just to carry with me everywhere!   Look at that huge video, you used to have to hold it on your shoulder it was so heavy!  What?  Is that a motorcycle built out of wire?  Yes, this IS a telephone, the rotary would dial the number for you. Aww, look at the smurfs I found...

I must have walked past this one area 7 times and each time I saw something new.

The fact that art is made out of someone's else's junk was fascinating to the kids.  They loved exploring, as the Cathedral is 3 stories high (it's very sturdy). With rooms and passageways, my kids were kept busy finding new and amazing things to point out.
We also enjoyed finding fun photo opportunities.....
The unassuming artist, Vince Hannemann, was working on a "restoration" of the Cathedral when we visited. Facing neighbor complaints and regulatory concerns from the City of Austin, Vince began tearing down the 33-foot tall tower in June of 2010.   Over 100 volunteers spent 7 months getting rid of over 40 tons of junk and rebuilding it to the structure it is today. To learn other creative approaches to trash reuse, check out mfa degree to find classes that can teach you about the concept of recycling and the art of junk.
To him, it's a tree-house of sorts, built lovingly with junk people bring him.  Vince is down to earth and we had a great time hearing how it was built, how it has evolved and funny stories of weddings and plays and other unusual events that he his backyard.  How often can you say you talked to the artist kids?
Since it is in his backyard, he doesn't post hours and he doesn't charge an admission (but a donation is sure nice!!).  He is around on the weekends to accommodate visitors.  But you can also give him a call during the week and set up an appointment like we did - we had the place to ourselves the whole time!
The kids gave it a "thumbs up"!  They were fascinated and it was a definite fun stop on our quest to "Keep Austin Weird!"

Other Fun Things to Do in Austin:

Texas Travels Facts about The Cathedral of Junk:
Location: 4422 Lareina Dr Austin, TX
Hours: No "official" hours - there most weekends, call for weekday appt. (512-299-7413)
Admission: Free
Recommended Time: 1 hour
Good to Know: great for kids, bring water as it can get hot in the summer, were tennis shoes to explore in, owner has friendly dogs


MiMi said...

That's just amazing, really.

Steve said...

That really is pretty cool. I'll bet you're pretty careful about throwing anything in the garbage once you've visited there.

Rustown Mom said...

My kids and i love this place! The owner is super friendly and laid back and I love what he's done with his house out front as well. He says the COA gives away buckets of that crushed glass gravel he has sprinkled around - wish I could find a use for that at my own house.

Good Time Charlie said...

This is amazing. Being a junk lover, I have to get to this place. I bet your kids had an amazing time!