“He embodies the spirit of Austin,” says Ross, 33, who has painted several Austin murals including “Willie” at Seveth at Neches Street. “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.”