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Arts + Culture

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On the Trail

Arts +

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is an important and unique place in the heart of downtown Austin. Due to its natural aesthetic, proximity to the lake in an urban setting, and what it offers the community, it has become a highly personal and beloved space to its users.

In 2022, The Trail Conservancy (TTC) partnered with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) and the City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program to create an Arts + Culture Plan for the Butler Trail that would contribute to the space and elevate the user experience, while not overwhelming, distracting, or complicating the environment. The Arts+Culture Program seeks to embody the voices of many groups while embracing the act of “peacekeeping” in ways that are meaningful.

Current Arts + Culture Projects

TEMPO on the Trail

TEMPO is a temporary art exhibition on the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail that is intended to cultivate curiosity, spark imagination, and encourage exploration of the city of Austin.

TEMPO on the Trail is a partnership between The Trail Conservancy and The City of Austin’s Art in Public Places (AIPP).

Get involved with Arts+Culture on the Trail

PAST Arts + Culture Projects


Wisteria is reminiscent of the abstract qualities of unexpected forts found in interstitial spaces where nature meets the built environment. Like the branchy tunnel at ground level between azalea bushes and a fence line or the circular void around a gnarled trunk found within a freestanding wisteria bush, Wisteria proposes a surprise destination and whimsical hideout.

Read More about Wisteria and all our Fortlandia Forts here

The Current Underneath

The Current Underneath was installed inside the former water intake facility of the Seaholm Power Plant, future site of the Seaholm Waterfront Building. The dadaLab team activated one of the intake facility’s massive underground concrete chambers by designing slowly evolving laser-light elements that could be viewed from above and emitted outward from the chamber above the viewer’s heads. The piece paid tribute to the history of the facility by creating liquid effects with the lasers to emulate the water that used to run through it.

See more photos of the installation here

Fortlandia - Phoenix Trail

Phoenix Trail is a dynamic fort installation that celebrates regeneration and nature’s resiliency. Inspired by the prescribed burns in the Hill Country Trails area of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Phoenix Trail is about rising from the ashes and starting anew.

Read More about Phoenix Trail and all our Fortlandia Forts here

Fort art installation

Common Waters

The Common Waters Demonstration Project celebrates Lady Bird Lake by intersecting art, activism, environment, and community with a collaborative temporary art installation to inform the Trail Conservancy’s Art + Culture Plan. The Common Waters project highlights the beauty and importance of Lady Bird Lake, the heart and common connector behind the Austin community. Artists Rejina Thomas, Ruben Esquivel, and Taylor Davis designed, fabricated, and installed a 10’ x 15’ floating wetland on Lady Bird Lake. These artists have a profound understanding of the history and culture of the minority communities in Austin and have a shared goal of honoring those communities. TTC, an environmental artist, Stacy Levy, and Austin-based curator, Public City, joined with these artists to make this goal a reality. 

Fortlandia - Star Dome

Star Dome is a large 5-pointed Lone Star, laid over a hemispheric dome. In maps, a star denotes a capital, and Star Dome becomes a visual representation of where the viewer is placed: Austin, TX, the capital of the state. 

Read More about Star Dome and all our Fortlandia Forts here

Star Dome, a fort art installation
Image of fort art installation

Fortlandia - territories.

Childhood play is so often focused on discovery— the discovery of place, material, and potential creations. This discovery can be found at any scale, alone or with friends, and ultimately fosters imagination and interaction, even with strangers. Our fort aims to tap into this type of play by establishing a series of strategic shelters or territories, which can be continually defined and redefined by the interaction of its occupants. 

Read More about territories. and all our Fortlandia Forts here

Share Your Story

Share your Butler Trail and Lady Bird Lake stories with us. You can read submitted Trail user stories from Trailheads on our blog.

View all the art on the Trail!

Goals for Arts + Culture Along the Trail

TTC will organize arts and culture projects that will achieve the following artistic outcomes:

  • Cultivate a process that allows creation and placement of site-specific art that challenges artists and offers Trail users fresh experiences – environmental, historical, cultural
  • Create a sense of place through the cultivate of environmental awareness and the expression of environmental consciousness
  • Embrace the connection of the Trail to the world around it – community, city, watershed, ecosystem


TTC will organize arts and culture projects that will achieve the following community outcomes:

  • Acknowledge historical and ongoing inequities that have shaped access to and ideas about public space, open space, and sustainability in Austin
  • Promote healing relationships – for communities, individuals, and the land
  • Create new meanings for users and expand Austin’s collective memory about the Trail
  • Expand people’s connection to the Trail; broaden and deepen the constituency that uses the Trail and sustains it

Learn more about the Arts + Culture Planning Process

Frequently Asked Questions

The Trail Conservancy convened a Community Brain Trust to advise the Art + Culture Plan. This group, created just for the planning process, worked alongside standing TTC committees that guide arts and culture activities, ecological planning, and project planning. Reflecting various interests of Austinites, the Brain Trust was a committed mix of neighbors, Trail users, equity advocates, cultural anchors, and business and community leaders from districts along the Trail and beyond. The purpose of the Brain Trust was to help shape the engagement strategy in a way that resonates with the Trail’s communities, and to educate the team on the cultural, social, and environmental context of the Trail from a diversity of perspectives.

The Trail Conservancy, in partnership with the Austin Parks and Recreation, will announce community engagement events where new information and updates will be presented to the community.

Arts + Culture is a new focus for the Trail Conservancy.
If you are interested in learning more about getting involved and investing in our Arts + Culture program, contact

The Trail Conservancy, in partnership with Austin Parks and Recreation, is always looking for community involvement in projects on the Trail. If you’re interested in being a part of this Program, please contact Caitlin Young at