Bison on Chavez Stands Strong
Updated: Sep 15
Eleven heart installations were created and installed along César Chávez St. in East Austin for the "Hearts of the East Side" project. From brightly lit designs to three-dimensional works of art, it has added intricate and one-of-a-kind hearts along the pathway.
Each heart piece was created by a different individual, which allowed the artists to express themselves in a unique way, share a meaningful story, and most importantly, bring East Austin together.
Levack said that this area was a crucial point of migration and transportation. “I wanted to play on that theme,” Levack adds. “I’m big on the long-term history of any location, particularly my hometown of Austin.”
The surrounding steel heart was provided by fellow Hearts of the East Side artist and dependable friend, Todd Campbell. Levack decided to face the bison towards the main bank of the Colorado River, one of the two directions the bison would naturally migrate.
“Before this was César Chávez it was East 1st street, and before that it was a horse trail that led into town,” said Levack. “Before that this was the banks of the Colorado River. The banks of the river served as the main migratory paths for the thousands of bison between Blackland Prairie and the Hill Country.”
With Levack’s forte of outdoor, larger scale sculptures, he strives to use materials that withstand the elements and blend naturally with the environment.
He was particularly interested in this project when approached by longtime friend and colleague, Selena Sounders. “My outdoor work made it fitting to create something both three-dimensional and that can endure,” Levack noted.
To construct the bison, Levack outlined the head of the bison with steel. The bison is filled with juniper, cut from the nearby riverbed. He made the decision to work with this material because of its long-lasting life outdoors, and its overall high quality as an exterior grade wood.
“My mission statement is to create things that both compliment and endure the Texas environment,” Levack said when describing his work process.
For more than a decade now, Levack has drawn inspiration from local Austin landscape into his outdoor works of art. His work stands proudly in places all over the city of Austin. From local parks, trails, skate parks, and surrounding Austin’s rivers. Embodying Austin’s rich history, Levack strives to tell past stories through each of his pieces. And it does, bringing images from yesterday and incorporating them for current and future generations.