Happy new year from our Crew to yours! Hope everyone had a safe and happy holidays!
I wanted to follow up on Ahboga’s account of how we ended 2022. Thanks to him, I had the unique opportunity to witness an iconic local business here in Austin get a total storefront revamp: Coco’s Cafe on Guadalupe! I remember back in the day how excited I was to finally get access to bubble tea right there next to the UT Austin campus, along with other Taiwanese comfort food. I definitely spent my fair share of time at this little spot, perfect for late-night hangouts, snacking, and studying. And now, over 20 years later, I was getting a front-row seat to Coco’s image refresh by a popular local mural artist.
This story is made a bit more bizarre because I somehow have kept crossing paths with Coco’s mural artist intermittently over the last decade. In stark contrast to Ahboga, I’ve never been “cool” or in the know. So me running into this free-spirited artist over the last 10 years has been completely by chance and coincidence. Introducing, musician, painter, and muralist Peelander Yellow!
I’m so glad I finally had the chance to get to know Yellow a little this time rather than just being a random encounter with a selfie. Yellow (he said I could just call him “Yellow”, does that mean we’re homies now? 😀) has painted over 70 murals so far in his lifetime. Over 30 are in Austin alone. He’s done a few in Japan and would love to do more in other parts of the world. He used to live in New York and has done mural work there as well. He has always loved Austin and found himself frequently flying back and forth between New York and Austin before he and wife Peelander Pink (“Pink”) finally moved to Austin in 2016. Many people thought he was already a local prior to 2016 since he was here so much for mural work and studio recording, but in actuality, he became a true Austin local starting in 2016.
Is his favorite color yellow? “It is now,” he answered with his signature toothy grin.
It was fascinating to watch Yellow work. Having already done sketches to show Coco’s the intended mural, and now trying to implement it onto the wall, it was clear that pre-planning for his work is crucial. He stood back before beginning, and would step back frequently while working to check his progress, marking with small pieces of painter’s tape to help track the proportions of the figures he had planned to paint, adjusting on the fly to whatever needs needed to be met, making impromptu updates to his artwork because it felt right, painting roughly before committing to the outline – he is a true professional and a true artist.
I have been curious about Yellow and his band Peelander Z ever since I was first introduced to Yellow at East Side King Liberty Bar in 2013. My husband gifted me a “Mike” t-shirt one year for my birthday (in reference to their song “So Many Mike”). Their music is categorized as “comic punk” and it is so fitting. They have this hard-looking punky persona but their act is so hilarious and super child-friendly (aside from how loud they are – bring ear protection for the littles if you bring them!). I was able to introduce my kids to Yellow this time around, and for the first time they did not cower with shyness of this man with the neon yellow beard they had unknowingly run into several times before. While undertaking this incredibly physically challenging mural job on this brutally cold day, Yellow was effortlessly kind and encouraging to my girls, and even waved them over to help paint a few strokes on Coco’s mural. So many worlds came crashing together for me that day – I finally got to actually meet Yellow after all these years, who was infusing fresh new energy into a place that I have so many fond memories of from my college days, all because my old friend and Much Love Crew founder Ahboga was involved in the project, and invited me to come along and help wherever possible.
Coco’s storefront redesign makes me feel like how I want my 2023 to be: cheerful, fearless, and with more bubble tea in my life. I sincerely hope you check out Coco’s new mural, fill up on delicious Taiwanese food, and get inspired to go forth and spread positivity. Much love. <3