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Found Art: The Oaks

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Somewhere not far from Austin, just down the Farm-to-Market route near my house, a little roadhouse has opened up called “The Oaks.” It’s been open for a few weeks now, but just this past week they added this amazing sign.

The place has a lot going for it, but it’s going to take some more research before I can comment meaningfully on their lineup of hot Austin artists, the quality of their barbeque, or the ambiance of their bar-room. From what I’ve heard, it’s being run by a former manager of the legendary Continental Club in downtown Austin, and it’s got some connections to the old Armadillo World Headquarters crowd.

It wasn’t the older marquis with the famous band names on it that had previously caught my eye; it was this new sign with just the name of the place. It wasn’t even the name itself, though it’s evocative. It was the way it was painted.

[ADBLOCKHERE]I can’t help it. I’m a font designer, and there’s nothing more intriguing to me than when I see letters used in a way that could never be reproduced effectively within the constraints of a font design. The sign for “The Oaks” is a work of art, which could only be done as art and not as a mechanical product of calligraphy or graphic design like a traditional font. It’s a unique product of the imagination of the artist that can’t be broken down into its components or adapted to any other purpose.

I hear it’s the work of one of the artists who did posters for The Armadillo back in the glory days — some of which rivaled the great paper from the Fillmore — and that he’s going to do more cool signage to go with it, but that’s not what matters. The work speaks for itself (click on it to see it in more detail), and it’s nice to see every time I drive home from town.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • That’s great. What I love about work like that is the way in which the elements of both the lettering and the tree blend together. I hate to get all hippy on you Dave but it has a great organic quality to it that you’d never be able to produce mechanically.

    I use to love taking road trips through eastern Ontario and Western Quebec years ago, because that type of signage was prevelent. It seems to be dying out now, as more people switch to easy, mass produced stuff.

    Dare I say that it’s a good sign to see something like that? Oh well I just did didn’t I?


    Richard Marcus

  • Richard, I may be writing more little articles like this with accompanying photos, because I’ve been finding clever little bits of artistry more than ever before and in unexpected places – even commercial architecture which includes unexpected bits of clever artifice.

    I’ve also got a correspondent in Europe right now who’s sending me some remarkable signage photos which I hope to compile for a useful purpose at some point.