Six Square is the nexus of thriving Black arts and culture in Central East Austin. We re-animate cultural spaces, connect community, and honor the past, present, and future of Austin’s Black Cultural District.
Richard Arvin Overton (May 11, 1906–December 27, 2018) was an American supercentenarian who, by the time of his death at the age of 112 years, 230 days, was the oldest verified surviving U.S. World War II veteran and the oldest man in the U.S. Having served in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1945, Overton gained media attention during the 2013 Memorial Day weekend, when he met Texas Governor Rick Perry and was invited to the White House to meet President Barack Obama. At the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, he was singled out for praise by the president. Overton in his later years had become an Austin, Texas, icon, especially in his African-American East Side neighborhood, where he resided in the same home for more than 70 years. He loved conversation and had a great sense of humor, which is why complete strangers would sometimes visit his front porch just to talk to him. To celebrate his birthdays, the community would gather around that same porch, bringing food and lawn chairs while a DJ would play music. Other veterans from various branches, firefighters, and distinguished city leaders, such as Mayor Steve Adler, would stop by to salute the grateful Overton. Overton was the subject of a 2016 National Geographic documentary, Mr. Overton, in which he discusses his daily routine, military service, and longevity—which was belied by his great affinity for smoking multiple cigars per day as well as drinking a shot of whiskey in the morning and one at night. He was featured in Cigar Aficionado magazine in 2015, where he credits tobacco and God for his long life. In 2017, Ernesto Hernandez Ramirez approached city council member Ora Houston about creating a mural honoring Overton. Her office put him in contact with Mr. Kenneth Thompson, radio host and community activist, who then directed him to Nefertitti Jackmon, director of Six Square, a nonprofit that works to preserve and celebrate the historic legacy of the African-American community that once thrived in central East Austin. Along with project director Ashton Cumberbatch III, who brought leading architects, landscape designers, and engineers to the project, they developed the idea for a mural garden, with the Overton mural the centerpiece of various artworks depicting the history of African Americans in Austin. Hernandez has designed the interactive installation to be exhibited in different locations as a tool to educate people, especially youth, about Mr. Overton’s legacy. He is a self-taught muralist who has been painting public artworks for over 20 years, and for the last 10 years, has been researching and practicing incorporating various materials and art mediums into murals. The Overton mural installation is the first important piece of a new style he has coined as Muralism 4D. That is, to captivate the attention of younger audiences, who are used to a more visually dynamic world, incorporating augmented reality (AR) into the design. Viewers will be able to scan a QR code on their phones and see elements of the mural installation move while additional images will appear. He is working David Figueroa from augmentelpaso.com to incorporate AR. The mural installation will be unveiled at SXSW events hosted by Box Bazaar, a project funded by the City of Austin, and Six Square. Box Bazaar will exhibit the installation, serving as a small business incubator and a fun hangout for the community on the East Side. The mural will then be moved to a more permanent location in a year.