Cathedral of Junk Builder Works Hard To Keep Austin Weird

Posted by Kent Redding on Thursday, April 13th, 2017 at 5:00pm

By The Kent Redding Group

AUSTIN, TX. - Over the years many locals have worked hard to keep Austin weird in spite of the city's record growth which has driven some artists away, but thankfully many artists remain who work hard to Keep Austin Weird including Vince Hannemann, builder of Austin's "Cathedral of Junk."

About The Cathedral Of Junk

Located at 4422 Lareina Dr in Austin Texas, the Cathedral of Junk didn't start out as a tourist attraction, Vince Hannemann just started out building a sculpture in his backyard, like he did at his childhood home in New Mexico, and his sculpture quickly evolved over the years into a well-known tourist attraction that many people want to see when they are passing through Austin Texas. 

The Cathedral of Junk is now so popular that it has it's own social media pages on Facebook and a profile on Google but what does his family think of his sculpture?

His mother christened it the Cathedral of Junk and its congregation has grown steadily in the last few years.

Asked about the pyramid of crutches at the apex of the cathedral, Hannemann said, “There are some things you can never have enough of.”
They come in a steady stream — in singles and small groups. The cathedral has become a shrine for the curious and a venue for weddings, bachelor parties, school field trips and Girl Scout gatherings. The archbishop of the cathedral, Vince Hannemann, welcomes all and asks only that you believe in keeping Austin weird (the Texas capital’s unofficial motto) and that you make an appointment.

“Just let everyone know they can’t just show up,” Hannemann emphasized as he ushered us through the aisles and up, down and around this 32-foot-high structure. “They have to call first.”

We did — and the cathedral was the first stop on our recent visit to Austin.

We perused and cruised slowly in an attempt to take it all in — an impossibility, really. So much detail; so little time. This monument contains thousands of parts, pieces and whole items — shiny and dull — whose death sentences have been commuted in order to serve new purposes.

Nothing is off-limits when it comes to defining components of the Cathedral of Junk in Austin, Texas.

There are Barbie dolls, bicycle rims, CDs, rubber duckies, a toilet, dial telephones, circuit boards, tennis rackets, plastic dishes, broken pottery, streets signs, hubcaps, and perhaps fittingly, a large plastic Virgin Mary lawn ornament.

Climbing to the top of the cathedral, visitors will see wired or tied together or embedded in cement a comb, pliers, horseshoes, pottery pieces, scattered shells, a flashy-colored fish, glass soda bottles, a tiny wrench and a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Two square feet of the Cathedral of Junk illustrates the density of the adornments and the dedication of the artist.
Perhaps more amazing is that the cathedral survived last night’s fierce rainstorm and the area’s reported 3,000 lightning strikes. Is it not a miracle that the pyramid of crutches at the cathedral’s peak was not fried or that this entire tabernacle of treasures did not go up in flames?

Back in 2010, life in this Austin backyard was not so tranquil. Neighbors who didn’t agree with Hannemann’s definition of art called the city of Austin to complain that the cathedral was too big and the pilgrims were too numerous. There followed attempts to dismantle the cathedral with regulations, inspections and permits. Seven years ago this month,

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