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 barroom. From what I've heard it's being run by a former manager of the legendary Contenental Club in downtown Austin, and it's got some connections to the old Armadillo World Headquarters crowd.
Like I said earlier, it wasn't the marquis with the famous band names on it which caught my eye, it was this new sign with just the name of the place. It wasn't the name itself - though it's evocative - it was the way it was painted. 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 which 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, 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 which 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.