SXSW founder and sign maker: We changed “David Bowie” street sign


Roland Swenson, co-founder of South by Southwest, and Austin sign maker Jason Carter took what their attorney described as “full responsibility” Friday for replacing the Bowie Street sign with the name of music legend David Bowie, capping the city’s biggest whodunit of the week.

The sign, near the intersection with West Fifth Street, was altered Wednesday morning following the performer’s death on Sunday.

“It really took off in a way I didn’t expect or imagine,” Swenson told the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV Friday.

Attorney Perry Minton said his clients wanted to confess to eliminate the need for Austin police to spend any investigative time trying to identify who placed the sign.

Because the city did not file an official report regards the sign, Austin police have not opened an investigation to find who changed the sign, an Austin police spokeswoman said Friday. Police officials previously had said whoever was responsible for the sign change could face misdemeanor charges of theft and criminal mischief.

After Swenson and Carter came forward, the Austin Transportation Department said in a statement that the city was exploring its options regarding the incident.

“It is against the law to damage, deface, and/or steal street signs. Additionally, the repair and replacement of these signs is paid for with tax payer dollars,” the statement said.

Earlier this week, the transportation department said it had opted to leave the altered sign in place until Tuesday morning because it did not represent an immediate safety concern.

After he had the idea to change the sign, Swenson mentioned it to a few friends. Carter, owner of Wicked Signs, was contacted by an intermediary, he said.

Carter said he simply placed a decal on the existing sign and added the word “David” to Bowie Street.

Swenson had previously said SXSW had nothing to do with the sign switch.

Swenson said the sign change has brought positive attention to the city.

“It’s good for the city and it’s been fun,” he said.

American-Statesman staff writer Nicole Chavez contributed to this story.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Missing Buda man found dead in Travis County, officials say
Missing Buda man found dead in Travis County, officials say

A missing Buda man with “severe medical issues” was found dead Wednesday in Travis County, Buda police said. Buda police did not immediately release his cause of death. Before his body was found, 69-year-old David Dvorchak had last been seen Monday, leaving his Buda home for an appointment, Buda police said.
Cornyn, Cruz take opposing sides in Senate debate
Cornyn, Cruz take opposing sides in Senate debate

It was as close to a standoff as ever happens on the Senate floor: Texas GOP U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz were standing next to each other but working against each other, trying to convince a hold out senator to vote their way on foreign surveillance legislation. The clock was ticking on Tuesday night, with the usual 15-minute procedural vote...
Trump invokes Barbara Jordan in immigration debate, angering Democrats
Trump invokes Barbara Jordan in immigration debate, angering Democrats

President Donald Trump added an unexpected name into the national debate over immigration policy Wednesday by invoking the words of Barbara Jordan, the late groundbreaking Texas Democrat, in a message honoring her on the 22nd anniversary of her death. Trump said his “America First” immigration agenda was furthering “the spirit of...
Paxton: School voting action appears to violate state law
Paxton: School voting action appears to violate state law

A resolution encouraging students and public school employees to vote, adopted by school districts across the state, might have violated a state law that prohibits using public education money for partisan purposes, an opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Wednesday. Texas Educators Vote, a partnership of mostly pro-public education groups...
Man accused of starting 4 fires inside portable restroom in downtown Austin, officials say 
Man accused of starting 4 fires inside portable restroom in downtown Austin, officials say 

A man was arrested Tuesday after setting fire in four separate occasions to a portable restroom in downtown Austin, Austin fire officials said.  Dewight Eric Clayton, 32, who is homeless, was charged with arson of a building, officials said. He was not in Travis County Jail Wednesday evening.  Austin fire Capt. Andy Reardon, with the Fire...
More Stories