Hi, How Are You Day Asks Artists and Communities to Use Four Words to Create a Global Conversation Around Mental Health and Well-being
Stellar Lineup Comes Together for Fundraising Concert on January 22, 2019, Supporting Mental Health Awareness Programs
AUSTIN, Texas (November 16, 2018) - The Hi, How Are You (HHAY) Project announced that the second annual Hi, How Are You Day will take place on January 22, 2019. Developed to educate people worldwide about the importance of mental health and well-being while promoting a culture of inclusion, HHAY Day features a global fundraising concert hosted at the Austin, Texas, ACL Live at the Moody Theater. The concert will feature performances by the The Flaming Lips, Built to Spill, Yo La Tengo and The Moth & The Flame. Additional musical guests will be announced in the coming weeks, with all artists donating their time and efforts to this cause.
One in four adults struggle with mental health. But, it only takes four words, one simple question to let someone know you care: “Hi, How are you?” HHAY Project founders Tom Gimbel and Courtney Blanton were inspired to create HHAY Day by iconic Austin musician and visual artist Daniel Johnston’s famous local mural “Jeramiah the Innocent,” which is painted on the corner of Guadalupe and 21st Street. The mural depicts a frog asking the ever-important question – “Hi, how are you?” Johnston has chronicled his struggles with mental health throughout his career.
“The mission of Hi, How Are You Day is to get the word out about Daniel’s art and music AND to make it routine that we recognize the worth of people struggling with depression, anxiety, learning disabilities or mental illness,” said Dick Johnston, Daniel Johnston’s brother and Hi, How Are You Project co-founder. “There’s real potential here for people to benefit from pausing to understand our common human experience, to offer help to friends and family experiencing these things and to celebrate success at life against these odds.”
“We are participating because we love Daniel’s music, and being part of a thing that celebrates his music with a bunch of other artists is always fun…and we love Austin…any excuse to play there is cool with us,” said Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. “I think mainstream society may still be a little way off from really understanding mental health issues, but the underground art and music scene has, for a long time, had a great empathy and a willingness to help with friends and family with mental health issues.”
HHAY Day offers multiple ways to get involved locally and internationally, including:
Purchasing tickets for the HHAY Day show at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. Tickets go on sale on November 19, 2018. Advance tickets can be purchased here www.acl-live.com. Ticket prices start at $49. Proceeds of the concert will go to the HHAY Project to fund the production of media to raise awareness of the importance of having open conversations surrounding mental health, peer-to-peer training and grants to leading mental health organizations.
Sharing information about and attending a free support event at 3TEN from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. featuring acoustic performances from local artists. During “Happiness Hour” from 3-5 p.m., attendees can engage with and obtain mental health support information from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Integral Care, the SIMS Foundation and Austin Child Guidance Center.
Participating in and sharing the YouTube live stream of this event, including coverage of events taking place in New Zealand and Ireland. Donations will be accepted online at www.hihowareyou.org.
Becoming a Friendly Frog Ambassador. Visit www.hihowareyou.org to get involved and become a certified supporter for your community.
Last year, HHAY Day took root in Austin for the first time, and Gimbel and Blanton have worked to expand the impact of the day this year.
“Clearly, mental health is in the press more than ever, but so much more remains to be done,” said Blanton. “Statistics show us that depression, anxiety, and suicide are on the rise. Removing the stigma is the first step towards a productive public dialog about mental health. I believe that Hi, How Are You Day is going to be the ‘Live Aid moment,’ and 2019 is going to be the year that we turn the tide and make a positive change in the conversation around mental health.”
This year, HHAY Day is made possible with the support of A10 Partners, FleishmanHillard, GSD&M, iHeartMedia, Margin Walker Presents, MusiCares, PwC and United Talent Agency.
"I have had the privilege of working with Daniel Johnston for 25 years,” said Gimbel. “He is both a longtime friend and a lifetime inspiration. The message that the Friendly Frog in the Hi, How Are You mural sends reminds us of how simple it can be to connect with each other. Now we’re taking this phrase to the world to help erase the stigma of mental health challenges.”
ABOUT THE HI, HOW ARE YOU PROJECT
The Hi, How Are You (HHAY) Project was created to generate new conversation around mental well-being. The name and city-proclaimed HHAY Day were inspired by Austin’s love for the iconic mural painted by Daniel Johnston. On January 22nd (Johnston’s birthday), people everywhere are encouraged to check in on a neighbor, friend, co-worker, family member, or loved one and ask, “Hi, How Are You?” The Project, created with the support of the Johnston family, funds research grants, creates media and peer-to-peer training programs that encourage open dialogue on mental well-being. Johnston is a world-renowned musician and visual artist despite his own struggles with mental illness. www.hihowareyou.org
Read about the difference that the Hi How Are You Project is making in the world.
A U S T I N A M E R I C A N - S T A T E S M A N
Hi, how was it? Here’s what ‘Hi, How Are You?’ Day at the Mohawk was like.
January 23, 2018
It all came together with just two or three weeks of planning, but Monday’s “Hi, How Are You?” Day show at the Mohawk turned out to be a grand success, as many Austin musicians and hundreds of Daniel Johnston fans turned out to help the legendary Texas songwriter celebrate his 57th birthday.
Daniel Johnston performs during “Hi, How Are You?” Day at the Mohawk on Monday, January 22, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman
Presented by the new Hi, How Are You? Foundation, the event also benefited the mental health oriented SIMS Foundation and received support from the City of Austin’s Music & Entertainment Division. Mayor Steve Adler kicked things off with a proclamation and a short speech, saying that he is “no more proud to be a part of this community than I am when we take something like mental health and mental illness and we say that it is real.”
A half-dozen local acts followed with short sets, most playing one or two original tunes and then one of Johnston’s songs. Of the latter, the highlights in chronological order: Josh T. Pearson and Jonathan Terrell’s medley of “True Love Will Find You in the End” and “Don’t Play Cards With Satan”; Will Courtney singing “I Live My Broken Dreams”; Jane Ellen Bryant performing “Peek A Boo”; Cowboy Diplomacy playing “Some Things Last a Long Time”; longtime Johnston champions Kathy McCarty and Brian Beattie doubling up with “Hey Joe” and “Living Life”; and Moving Panoramas’ romp through “Speeding Motorcycle” with guest Laurie Gallardo.
Mayor Steve Adler, left, issues a “Hi, How Are You?” Day city proclamation at the Mohawk with Daniel Johnston, right, and event organizers Courtney Blanton and Tom Gimbel at the Mohawk on Monday, January 22, 2918. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman
Johnston hadn’t been formally announced as a musical participant, but he was onstage at the start with event organizers Tom Gimbel and Courtney Blanton during Adler’s proclamation, and he returned at the end to close things out with “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and a couple other short fragments of songs. Many of the night’s performers joined him for a touching return to “True Love Will Find You in the End.”
“Thanks so much for the party tonight,” he said with a final wave to the crowd and a “God bless you.” Inside, a cake awaited, baked in the shape of Johnston’s trademark Jeremiah the Innocent frog. All in all, a pretty beautiful way to spend a Monday evening in Austin.
N O I S E Y (V I C E U K)
Austin, Texas Celebrated Daniel Johnston with 'Hi, How Are You?' Day
The city declared January 22 a day for mental health awareness and support, in honour of the legendary musician.
Jan 23 2018, 8:59am
When I was 19, I got a tattoo of the little alien from the front cover of Daniel Johnston's Hi, How Are You? just above my right ankle. Even since then that weird and small guy has been there through some of the most difficult times in my life so far, always peeking out from underneath my jeans to remind me that you can make beauty out of difficulty. He's pretty chill.
So it's nice to know that the city of Austin, Texas, which was crucial to Johnston's rise in the late 1980s and 1990s (and which is home to the famous Hi, How Are You? mural), has adopted that same alien as an emblem of mental health support. It officially made yesterday, Johnston's birthday (January 22) Hi, How Are You? Day in honor of the singer, who suffers from schizophrenia and manic depression.
The day was launched by the Hi, How Are You? Foundation, in partnership with the charity SIMS Foundation, which offers mental health services to Austin musicians. It was endorsed by Austin mayor Steve Adler, who told NPR:
'Hi, How Are You?' is more than one of Austin's most iconic murals. It's a reminder to reach out to our friends and neighbors to see if they're OK, and for those experiencing mental health issues it's a reminder that you've got a whole community that can handle an honest answer because we want to help you get the help you need.
It's a fitting tribute to an artist who means so much to so many, and an excellent deployment of Johnston's own words: hi, how are you?
K U T A U S T I N ' S N P R S T A T I O N
It's 'Hi, How Are You?' Day Today In Austin
By JIMMY MAAS • JAN 22, 2018
Today is officially “Hi, How Are You Day” in Austin – a holiday that both honors onetime Austinite Daniel Johnston and hopes to raise awareness of mental health issues.
In a 1985 interview with MTV, Johnston said he had a nervous breakdown while recording his album “Hi, How Are You?” in 1983.
His “Jeremiah the Innocent” mural at 21st and Guadalupe – which features the character on “Hi, How Are You?” – has been emblazoned on Austin-themed T-shirts and tchotchkes since it was painted in the '90s. Johnston painted the mural on what used to be the Sound Exchange record store for $100 and all the records he could carry out of the shop, his family said.
"Hi, How Are You Day?" ends with an evening of music and art at the Mohawk on Red River.
On the event’s Facebook page, organizers said the goal is “shifting the mental well-being conversation from the clinical to the personal; empowering each one of us to stand with others who are in crisis or who just need an ear.”
The SIMS Foundation is also encouraging Austinites to share their stories about mental health with friends and family, as well as on social media.
S P I N
Austin Establishes ‘Hi, How Are You?’ Day to Honor Daniel Johnston
Tosten Burks // January 22, 2018
The city of Austin, Texas has declared January 22, aka Daniel Johnston’s birthday, “Hi, How Are You?” Day to support residents struggling with mental health issues. Named after the outsider folk legend’s album and mural of the same name, the holiday intends to boost mental health awareness and encourage locals to seek care.
“It’s a reminder to reach out to our friends and neighbors to see if they’re OK,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement to NPR Music. “And for those experiencing mental health issues it’s a reminder that you’ve got a whole community that can handle an honest answer because we want to help you get the help you need.”
Johnston, whose struggles with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are well-documented, gained notoriety in Austin in the ’80s for his lo-fi bedroom recordings. He painted the famed “Jeremiah the Innocent” frog—also featured on Hi, How Are You’s cover—on a wall outside a since-shuttered record store in 1993. The “True Love Will Find You In the End” singer concluded his final tour in November.
P I T C H F O R K
Austin Honors Daniel Johnston With “Hi, How Are You?” Day
January 22, named for Johnston’s album, is a day to support those struggling with mental health issues
Daniel Johnston, the legendary lo-fi folk artist, began his prolific career as a staple of Austin’s music scene. Today, the same city honored Johnston by making January 22 “Hi, How Are You?” Day—a day to support those struggling with mental health issues. Named after Johnston’s iconic album and mural in the city, the celebration was launched by the Hi, How Are You? Foundation in partnership with the SIMS Foundation—a non-profit providing mental health support to artists in Austin. Johnston has battled schizophrenia and manic depression for years and has spent significant portions of his life in psychiatric institutions. “Hi, How Are You?” Day also falls on his birthday.
“‘Hi, How Are You?’ is more than one of Austin's most iconic murals,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a statement to NPR Music. “It’s a reminder to reach out to our friends and neighbors to see if they’re OK, and for those experiencing mental health issues it’s a reminder that you’ve got a whole community that can handle an honest answer because we want to help you get the help you need.”
Last year, Johnston embarked on what was initially billed as his final tour (though Johnston himself argued that it wouldn’t be). In Chicago, he and Jeff Tweedy covered the Beatles’ “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.”
T H E R E C O R D M U S I C N E W S F R O M N P R
Austin Establishes 'Hi, How Are You?' Day To Encourage Mental Health Support
January 22, 201812:59 PM ET
Daniel Johnston, the outsider folk artist who became foundational (and totemic) in the music scene of his adopted home of Austin, Texas in the '80s and early '90s, turns 57 years old today. Austin and its "weird" scene was an incubator for Johnston and in turn he served as a heart for the city's own sleeve. To mark his contributions, the city has declared Jan. 22 "Hi, How Are You?" Day, a name taken from his 1983 album and a mural, featuring the frog-like character Jeremiah the Innocent, that Johnston painted on the corner of 21st St. and Guadalupe in the city.
More than simply marking Austin and Johnston's symbiosis, "Hi, How Are You?" Day is also piggybacking on his well-documented struggles with mental illness. The marking on Jan. 22 was suggested by Courtney Blanton and Tom Gimbel, co-founders of the Hi, How Are You? Foundation in partnership with the SIMS Foundation, a non-profit that provides mental health support to artists in the city.
"'Hi, How Are You?' is more than one of Austin's most iconic murals," Austin Mayor Steve Adler says in a statement provided to NPR Music. "It's a reminder to reach out to our friends and neighbors to see if they're OK, and for those experiencing mental health issues it's a reminder that you've got a whole community that can handle an honest answer because we want to help you get the help you need."
"Simply asking 'Hi, how are you?' can make a significant difference in someone's life," says one contributor to a video introducing the project.
Johnston's music career was and remains an unlikely one — defined and propelled by the rough hew of his recordings and their diary-entry confessionals, sung-spoken in his beseeching high-register. His home-recorded cassettes, passed around Austin, seemed to arrive at the perfect time; a moment when gloss and excess were being replaced by agitation and earnestness in the mainstream, when "weirdos" were claiming the spotlight on behalf of a disaffected — as it was characterized — generation.
Considering his persistent struggles — including one incident in which he threw, mid-flight, the keys out of an airplane his father was piloting — Johnston has been relatively lucky, all things — and crushing bouts of depression — considered. A major label recording deal, as NPR Music recently reported, failed to last but still provides financially for him. Other "outsider" artists, like Wesley Willis or Freak Smith and myriad others, fared worse — or much worse.
Supporting those struggling with mental illness can be fraught within the health system of the U.S. — but help can, sometimes, be as simple as a four-word question.
A U S T I N C H R O N I C L E
Playback: No Really, How Are You?
Daniel Johnston provides backstory to Hi, How Are You? Day, plus the first 2017/18 Austin Music Awards talent reveal
"People call it Jeremiah, like Jeremiah from the Bible, but it's not really the frog's name," clarified Daniel Johnston about the happy, tentacle-eyed amphibian famous from both his 1983 cassette Hi, How Are You: The Unfinished Album and the mural at Guadalupe & 21st Street. "I didn't have a name like that for the frog. I always called it the Innocent Frog.
"He's full of innocence the way I was back then."
The inimitable artist – whose lo-fi songs have been covered by Tom Waits and championed by Kurt Cobain, whose drawings of ducks, boxers, and Captain America sell in art galleries worldwide, and whose schizophrenia and manic-depression were explored in the 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston – has recently endured a rough go that includes hospitalization, falling, and frequent adjustments to his medication – his sister Margy Johnston told "Playback."
Nonetheless, the singer was upbeat last Friday when speaking by phone from his home in Waller, recalling the day in 1992 he painted the frog on the side of Sound Exchange, an erstwhile record store that kept a box of his cassettes by the cash register.
"I remember they paid me $70 to do it!" exclaimed Johnston. "And I was happy."
Former Sound Exchange employee/current Chronicle Listings Manager Mark Fagan says Johnston was a regular at the shop, often with a stack of drawings to sell to employees or trade for Beatles records. He says they supplied Johnston with a ladder and some paint one day, and the mural was done in a half hour. The initial rendition, he says, included flying eyeballs, but the neighboring church complained about the "satanic imagery." They were eventually painted over.
Today, most know the iconic image from its overhanging phrase: "Hi, how are you."
"When I was growing up, after church, everybody shook hands and would say, 'Hi. How are you?'" recounts Johnston. "I always heard it, even at the funeral home when there was some dead person who died of old age. The undertaker said to me, and I was just a little boy, 'Hi. How are you?' That's how that started.
"Then, when I worked at AstroWorld, I found a container in the garbage that held rubber frogs," he elaborates. "It had a picture of a frog and it said on it, 'Hi. How are you?' So I decided to name my album Hi, How Are You."
The Innocent Frog and its accompanying query remains omnipresent as a cultural landmark. You can buy it as a doll, a doormat, or a coffee mug, and now it's being used to frame discussions about mental health. The first-ever Hi, How Are You? Day, coming this Monday, Jan. 22 – Johnston's birthday – literally and figuratively puts a question mark on the artist's trademark phrase. Organizers envision it as a time for people to open up, in-person and online, about their mental well-being, thus eroding stigmas that keep us from talking about our issues.
"The Jeremiah mural has been staring us in the face for 25 years saying, 'Hi, how are you,' and we've overlooked the potential for something much more profound," says Daniel's longtime co-manager Tom Gimbel, who founded the Hi, How Are You Foundation with partner Courtney Blanton.
Blanton says the community's familiarity with Johnston and the Innocent Frog affords a comfortable environment for people to start sharing about their, or a loved one's, depression, anxiety, and mental illness.
"When I think of Jeremiah the Innocent, I'm reminded that people with mental issues are just that: innocent," says Blanton. "We don't choose this."
The effort coalesces at Mohawk with performances from Glass Eye's Kathy McCarty, still noted for 1992's all-Johnston cover LP Dead Dog's Eyeball, Lift to Experience singer/guitarist Josh T. Pearson, and Moving Panoramas with KUTX's afternoon deejay Laurie Gallardo. The gathering, benefiting SIMSand the new foundation, also features an art show including Johnston originals. While the celebrant himself isn't guaranteed to attend or expected to perform, he may yet feel compelled.
"If they're having a get-together in my honor, then I think I should play a few songs when the crowd's there," declares Johnston unprompted. "All I would need is a microphone and an amplifier, and I could bring one of my own guitars."
What would you sing?
"'Casper the Friendly Ghost' and maybe some new ones. I've been working on a new album with [Austin's] Brian Beattie for years, and I hope it comes out real soon."
A U S T I N 3 6 0
Hi, how are you? We’d like to tell you about ‘Hi, How Are You?’ Day.
AUSTIN (AUSTIN 360) – Daniel Johnston’s iconic mural of Jeremiah the Innocent adorns the wall of a building at 21st and Guadalupe streets. Don’t like Mondays? Well how about if it’s “Hi, How Are You” Day? That’s the case this coming Monday, January 22, as a handful of local organizations have come together for a special show at the Mohawk putting the spotlight on mental health awareness.
Spearheading the event is the recently formed “Hi, How Are You?” Foundation, created by Courtney Blanton and Tom Gimbel “to generate new conversation around mental well-being,” according to the foundation’s website. The name, of course, comes from renowned songwriter Daniel Johnston, whose mide-1980s cassette “Hi, How Are You?” helped launch a career and an identity for the underground musician who triumphed despite significant mental health issues.
The phrase is preserved in Johnston’s trademark frog mural on the side of a University of Texas campus-area building that once sold his tapes (and now, fittingly, is home to the restaurant Thai, How Are You?). Blanton and Gimbel’s foundation seeks to extend that legacy with their foundation.
Gimbel, the general manager of KLRU’s “Austin City Limits” music television program, explained via email earlier this week that the foundation grew from his own work with Johnston over the past quarter-century, as well as personal and family experience with mental health issues. “Our mission is to change the conversation and remove the stigma around mental illness,” he wrote.
Toward that end, the foundation is “asking everyone to check in on a neighbor, co-worker, friend, or loved one and ask ‘Hi, How Are You?'” on Monday. “If someone needs assistance, we want them to know that help and resources are available,” Gimbel says.
Mayor Steve Adler will officially proclaim Monday as “Hi, How Are You?” Day in the City of Austin, and the city’s Music & Entertainment Division is a co-presenter of that evening’s event at the Mohawk, as is longtime Austin music mental health resource the SIMS Foundation.
Doors open at 7 p.m., or 6:30 p.m. for VIP access to an art sale featuring works by Daniel Johnston, David Thornberry, Jason Archer, Miguel Rangel, Michael Sieben and Matthew Rodriguez. The art will remain for sale throughout the night. The music, which begins at 8 p.m. will partly be a tribute to Johnston. Acts including Kathy McCarty (whose 1995 album “Dead Dog’s Eyeball” remains the gold standard for Johnston covers), Moving Panoramas with KUTX’s Laurie Gallardo, Jane Ellen Bryant, Will Courtney, Cowboy Diplomacy and Leslie Sisson with Josh T. Pearson and Jonathan Terrell will play Johnston’s songs, as well as some of their own.
Tickets, $10 in advance and $15 day of show, or $50 VIP, are available through the event’s website.
K X A N N B C
Austin’s first ‘Hi, How Are You’ Day will promote mental health conversations
By Steffi Lee Published: January 18, 2018, 7:23 pm Updated: January 19, 2018, 8:52 am
AUSTIN (KXAN) – The famous piece of artwork on the corner of Guadalupe and 21st Street in Austin is inspiring a new mission to open up about mental health.
Daniel Johnston, a musician with a lot of influence on Austin’s music culture, painted Jeremiah the Innocent, the iconic “Hi, How Are You” frog.
“The frog has been here for 25 years and I don’t know if we’ve all thought about what it actually does mean,” Courtney Blanton, co-founder of the “Hi, How Are You” Foundation, said.
Johnston struggled with mental illness. Monday, Jan. 22 is his birthday and also the city’s first “Hi, How Are You” Day.
Jeremiah the Innocent, painted by musician Daniel Johnston is at the corner of Guadalupe and 21st St. (KXAN Photo/Steffi Lee)
“We want to promote people to talk openly and feel comfortable talking about mental illness,” Blanton said.
Tom Gimbel, general manager of Austin City Limits (ACL), co-founded the “Hi, How Are You” Foundation with Blanton. They hope the organization can provide an outlet where people can talk about and educate one another on mental well-being.
On Monday, the foundation encourages everyone to ask others how they’re doing, as well as share their stories about mental health on social media using the hashtag #HiHowAreYou.
Gimbel says the frog has been Austin’s “unofficial ambassador of friendliness,” which is what “Hi, How Are You” Day aims to embrace.
“Check in with a loved one,” Blanton said. “Check in with a neighbor and really ask instead of saying in passing, ‘hi, how are you?’”
According to Mental Health Texas, one in five adult Texans will experience a mental health concern at some point this year. More than 20 percent of children between the ages of nine to 17 have a diagnosed mental illness.
Angela Mantia says the four words can be a reminder about how strong the human connection is.
“It’s not them we need to change and fix,” she said. “We need to change how we interact with people.”
Mantia’s son, Shepherd, struggled with mental health challenges and committed suicide in 2015, three days before he turned 17.
Shepherd Mantia committed suicide 3 days before his 17th birthday. (Courtesy: Angela Mantia)
“In his suicide letter that he left, he wrote on there that he was really sorry and that it was no one’s fault,” she said.
Mantia says through Shepherd’s journey, she’s learned when trying to help someone around you suffering from a mental illness, the conversation needs to be about them.
“When people ask me what advice do you give people who suffer from a mental illness, I say I don’t have advice for them,” she said. “I don’t know how they feel. I have advice for everybody else around them. And that’s to understand them.”
Mantia now honors Shepherd’s life by helping other families through the bereavement and grieving process.
Too often, we try to hide and shy away from talking about mental health, because of embarrassment or shame, Blanton said. That’s how it used to be for her.
“I used to hide my prescription and Advil bottle because I didn’t want anybody to know,” Blanton said. “I didn’t tell my family. I didn’t tell my friends. I certainly didn’t tell people I worked with.”
But she learned over time, talking to others about mental well-being is what provides comfort. It’s what helps people realize they aren’t alone.
“I want people to talk about mental illness like they talk about cancer,” she said.
Monday night, the foundation will host an event at The Mohawk for “Hi, How Are You” Day. Proceeds will benefit the foundation and the SIMS Foundation, which provides mental health services for people in the Austin music industry.
S P E C T R U M N E W S A U S T I N
MUSICIAN BEHIND ICONIC AUSTIN MURAL INSPIRES FIRST 'HI, HOW ARE YOU?' DAY
By Reena Diamante | January 21, 2018 @7:43 PM
AUSTIN, Texas -- There’s a friendly frog famous for saying a simple sentence. The iconic image is located at the intersection of 21st and Guadalupe Streets.
“It’s kind of become the unofficially ambassador of friendliness in Austin, Texas and so many people come here and they take their picture in front of the frog,” said Tom Gimbel, the general manager of Austin City Limits.
Singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston painted the mural 25 years ago. Gimbel said he is an inspirtation to many, and not just for music.
“Daniel Johnston has dealt with manic depression and schizophrenia for the last three decades pretty much his entire career," Gimbel said. "It’s been something that he’s dealt with, but it is also something that he has triumphed over.”
Inspired by Johnston's life and art, Gimbel and Courtney Blanton founded the "Hi, How Are You?" Foundation. The foundation promotes togetherness and education around mental well-being.
“The idea is just to get comfortable with just talking to each other again, let's talk to each other, let's get it out, let's find out whats going on," Blanton said. "For us, we want mental health issues to be talked about like cancer.”
Monday, Jan. 22 marks Johnston’s 57th birthday and the first ever "Hi, How Are You?" Day in Austin, encouraging people to check in on their neighbors, friends, family members and co-workers.
“Someone will say I’m fine, and maybe they’re not fine, that’s just a very superficial kind of greeting," Gimbel said. "What we want people to do on January 22 on "Hi, How Are You?" Day is to really ask.”
For many dealing with mental illness, there is still so much stigma in society.
“We don’t want people to be ashamed, we don’t want people to be afraid," Gimbel said. "We want people to know that this is something that so many deal with.”
Ultimately, they believe it is something people who are struggling can overcome, it just starts with a conversation.
Mayor Steve Adler will officially name Jan. 22 “Hi, How Are You?” Day. To celebrate the proclamation, the city will host a night of music and art celebrating mental wellness. The event kicks off at 8 p.m. at the Mohawk on Red River Street.
For more information and tickets, visit hihowareyou.org.
S P E C T R U M N E W S A U S T I N
AUSTIN DECLARES JAN. 22 ‘HI, HOW ARE YOU’ DAY
By Claire Ricke | January 19, 2018 @11:47 AM
AUSTIN, Texas – In an effort to celebrate mental wellness, Austin Mayor Steve Adler has declared Jan. 22 “Hi, How Are You” Day.
The iconic piece of Austin street art serves a purpose beyond a tourist attraction. Located at the corner of Guadalupe and 21st Street, “Hi, How Are You” was painted by singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston, who has dealt with his own mental health issues.
Co-founders Courtney Blanton and Tom Gimbel created the “Hi, How Are You” Foundation based on the art piece to promote mental well-being and educate communities on mental health issues. Their goal is to spark a conversation and help those suffering in silence find someone to talk to.
“However people are, whatever they are dealing with, you could be the turning point in that moment. Sometimes people just need to be heard,” states the foundation’s website.
On Jan. 22, Austinites are encouraged to check on a friend, neighbor, or family member and say “Hi, How Are You?” The day was picked to honor Johnston, whose birthday is Jan. 22.
Then at 8 p.m., a night of music and art will kick off at The Mohawk with performances by Moving Panoramas, Kathy McCarty, Cowboy Diplomacy, Jane Ellen Bryant, Will Courtney, Josh T. Pierson & Jonathan Terrell and a special guest.