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Auction: Spirit of Daniel Johnston honored in new 'Hi, How Are You' NFT

The spirit of Austin legend and acclaimed singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston is alive and well as the late artist's family and the Daniel Johnston Estate auction a brand-new, never-before-seen and unconventional piece.

Titled "Daniel Johnston is Alive Somewhere," the piece was released on the auction site foundation app on Friday at 2 p.m. It will be available for 24 hours on auction as a nonfungible token, also known as an NFT.

NFTs are tokens that represent unique digital items, like artwork, video, audio and other forms of creative work. At 4 p.m., the piece was bidding at just over $3,000.

Though on a different medium than Johnston's traditional works, the whimsical piece features six of Johnston's signature "friendly frogs"—the very same that adorn Guadalupe Street and 21st Street—over a keyboard excerpt from Johnston's song "Fly Eye," from his 1985 release "Continued Story." The happy multi-colored frogs blink individually while responding "Fine thank you," to the evocative question, "Hi, How are You?" which shares the name of the artist's 1983 album.

This is the first of several pieces of art that the estate plans to auction.

Johnston passed away in Waller, Texas, where he lived next door to his parents, in 2019. The art piece, an authentic drawing by the celebrated artist, was discovered shortly after his death and became the foundation of the final product. Fittingly, Johnston was famous for merging visual art with his music.

Dick Johnston, the artist's brother, said it was important to Johnston that people were able to enjoy his creations and he was always open to embracing new technology, despite his internet-free lifestyle.

The Johnston Estate also launched a new website, which will sell drawings and post galleries. Known for his childlike qualities, many of the pieces in his array of works are drawn with colored markers and pens.

Honoring a spirit so widely celebrated in Austin, The Contemporary Austin Jones Center will host "Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams," an exhibit that intertwines his visual art and music. The exhibit will run from Sept. 11—the two-year anniversary of his death—through May 20, 2022.


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