The first mural sponsored by Warehouse 508 is located on the corner of Lead and Broadway. It was painted by Thomas Christopher Haag, with assistance from Warehouse 508 youth and volunteer community members. It is a 100-foot by 8-foot wall that greets people to Downtown.
Two New York entrepreneurs who visited Albuquerque’s startup community a few weeks ago via Mayor Richard Berry’s National Marketing Campaign had a lot of compliments for the city by the time they left. But one of the things that surprised and delighted them the most was the look of Downtown. They weren’t talking about the buildings per se; they loved the art that is on them.
Creative cities tend to attract creative, innovative people. Their visit provided anecdotal proof that Albuquerque’s artsy side is an asset when it comes to perceptions of the city by non-residents.
From murals to mosaics to fractal art, they said, Downtown Albuquerque is stunning. “We don’t have anything like this,” said Jennifer Appawu, co-founder with Shyno Mathew of qLogix Entertainment, which has created a STEM-based video game for young children.
“I can’t believe all the art. It’s everywhere. I didn’t expect this,” Mathew said.
In fact, the women are considering a return visit in September, when, coincidentally, Downtown Albuquerque will be getting 20 new murals designed and painted by 30 artists at 11 locations.
Warehouse 508 is producing the free Mural Fest from September 12-23. It launches at noon September 12 with an opening ceremony at 320 Broadway SE, where more than 10 artists will begin wrapping a warehouse in color.
For a map, the full schedule, how to participate and more details, visit http://508muralfest.com/. Events will be held throughout the painting process with two block parties, concerts, theater, walking and bike tours, and a whole lotta good food.
JP Eaglin, director of development at Warehouse 508, says he decided to create the event for a couple of reasons:
“I’d been on production teams of several other festivals – in New York (ironically) and Puerto Rico – and I realize the great affect public art has on a community,” he said. “Everyone wants to live in a beautiful vibrant environment, and murals add to the attraction of a progressive and forward-thinking city.”
Eaglin also wanted to draw attention to Warehouse 508, a nonprofit youth program that specializes in the arts and extreme sports (recreational activities that don’t use balls) for ages 11-20 and mentoring opportunities for young adults up to age 24.
Warehouse 508 youth are helping with Mural Fest, and the entire community is encouraged to do so as well. “It’s a very organic process,” Eaglin said, “because once people see the artists painting, everyone comes out and they want to join in on the fun. Some muralists have wide brush strokes which allows for anyone to fill them in. There will also be arts and crafts for the whole family to enjoy.
“We set the foundation for this, but the community is really the one that drives the magic of it all.”
All artists are local except for one. Bik Ismo, named one of the best street artists in the world by Juxtapoz magazine, is an international artist whose name is becoming as well known as Banksy.
The only guidelines for the artists are that the images be uplifting, positive and likely to put a smile on someone’s face.
“I want to give them as much free reign as possible to share their light with the community,” Eaglin said.
About Warehouse 508: Albuquerque’s Downtown Youth Art and Entertainment Center allows for youth immersion in the Creative Arts. Warehouse 508 is a venue for creativity, a lab, an incubator of possibilities, and a safe, structured environment where young people have the opportunity to explore the world through the arts. Warehouse 508 is operated by New Mexico Xtreme Sports Association (NMX); together we provide urban arts and extreme sports programs for young people ages 11-20. Our mission is to offer youth a safe space for creative expression.