To ‘beautify, unify and showcase’

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Over the next 10 days, Downtown Albuquerque will be getting a pop of color.

More than 30 artists will be at 11 spots publicly expressing their creativity as part of the 508 Mural Fest.

“We felt the need to do something big,” said Jay Spang, Warehouse 508 executive director. “We wanted to get artists and businesses together to showcase the good in Downtown.”

The nonprofit Warehouse 508 was established nine years ago as 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.

Natalie Voelker paints her mural on a building at Lead and Broadway SE. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

For nearly a year, staffers at Warehouse 508 worked diligently on the logistics for the mural project. The first mural – at Broadway and Lead SW – is already complete.

Thomas Christopher Haag was the lead artist on that mural, a painted snake on a 100-foot by 8-foot wall that leads visitors into Downtown Albuquerque.

Other mural sites include the Amy Biehl High School parking lot, Tractor Brewing Co., Sidetrack Brewing Co., q-Staff Theatre, Valliant Printing, Relic Alley, Sister Bar and Van Buren Middle School.

The 508 Mural Fest project is privately funded by Maddox & Co. Realtors, and many community sponsors have stepped in to donate paint and other materials.

Spang said all the artists will be paid for the work on the murals.

Bird-noise, an Albuquerque-based artist, paints a bird on a sidewalk as part of the 508 Mural Fest. The event includes the painting of 11 murals in Downtown Albuquerque. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

“When the murals are finished, I would encourage all of Albuquerque to come Downtown to see,” Spang said. “We’re going to start a walking tour to see all of the completed murals. The finished pieces will beautify, unify and showcase the area.”

Spang said 508 Mural Fest will offer activities for the entire family, with opportunities for community members to participate in art installation pieces at several mural sites by visiting

In working with the artists, Spang wanted to cultivate a creative workspace for each mural.

“We wanted each artist to have free rein,” he said. “The only requirement we placed on each mural is that it has to be uplifting. Each space will be an area that can inspire visitors to the area.”

Albuquerque artist Christian Michael Gallegos began work Tuesday on the parking lot at Amy Biehl High School.

“I loved the location of Amy Biehl High School,” Gallegos said. “I’ll be able to challenge myself with the mural. I’ve had different versions already drawn, and I came up with something different this morning that I like better.

“I want the process to just flow and let the art be inspired by the space.”

In addition to the murals, a few events are planned featuring music and art.

The active part of the mural fest will end on Sept. 23 during the Somos ABQ block party scheduled on Central between Third and Seventh NW.

But the murals will remain a part of Downtown long after.

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