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Downtown mural a tribute to Jennifer Riordan’s spirit

Visual artist PAZ sketches a detail on his “In the Garden of Sharing” mural on the east wall of the Albuquerque Community Foundation. The mural was created with the participation of the Jennifer Riordan “Sparkle” Fund and the Albuquerque Community Foundation. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Public art is for the masses to enjoy.

While the purpose is the same for each project, the message of each differs.

In Downtown Albuquerque, on the corner of Sixth and Tijeras NW, a 30-foot mural is nearing the final stages.

It’s located on the east side of a building that houses the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

When complete, “In the Garden of Sharing” will spread Jennifer Riordan’s motto “to be kind, loving, caring and sharing.”

Jennifer Riordan

Riordan, an Albuquerque banking executive, was killed in April 2018 in a bizarre midair accident while aboard a Southwest Airlines flight.

The project will be complete in September after nearly four months of work.

“We had always considered public art to be on the space,” said Joanna Colangelo, community impact director at Albuquerque Community Foundation. “We were searching for the right piece of art that would convey a message of community. Jennifer represents it perfectly.”

Getting the mural off the ground came with effort from the Jennifer Riordan “Sparkle” Fund and the Albuquerque Community Foundation, who are both partnering with Working Classroom and visual artist PAZ to create the first of four major murals across the city.

“Identifying the concept that will make a mural come to life can be the most challenging aspect of the creative process,” said PAZ. “Fortunately, we were gifted with a theme that is simple yet profound: sharing. This project is an excellent example of talented youth and the greater community sharing in the creative process to produce a work of art that is visually stunning and meaningful.”

PAZ developed the concept with input from Michael Riordan and his children, Averie and Josh.

Artist PAZ, left, hands a can of paint to apprentice Evelyn Lefevre as they work on a mural at the Albuquerque Community Foundation last week. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

“The Riordan Family is excited to work with PAZ, students from Working Classroom, and Albuquerque Community Foundation on this mural,” Michael Riordan said in a statement. “The artwork is a beautiful interactive representation of sharing. We look forward to working with other community partners to have a mural in each of Jennifer’s core values to be Kind, Loving, Caring and Sharing spread around the City.”

The concept is based on a natural landscape of fauna, flowers, vines, trees, birds and insects and it represents the idea of sharing resources to create a vibrant ecosystem full of growth, opportunity and connectivity.

Working Classroom, a nonprofit arts organization, managed the project and had high school students as apprentices throughout the summer. The students helped prep the wall, project the design and paint the mural.

“Working Classroom carefully selected an artist who we felt could truly capture the essence of this mural,” said María Gallegos, executive director of Working Classroom. “Through this project, our student apprentices will learn every step of creating a mural of this scale.”

The 30-foot mural “In the Garden of Sharing” takes shape on the east wall of the Albuquerque Community Foundation. The concept is based on a natural landscape of flowers, vines, trees, birds and insects. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Colangelo is proud of how the organizations have worked together on the project.

“This is something that is bigger than any one of us can do alone,” Colangelo said. “The timing was perfect because we wanted to get it done while there were students at Working Classroom and before school started. The bulk of it is done and the finishing touches are going to be beautiful.”

“In the Garden of Sharing” kicks off phase one of four planned murals to be put up across the city.

The goal is for the murals to showcase the goodness and kindness in Albuquerque, while encouraging residents and visitors to explore the city through public art.

Apprentice artists Tarynn Di’nnovati, right, and Alicia Gallegos work on the mural at Sixth and Tijeras on Friday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

As the September deadline draws closer, Colangelo is eager to present the mural to the community.

“I hope that people take away a sense of what community is and the legacy,” Colangelo said. “The idea that we’re all in this together. This represents a sense of community and that is who Jennifer was and what she meant to the community. We should be celebrating Albuquerque and the incredible strength. It’s reflected in the mural.”


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