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Series turns storefronts into art installations

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico artist Tlacael Fuentes created a four-panel window installation for Taos Mesa Brewing Taproom as part of the “Windows on the Future” series. (Courtesy of Tlacael Fuentes)

Various storefronts in Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque are getting a makeover for the month of July.

The change in scenery is part of “Windows on the Future,” a monthlong storefront art installation series.

It is the result of a collaboration among Vital Space, 516 Arts and The Paseo Project.

According to organizers, “Windows on the Future” turns storefront and commercial windows into art installations.

“The community is invited to walk and drive by to see them from the sidewalk and street, working with temporarily closed spaces, as well as active and vacant storefronts,” organizers say. “The collaborative effort aims to bring vibrancy and vitality to northern New Mexico’s commercial districts in these challenging times, while also encouraging social distancing.”

At Taos Mesa Brewing Taproom in Taos, Tlacael Fuentes wrapped up his papel picado – or cut paper – piece in the window.

In early May, the organizations announced an open call to artists, creatives and art groups to submit proposals for window showcase installations.

The theme was open to creative interpretation and after a jury process to review the 300 submissions, 60 artists were selected – 20 per city.

The winning installations take on a variety of topics and styles, from the realistic to the fantastic. Proposals include two- and three-dimensional works, as well as video and projection, and performance art pieces. A digital map is being prepared to lead viewers on a guided tour of these creative installations.

Fuentes was one of 60 artists chosen for a window art installation around northern New Mexico and Albuquerque.

The collaborating organizations gave a $500 stipend to each artist.

Fuentes wanted his window to reflect how the traditional papel picado has evolved in a contemporary style.

Tlacael Fuentes used Mayan influences to create some of the pieces in his window installation. (Courtesy of Tlacael Fuentes)

“My hope is that people will be drawn to the window display because they recognize the papel picado tradition, but will find that it reflects our society today,” he says. “At age 62, I have been cutting paper, as my primary medium, since I was 5 years old, and have never stopped.”

He used the entire window space. Because it is papel picado, the light shines inside the building, causing visitors to look through the artwork.

“Ultimately, my goal is that the work will have such an impact that people will go out of their way to approach the work and look at it in detail,” he says.

Fuentes’ piece features Mayan faces on each side – two looking inward, the other two looking outward.

In the middle is a white girl holding a bouquet of flowers. On the other side of her is a Black girl, also holding flowers.

“The message here is we are worrying about taking down bronze sculptures,” Fuentes says. “But there are still kids in cages and no one is worried about it. There is a homeless problem. Our air is polluted. This piece shows that we can offer equity and inclusion.”

Prior to beginning, Fuentes was going to go in a different direction, but didn’t want to create controversy.

Instead, he wanted a piece that showcases how we can teach our children about inclusion and equity.

“As a society, we teach young kids to dislike others for being different,” he says. “But we can change things at a molecular level. We can teach kids about love and inclusion. When that happens, they can carry those lessons with them all their lives.”

Fuentes will also install pieces at the Michael Gorman Gallery and the 107B Gallery in Taos.

“I wanted to get out of the city and be in a space that inspires me,” Fuentes says. “Taos was that place and it’s made my cutting paper for four days straight worth it.”

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