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Art group sets up shop at outlet mall

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The shopping experience at the Fashion Outlets of Santa Fe mall is about to get a whole lot snazzier.

The nonprofit art group Vital Spaces is moving into an empty storefront to bring art to the outlet mall on the city’s Southside.

Vital Spaces’ three-year lease agreement begins Thursday, and the nonprofit anticipates artists will begin moving into the storefront by the end of the month, co-director Hannah Yohalem said.

During COVID-19, there will be artwork hanging in windows, and the nonprofit may try to organize some sort of socially-distanced displays outside as well, Yohalem said. She said the folks they’ve been in touch with at the outlets have expressed excitement about having art throughout the outlets.

“Our model is based on using under-utilized real estate,” she said. “So temporary vacancies, buildings awaiting redevelopment, and through filling that interim period with activation and getting it to space star artists who might not otherwise be able to afford space in Santa Fe.”

Vital Spaces was approached by the mall’s management company, Colliers International, and the management group is offering the nonprofit the space at below market value.

“We recognize that this property has such an ability to become something truly for the community,” said property manager Neda Talebreza. “We want that vibrancy and we want a vision that is inclusive of arts, of music, of different kinds of food and culture.”

Having a space for that type of creativity is important for artists, Talebreza said. She said the mall has space available and she hopes this is a cornerstone for growing this type of vision.

The nonprofit is also excited to be on the Southside of town so they can serve populations across the whole city. The nonprofit has two other locations in downtown and Midtown Santa Fe.

The nonprofit’s goal is to serve artists who are traditionally underrepresented in the commercial art scene in Santa Fe, and who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in town.