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Art aloft: Balloon Museum’s online benefit exhibition features 25 works

“Land of Enchantment” oil on canvas by Amy Baca Lopez. (Courtesy of the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum)

Amy Baca Lopez calls herself a “creative warrior.”

Works by the Albuquerque-born and -bred artist known for her vibrant color scapes are displayed in the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum’s inaugural fine art exhibition, available online at balloonexhibition.com through Jan. 31. All the works are for sale, with the proceeds benefiting the Balloon Museum Foundation and the artists.

The exhibition honors the pandemic-postponed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, normally the museum’s prime fundraising event.

Baca Lopez is a determined optimist, despite the cancellation of many of her markets.

“I try to fight for happiness,” she said, “just spreading the joy and having something happy to look at on your walls.”

A University of New Mexico alum in both creative writing and art, she has supported herself through her art since 2008. Before that, she worked as a graphic artist. Today she sells prints and greeting cards as well as her original works, normally at farmers markets and craft shows.

Her “Land of Enchantment” oil painting of a cluster of balloons soaring across the New Mexico sky in swirls of purple, pink and blue grew from what she called an “epic sunset.”

“There was all sorts of color,” she said. “This is how I see the skies and celebrate them here in New Mexico.

“Everybody knows me for my color. I’m just not afraid of it. I think it’s because I’m from here. I see it in the mountains, in the skies and the trees.”

When she was just 10 years old, she would make mixtapes and decorate the covers with images of the artists or “just a bunch of paper clips and make a design.”

She once wallpapered her bedroom with black and white comic strips. When she’d go to the movies and watched the titles scroll by at the end, she’d identify with the oddly-named jobs such as best boy and gaffer.

“I knew I’d have an interesting job title,” she said.

A seven-year stint in San Diego left her homesick for New Mexico.

“It was lovely to be there,” she said . “But I missed the wide-open skies and the sunsets.”

Today Baca Lopez keeps a coffee can at her local market booths to save money for her second love – travel.

“My goal is, like, to put $100 a week in a coffee can,” she said. “Pretty soon you have enough to buy a plane ticket.”

Two years ago, she was mesmerized by Moroccan leather workers. She’s been to Greece, Turkey and Mexico City. Earlier this year, she flew to Cuba.

“It’s all about art and culture to me,” Baca Lopez said. “I’m sitting at my art table right now working on a new painting. All my work is about bringing something positive to the world. My aim is just to make something beautiful.”

A jury of artists and museum leaders selected a group of 25 paintings in acrylic, oil, watercolor and pastels featuring hot air balloons. The featured international artists include Barbara McGuir, Nicholas Tesluk, Doug Miller, Paula Heffner, Marilyn Wightman, Steven Pierce, Victoria Mauldin, Woody Duncan, Ruth Vreeland, Marie Siegrist, Lesley Pritchard, Carla Forest, Joy Brinkley-Hill, Bradley Gard, Betsy Pierce, Tricia George and Gloria Grace Blinn.

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