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The beat meets the street: Artist ‘sees’ sounds of Barelas residents’ playlists to create pavement painting on Fourth

Editor’s note: Venue Plus continues “In Case You Didn’t Know,” a weekly feature with fun tidbits about New Mexicans and their projects.

The intersection of Fourth and Hazeldine SW was blocked for a few days in late April in the heart of Barelas.

There was road construction – but not what New Mexico drivers are used to seeing. Instead of asphalt being put in, it was a group of artists adding a pop of color to “Sunset Mix.”

Reyes Padilla worked with Artful Life, Albuquerque Vision Zero, and The Barelas Community Coalition to create the street art “Sunset Mix.” (Courtesy of Hans Brimmer)

Albuquerque’s first road artwork is the product of artist Reyes Padilla.

For six months, the native Santa Fean worked with The Barelas Youth Team, Artful Life, Albuquerque Vision Zero and The Barelas Community Coalition.

“I designed it on my iPad and integrated all the youth artists designs in it,” Padilla says. “We were doing Zoom meetings getting all the finalized details together.”

Padilla introduced himself to the group and says he wanted the youth artists to open up to him.

“I showed them what I’m all about and I definitely got a great response,” he says. “I wanted them to integrate their personal histories into this piece of public art.”

Padilla was not only grateful to work with the group, but to have six months to focus on one project.

He says during the process, he learned about traffic control and traffic engineering.

“We created something and it’s being studied for a traffic-calming mural,” he says. “To put something on the ground that won’t interfere with future projects and won’t confuse people was a big task.”

Albuquerque-based artist Reyes Padilla in front of a street painting in Barelas. (Courtesy of Jen Lucero)

Padilla is known for his work with synesthesia, a condition that enables him to see sound.

“I told the group about this and asked them to give me five songs from their pandemic playlist,” he says. “This is how we got the name ‘Sunset Mix.’ I listened to the music, and it all came to life. I’m impressed with the wide range of musical taste from the group. The music I was given was something to make a change. We definitely made our mark with ‘Sunset Mix.’ ”

Padilla says he is proud that the community got involved in the project.

“The teams were going door to door and asking neighbors what kind of art they would like to see,” he says. “There was input from the community, and to have it be the first permanent street mural is pretty cool.”

Padilla says having more down time in the pandemic allowed him to slow down and dissect everything he’s been doing in the last couple years.

“I feel that I can invest more time in the process,” he says. “Art became more personal again. It reinforced my whole purpose in the world.”

Padilla continues to work on his own projects and public arts ones. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about him:

1 “Running is my therapy. I run every other day and am currently training for a half-marathon.”

2 “My earliest inspiration to paint came from the graffiti behind my day care.”

3 “The style of my work comes from having synesthesia, which means I can see sound.”

4 “I never had high grades in school, but in 2019, I received the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award from CNM.”

5 “I collect sneakers for both nostalgic and design appreciation reasons.”

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