Filling the streets: ABQ Artwalk in Downtown continues to showcase NM artists, businesses - Albuquerque Journal

Filling the streets: ABQ Artwalk in Downtown continues to showcase NM artists, businesses

The artists at Working Classroom will present the exhibit, “Currents,” at B Ruppe Drugstore. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Cultivating a community event takes time.

In the case of ABQ Artwalk, it has taken thousands of hours to get the monthly event off the ground.

Crowds for May and June kept the streets of Downtown Albuquerque busy on a single Friday night each month.

On Friday, July 9, those streets will again fill with visitors, artisans and performers.

ArtWalk offers visitors an array of exhibit and performances throughout the Downtown area, primarily around Central Avenue. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

“Artwalk is a collective of artists and we found ourselves in the position where we were asked to do multiple events in a month,” says Gabriel Gallegos, ABQ Artwalk program manager. “We had partnerships with businesses in Downtown, and we thought let’s do it.”

The first Artwalk was held about three years ago, though the organization has been staging events since 2015.

Gallegos says there are events such as this one in places ranging from Los Angeles to Fayetteville, Arkansas. But what makes ABQ Artwalk unique is having local artists and performers participating in the event.

“There are three elements to ABQ Artwalk,” Gallegos says. “The art placement. It’s important that we create art. Then there are art exhibits, music and performance. In the past couple of months, we’ve had anywhere from 80-100 artists participate in this.”

While the event has been growing over the years, Gallegos says there’s always a space problem.

“We don’t have the funding to make it any bigger,” he says. “Every aspect of what we do costs money. We do have sponsors that help with that. Our first goal is making sure people are safe and able to have a good time. Shutting down portions of Central Avenue costs money during the time we have the event.”

The event is currently located on Central from Second Street down to Sixth, and then north to Civic Plaza and south to Hazeldine in Barelas.

Gallegos says there is a waiting list for artists and performers that runs about 50 deep.

“At the same time, we encourage buskers and stuff,” he says. ‘It’s about creating art-making at the neighborhood level. And focusing on the culture of New Mexico, which is so rich in the arts.”

At this week’s event, Working Classroom will also have a group show “Currents” at B. Ruppe Drugs on Fourth Street. According to organizers, the exhibit will feature past, current and future art work from staff, teaching artists, alumni, students and board members.

“Like the river that connects us all through time and place, so does our community of artists,” says officials at Working Classroom.

Gallegos says this will be the first event since the restrictions on public gatherings across the state was lifted on July 1.

He says that, for the previous two events, patrons were outside because there were limits on indoor gatherings.

“We put everything out on the street and it came with its own set of rules,” he says. “This one, we’re going to let the galleries and local businesses set how comfortable with everything they are going to be.”

The event was also pushed back to Friday, July 9, from its original first Friday date due to the Fourth of July holiday.

Gallegos says the goal of the monthly event is to stimulate foot traffic in the Downtown area.

“Albuquerque is the heart of New Mexico,” he says. “Downtown is the heart of Albuquerque. We want to collaborate with other parts of town and bring them to this area. It’s about cross-promoting business and art.”

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