Editor’s note:The fourth Sunday of each month, Journal Arts Editor Adrian Gomez tells the stories behind some of the hidden gems you can see across the state in “Gimme Five.”
Inside Bernalillo County @ Alvarado Square’s 282,000 square-feet, there’s a glimpse of New Mexico’s artistic history.
The county’s new administrative headquarters, located at 415 Silver SW, opened to the public on Aug. 16.
Kent Swanson, Bernalillo County’s Public Art Project coordinator, says the county’s public art collection has been on the move to the new building since April.
“Nearly a hundred pieces of the county’s public art collection were relocated from their former homes to the new building, along with newly purchased works and are now available to view in the new building,” he says.
With the public able to see the works, Swanson picked five pieces of art located at the new space. The pieces represent established and emerging artists.
“It’s a wonderful space to showcase the diversity and talents of our local artists,” he says of the building. “Taking the glass elevator to the eighth floor allows visitors to get a view of not only the cityscape, but also the variety of artwork from the county’s public art collection that can be found in the elevator lobbies of each floor.”
Anyone entering BernCo @ Alvarado Square is required to wear a mask and social distancing is encouraged. The building is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
1. Noé Barnett’s “Give Life” is located on the first floor across from the customer service desk. The oil, aerosol, charcoal and glass microbeads piece is a 2020 acquisition, purchased from the county’s “Unsolicited Proposals” process.
“This vibrant work can also be seen from Silver Avenue when walking on the north side of the street between Fourth Street and Fifth Street,” Swanson says.
Barnett created the work because “Light represents truth. Light is exposure, light is understanding, light is creative force, light is life, light is divine,” he says. “Each painting includes the visible light spectrum which represents both, all of the possibilities, color and creative freedom that is available inside light and truth.”
2. “El Muertografo” by Oscar Lozoya is located on the first floor near the entrance to the Ken Sanchez County Commission chambers.
“A former Bernalillo County Arts Board member, Lozoya passed away in 2019 after a short battle with cancer,” Swanson says. “The Bernalillo County Arts Board voted to approve the purchase of three of his works to honor his memory, including ‘El Muertografo,’ which is a self-portrait celebrating the Mexican tradition of Día de Los Muertos.”
3. “The Garden Lady” by Beverly Magennis is a tile mosaic located in the second-floor hallway spanning Silver between Fourth and Fifth streets.
The piece was acquired by Bernalillo County Public Art in 2007 and was originally located in the county assessor’s office.
Magennis moved to New Mexico in the mid-1970s, where she has been recognized for her large-scale mosaic and sculptural work.
“Part of Beverly Magennis’ work includes the transformation of her home into the stunning ‘Tile House,’ which is included in the Cultural Registry of the City of Albuquerque as well as the ‘Tree of Life’ (located on Fourth Street and Montaño), the impressive ‘Dome Lady’ as well as Alvarado Square’s ‘Garden Lady,’ ” Swanson says.
4. Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s “The American Landscape” is a 2008 lithograph located in the eighth-floor elevator lobby.
“(It was) acquired in 2010 by the Bernalillo County Public Art Program,” Swanson says. “Jaune Quick-to-See Smith is one of the most celebrated native artists working today. She is an enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation, Montana.”
She graduated with an MA in Visual Arts from the University of New Mexico in 1980, Swanson continued.
5. “Mariah Duran-Ollie” by photographer Jeremiah Arias is located in the fifth-floor elevator lobby.
Swanson says Albuquerque is home to Mariah Duran, the top-ranked female street skateboarder in the United States.
After making history by competing in the Tokyo Olympics for Team USA, her skateboarding talent can now be viewed by visitors to the new Bernalillo County @ Alvarado Square building.
“Jeremiah Arias’ photograph captures Mariah Duran doing what she loves,” Swanson says. “With a skillful eye and a passion for skateboarding, Jeremiah Arias’ work showcases skateboarders from around the world in action and we are thrilled to offer visitors a glimpse into this new Olympic sport.”
Swanson says as part of the building’s design, each elevator lobby at Bernalillo County @ Alvarado Square features an original photograph by a local photographer reproduced at a large scale in black and white. Photographs for the elevator lobby areas were selected through an open competition and in addition to Arias’ work include photographs by Jan Bartelstone, Brandon Barela, Jose Armas, Jessica Roybal, Julian Trinidad Gardea, Melinda Martinez, James Grayford and Gary Rivera.
The county also purchased an original color print of each photograph for the 1% for the Arts permanent collection.