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.”
Hakim Bellamy is one with art.
As a poet, he created it with words and phrases.
As the deputy director of the city of Albuquerque’s Arts and Culture Department, he’s inspired by the pieces of public art he sees around the Duke City.
Over the course 43 years, the city’s Public Art Program has acquired more than 1,000 pieces for the public to enjoy. The program has also seen $20 million allocated for art and is one of the oldest public arts programs.
Bellamy is able to see a vast array of art on a daily basis. He picked a handful of pieces he’s sharing with the public in the Downtown area.
“(I) picked the ones I have good stories about, rather than the ones that are my favorites,” Bellamy says. “Because every good story … at least the ones good enough to get shared … are public art, right?”
1. “RELEGATION” by Lance Ryan McGoldrick, a temporary art installation at the Rail Yards Market.
Bellamy says there’s something about the ephemeral.
“This piece is like a mirage or a chimera when you walk up upon it,” he says. “The first time I saw it, I rubbed my eyes, as if to say ‘that can’t be right?’ It’s lit (as the kids say), from within like the suitcase in ‘Pulp Fiction.’ It makes you curious as to where the light is coming from so you are drawn to look in, and then … a wild garden, inside the shed instead of outside. The sun is also in the shed … with the garden. Yeah, it’s fresh. It’s an inversion of reality and our expectations. It is immersive and experiential. And I had the chance to meet Lance a few times; he’s a cool dude.”
2. “PIÑATA PIANO” by Adrian Martin is located in Downtown Albuquerque at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Bellamy says he has a sentimental attachment to the piece of playable public art.
He shared an image of his son playing the piano about three years ago.
“I also played piano growing up, and his skills are a mix of lessons he used to take back then and playing the piano I grew up on back in South Jersey at my parent’s house,” he says. “Yup, all the feels.”
3. “SOUTHWEST VERNACULAR III” by Kenny Davis is located in the Mayor’s Office on the 11th floor.
It’s a lithograph that was acquired in 2014.
Bellamy posted about the piece about three months ago on Instagram saying, “This piece never gets old. I don’t always park beneath City Hall … but when I do …”
“I love this piece,” he says. “… There are others like me who like food, who like Albuquerque … and who like Albuquerque food! Kenny Davis (@kennydavisprojects) even chimed in on the ‘feed.’ It’s like a 2D menu of 3D menus.”
4. “MERGE” by Ramon Garcia is located at 400 Marquette NW inside the city/county government building on the seventh floor.
The metal work was installed in 2009.
Bellamy frequently walks by the piece due to his work at City Hall.
“It takes me back to my cultural roots in my hometown of Philadelphia and early types of graffiti art,” he says. “Feels very wildstyle-influenced, which reminds me of long drives and train rides back home. It’s super cool that the artist, Ramon Garcia, had to be young at the time, because it was a Metro Youth Award purchase. And the fact that the material looks much less ‘flexible’ than aerosol is also impressive.”
5. “JOLLY RODGERS” by Ben Hazard is located at 401 Second St. NW inside the Albuquerque Convention Center West Complex stairwell wall.
The piece was installed in 2014 and is a relief – which is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material.
Bellamy says Hazard died in 2019. He had the chance to work with Hazard when Bellamy was still at the state working for the New Mexico State Office of African American Affairs (OAAA).
“That was over 10 years ago, when ‘the Office’ (as the OAAA is sometimes referred to as in the community) worked with the city to commission the Buffalo Soldier sculpture at New Mexico Veterans Memorial Park,” he says. “It was honor to work with him then on that project, to get the likeness of Black soldiers represented in the telling of our New Mexico history. He was always kind to me.”
Bellamy says the piece is more impressionist, a departure from the representational sculpture work Hazard was known for.
“I’ve always thought this piece of his reminded me more of a Jolly Rancher (in color, shape and sheen) rather than the pirate flag (Jolly Rogers),” he says. “But hey, sugar will kill ya! Some say the origin of the phrase Jolly Roger was the French joli rouge, because the skull and cross bones of pirate flags originally came in red not black. I can dig it.”