SANTA FE, N.M. — For those who think of Santa Fe first when it comes to New Mexico art, “On the Map: Unfolding Albuquerque Art and Design” aims to introduce visitors to an avalanche in Albuquerque.
The expansive collaboration includes more than 20 galleries, institutions and museums.
“Our point is to highlight the wealth of quality work and rich history of Albuquerque art,” said 516 ARTS director and “On the Map” organizer Suzanne Sbarge.
For a city that has never defined itself through the arts, the scope and variety is startling. The wine industry, wool processing, transportation, the University of New Mexico, health care and the military-industrial complex have long overshadowed the arts.
But they also created a haven for creative expression through cutting edge technology and transportation access. Artists could find both jobs and cheap rents. Ironically, the limited local market created artists who were rarely tempted to cater to the commercial market.
Once dismissed when compared to its long-established art colonies to the north, Albuquerque is a nexus of innovation and creativity, Sbarge said.
“I think that’s changing now that people see (art) as a resource of economic development,” she explained. “We wanted to show the thriving contemporary art scene here.”
516 ARTS is presenting “From the Ground Up: Design Here and Now” as its part of the citywide celebration. The exhibition will showcase contemporary work by both established and emerging Albuquerque area designers and architects. The work demonstrates shared interests in innovation, experience, material, form and function.
“They’re all entrepreneurs in some ways,” Sbarge said.
Visitors will see interactive installations, furniture, lamps and more, focusing on the art in architecture. The work will include digital films in an immersive environment and cartographies mapping the architecture of mind and memory.
Two-dimensional imagery nested in suspended cubes offers visitors an unconventional journey through the city’s design talent, while charcoal and mixed-media renderings portray the sensual and intuitive side of contemporary architecture.
Well-designed objects have the potential to change the way we see the world, Sbarge said.
The exhibition will include an expanded gift shop upstairs with an array of unique functional design items for sale, including jewelry, lamps, tote bags, clocks and more. A series of opening events and public programs will feature a private preview with the curators, dance by choreographer Lisa Nevada and a one-night “pop up” installation exploring space by architect Bruce Warren Davis.
Visitors can also take an architecture and design studio tour, attend a collage workshop and see a designer’s trunk show.