This is a Test
Instead of presenting a conclusive evaluation, On the Map offers an expansive and multifaceted view of art in Albuquerque. By unfolding rather than defining local artistic practice, it embraces eclecticism and encourages discovery. The map is an apt metaphor for this kind of approach. It provides a guiding framework but allows us to explore and to formulate our own interpretations. The project also underscores certain characteristics integral to Albuquerque that make for a dynamic arts community: expressive freedom, a collaborative spirit, and organizations that support diversity and inclusiveness.
The initial idea for a multi-site collaboration struck Andrew Connors, Curator of Art at the Albuquerque Museum, after he curated a show of local contemporary artists and realized that Albuquerque had not been seriously examined as a center of art making. Once other local organizations became interested in the idea, the project began to take shape.
“I initially responded to the open call for partners from the Albuquerque Museum,” says Suzanne Sbarge, director of 516 ARTS. “I was looking forward to being a partner without leading the project, since leading collaborations has often been my role. But I soon joined the Organizing Committee and got very invested in making the project a success. … What appeals to me about On the Map is its expansiveness and the wonderful boost it is giving to the Albuquerque art scene.”
In the end, over twenty arts organizations jumped on board, including the Harwood Art Center, the South Broadway Cultural Center, and OFFCenter Community Arts Project. “One of the great things about having so many diverse organizations collaborating together is to wind up with a multivalent perspective,” says Connors. “The curator from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Deborah Jojola, looked at art making in Albuquerque from a very different perspective than Tey Marianna Nunn at the National Hispanic Cultural Center did, than several professors at the UNM Art Museum did, than Joe Traugott, [curator of Visualizing Albuquerque] did. … I think that having those multiple voices is the best way to represent Albuquerque because Albuquerque has always had multiple voices.”
This multiplicity has also shaped our creative community. Albuquerque has never been celebrated as a city rooted in tradition, notes Connors – an observation also made by Traugott and by William Peterson in his discussion of local art on occasion of On the Map – so artists (and arts venues) have had the freedom to do what they want to do rather than conforming to stylistic or conceptual expectations. At the same time, because of this openness, Albuquerque never developed a cohesive, neatly definable art scene – and thus is not generally recognized as an art center proper. “One of the frustrating things about Albuquerque is that I know there are so many good [artists] here, but the rest of the world doesn’t,” laments painter and textile artist Maude Andrade. “And we’re all also kind of hidden in our little corners and we [stay within] certain circles.”