In fact, Albuquerque has more than 820 pieces of public art and about a third of those are outdoors, which are subject to the unpredictable weather conditions. To combat this, Albuquerque has a Public Art Program which is dedicated to maintaining and restoring public art.
Dan Fuller, the Public Art Collection coordinator for Albuquerque, said the way the city goes about deciding which public arts need restoration and or maintenance is decided by several different factors.
“We have a regular, on-going maintenance program. Some are regularly scheduled, some are maintained/conserved as the need arises,” he said. “Most works are checked (site visit) on a monthly basis and reports are sent to me here at the Public Art offices. The work load is distributed based on availability of the contractors who work with us. Sometimes regular staff will take care of the smaller problems, and all maintenance issues are balanced against available funding for the work.”
Albuquerque Public Art Manager Sherri Brueggemann said the way the city chooses which public arts are maintained also depends on what the art’s medium is.
“If it’s a bronze sculpture, we have a system where every two years or 18 months we come out and wash them and wax them,” she said. “A lot of the times we rely on citizens to call us and let us know if something is wrong, especially if it’s stickers or a tagging.”
The city also keeps a database to help determine when a piece of public art is up for restoration, Brueggemann said.
“We have a very complete database and we keep track of how often we come out to wax and clean the bronze sculptures,” she said. “Or repair the grout and ceramic tile murals and all kinds of other things that involved painting and cleaning to keep the artwork looking good.”
Local artist Sonny Rivera, who has 15 pieces of public art in Albuquerque, said the city had done a good job of taking care of his artwork.
“I think they’ve done a fantastic job,” he said. “They maintain the grounds, they clean them up. If it’s got landscaping they fix the landscaping. They maintain it really well.”
Brueggemann said the city is developing two new databases, one of which will be just for the art collection of Albuquerque and the other for maintenance of the city’s buildings.
“We’re going to be tapping into both of those databases and making sure that they’ll talk to each other,” she said. “The timing is great for us to take on the two new digital systems that will help us out.”
Thomas Romero-Salas, Liam Cary-Eaves and Aaron Anglin is the sports editor, assistant sports editor and staff photographer, respectively, for the Daily Lobo. Cary-Eaves, Romero-Salas and Anglin wrote this story through UNM’s New Mexico News Port Project.