Thirteen parking spaces in Albuquerque became miniature parks Friday as part of nationally recognized Park(ing) Day.

Park(ing) Day was first celebrated in 2005 by San Francisco art collective Rebar.
According to their Web site, the group came up with the idea of turning a public parking space into a public park as an artistic statement on how space as a public resource is used.

The idea struck a chord with members of the UNM Society of Landscape Architecture Students and students in a Freshman Learning Community class, “Earth Arts: People, Places & Purpose.”

“One of the main ideas behind it was to sort of shift people’s views about the way they think of their current infrastructure,” said SOCLAS member Chance Munns.

“A large percentage of the city is covered in things that are geared towards the vehicle. … This is sort of a way to promote public art in communal space, so it kind of shifts your idea of what a public space really is.”

By Zach Gould
From left: Bruce Milen, Frederico Jumbo and Shelby Spoonhoward sit and talk at the “Velvet Painting” parking space in front of the communication and journalism building on Friday. The Freshman Learning Community class “Earth Arts: People, Places & Purpose” created this and four other spaces around campus to celebrate Park(ing) Day.

Munns said projects involving public parks have a lot of potential.

“If we rethink how we use public space, a lot of creative things can happen,” he said.

Each parking-space-turned-public-park installed by the FLC had different themes centered on heritage, student Alyssa Simmons said.

“We had (the UNM community) interact by putting pushpins of where they were from,” she said. “We also had people trace their hands and put their name inside of it and where they were from.”

Another “public park” on Las Lomas Road promoted reading, offering passersby a seat and a book.

One group set up a miniature home in their parking space, offering people the chance to sit and enjoy chips, salsa and candy.

Student Candace Montoya said this group took its inspiration from the Lobo Reading Experience book “Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream” by Sam Quinones.

“Delfino didn’t have a home, so that’s why we decided to provide the community with a home … to provide the community with comfort,” she said.

Munns said the community responded positively to Park(ing) Day and he will try to make it an annual event on campus.

“We’ve had a lot of people stop by,” he said. “Some of the groups had sign-up sheets for their event, and I saw some that were three or four pages thick.”