Albuquerque’s artistic side is up for display with the first 508 Mural Fest underway, featuring the work of over 25 muralists at 12 different locations in the city.
The event began Sept. 12 and is scheduled to continue through Sept. 23. Mural Fest is produced by Warehouse 508, and its title sponsor is Maddox and Co. Realtors.
The festival’s turnout has been a “beautiful” reaction to local art, said JP Eaglin, director of Warehouse 508. “People are walking by everyday, loving it,” Eaglin said, “driving by honking their horns. There’s a new energy downtown.”
508 Mural Fest is packed with activities for audiences of all ages, including a concert on Sept. 21 featuring talents such as Wild Humans and Timewreckers.
“We want to have a big impact and create something the community can enjoy,” Eaglin said.
Warehouse 508 features a variety of youth programs — one of the festival’s goals is to reach out to the community to let people know they exist, Eaglin said.
“We run on a shoestring budget,” he said. “We pretty much have zero dollars for marketing, and this is something we had to put our collective minds together to showcase the great works that we’re doing.”
The festival features multiple local and nonlocal artists, including Emanuel Martinez, an artist who has three pieces in the Smithsonian, and Thomas Christopher Haag, who has painted murals in Albuquerque and other cities.
One featured artist, Jazmyn Crosby, said being a part of the 508 Mural Fest has been thrilling, considering the level of respect and admiration she has for some of the other featured artists.
“It’s really exciting to see more color and mural opportunities happening in this city,” Crosby said. “A city that is very colorful and vibrant is a city that is really alive.”
Crosby said she is interested in being a part of the mural fest in the future — she has been scaling up in her own studio and wanting to showcase more of her work to the public.
“It’s really exciting to have something that is really accessible to (people in general) and not just people going to a gallery and seeking it out,” Crosby said. “It’s something that I can go really big and be expressive with. It’s so different painting with the whole body rather than painting really close up and intimately.”
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Eaglin has helped produce five other festivals in the past, but he said 508 Mural Fest has been a unique experience, as you don’t normally see a dozen artists all painting at the same time, he said.
Neighbors and community members have pulled over to discuss the art with artists who then recount their experiences, said Jay Spang, executive director of Warehouse 508.
“The neighborhood is so excited to see what’s happening,” Spang said. “It makes them feel like it’s making a difference, making people smile.”
Both Eaglin and Spang advise young artists to ignore the negative comments and not let people tell them they can’t make it as artists.
“When you find your passion, what you want to dedicate your life to, you never work; you’re always moving forward in a positive, more fulfilling life,” Eaglin said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or an engineer. You’re just a person. You don’t have to put a title on yourself. You just have to love yourself.”
Spang also advises that art students work with their professors to become an intern at Warehouse 508, as the space offers many hours of internship, mostly through the University of New Mexico. He said interns created a website, curated an art show and created a website and film project, calling it “incredible.”
“These are all youth-driven programs,” Eaglin said. “When you walk through our doors, you’re never going to see a youth playing a video game. They’re completely immersed in their class, whether they’re making T-shirts or learning to record skateboarding.”
More information on programs, such as production recording, poetry and dance can be found at warehouse508.org, and a full list of 508 Mural Fest’s schedule and locations can be found at 508muralfest.com.
Nichole Harwood is a news and culture beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.