Among the various opportunities around campus to exhibit, publish or play students’ work, the College of Fine Arts Downtown Studio offers a space for students that lets their work be a little bit more immersed in the community.
As the title suggests, this gallery is located in Downtown Albuquerque. Lara Goldmann, the gallery’s manager and curator, tells of how this fairly new space got started.
“The city of Albuquerque made an agreement with the College of Fine Arts to give us a space downtown…if we occupy it with creative content in some way and reach out to the Downtown community,” Goldmann said.
Goldmann applied for her job because the job listing was vague enough to sound interesting, she said.
Goldmann was originally meant to assist in various tasks, like potential classes that were held there. But she soon realized that classes weren’t enough, she said.
“I started being down there, and I realized, we can't just use this as classrooms or anything like that,” Goldmann said. “This space has incredible potential to be a beautiful platform for young, emerging artists from the College of Fine Arts.”
And so that’s what the CFA Downtown Studio became. Rapheal Begay, an undergraduate in the arts department, recently had work displayed in the studio in an undergraduate photography exhibition called, “Pavlov’s Dogs: An Art Show.” He also volunteered to help put the exhibition together and promote it.
“Actually having a piece within the space for the first time was a really rewarding and eye-opening experience, let alone with the amount of feedback and foot traffic that came in to support the show in general,” Begay said.
The studio is an inviting and inclusive social space, he said.
“I consider it a social space, because a multitude of backgrounds and people have different interests and come to these shows,” Begay said. “Specifically, the main goal in terms of promoting the show was to get as many people as we could from different backgrounds to support not only their friends or colleagues within the show, but to support the arts, support CFA Downtown and by extension, CFA here, at UNM.”
Goldmann, too, said that one of her favorite things about the studio is the variety of people that she gets to work with.
“Getting to know such a broad, big variety of people from totally different backgrounds, ideas, beliefs, who all share a similar passion which is to create art and communicate through art and use the gallery as a platform for that. That's been really, really rewarding,” Goldmann said.
Besides the photography show that showcased Begay’s work, Goldmann said the space holds a lot of different types of creative works and projects, including concerts, collaborations with a weaving organization, children’s shows and a high school outreach program.
“We have high schoolers coming in, listening to artists talk, looking at the exhibitions and engaging with the contemporary art of people who are not that much older than them,” Goldmann said.
Most people who come to see the gallery are already interested in or involved with art and music at UNM, she said.
Outside of his involvement in a show, Begay has made visits to the studio, he said.
“The space itself is interesting in terms of having its own little room, a nice corridor and an outdoor patio space,” Begay said. “It's very much a gallery, an exhibition space, but also very much a social space from what I've seen of it before.”
He said the studio has a lot of potential, and he would love to see it become physically larger so that it can hold more art and more people.
“There's certainly a limitation to the space, like with any other given space, but a challenge or an opportunity to see how you can occupy it is one of the most rewarding things about it,” Begay said. “Seeing that progress throughout the years has been really interesting.”
One of Goldmann’s favorite experiences at the studio was last January due to the amount of people who came to a panel discussion, she said.
“We had people almost standing outside on the sidewalk, it was so filled,” Goldmann said. “And after three years of trying to get people to come and remembering the first talk we had there, with maybe like, five people, that was just an incredible experience.”
“It's a very organically developing place, and I think it will grow with the people who participate,” Goldmann said. “There is not a master plan; there's just the hope that it remains an open and accessible space which students and young artists and musicians can share their work and experience what it means to work in a professional setting and grow.”
Both Goldmann and Begay recommend stopping by the space at least once.
“If they drop by, they might see something that they hadn't seen before, and it might change the way they thought about things — and that's a worthwhile experience,” Goldmann said.
Ariel Lutnesky is a culture reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ArielLutnesky.