Although the pandemic has caused local businesses in downtown Albuquerque to close up shop, their boarded-up windows have given local artists a new canvas to display their work. 

Paint for Peace 505 is a local movement in Albuquerque to cover boarded-up windows with art. Many local artists contributed to this movement simply for the benefit of the community.

“It was really healing to turn that area into something so beautiful,” Jessica Anderson, one of the organizers, said.

After two weeks of work and preparation, an art show was held for the public on the evening of July 17. People drove or walked through, all wearing masks and keeping their distance.

“Everyone was doing a good job-- they wore their masks so they were being safe,” local artist Nora Atayde said.

Anderson said this was the perfect space to stay distanced during a pandemic because it was all outside.

“Everyone walking around just looked so happy and inspired,” Anderson said.

The artists were allowed to express themselves in their work. For example, local artist Jade Raquel Herrera painted a majestic black woman with butterfly wings and a little girl depicted inside her heart. Herrera said this represents that ““we were all little girls once upon a time, we all had dreams.”

In addition, Herrera wanted to emphasize that all women are similar and share the same goals.

“I wanted to make her a black woman because I feel like people tend to forget that women of all backgrounds are basically the same, from every color on the spectrum to every shape,” Herrera said.

Artists found the movement by word of mouth and by following #paintforpeace505. Anderson said she was getting five to ten artists contacting her a day about joining the movement.

The artists all got the same instructions for the event: “First come, first paint. Find a blank board. Please respect the ones that say reserved.”

Atayde worked on two different pieces for this event and said it was a great way to branch out and meet other artists.

“It’s really nice to finally get to meet some other people that are into the same stuff,” Atayde said.

The idea for this event came from Victoria Van Dame, owner of the OT Circus Gallery. 

“She was tired at looking at such a sad scene,” Anderson said. “She did see some artists that were painting on one of the boards and she was like ‘why don’t we just do this to all the boards?’”

Anderson said Van Dame saw the Black Lives Matter protests downtown and found them beautiful. The riots that followed afterward, however, brought more destruction than peace and had little to do with the BLM protesters. 

“We’re in such a dark time right now… Downtown is dead,” Anderson said.

The Mothership Alumni, an arts initiative organization, also helped along Fourth St., creating chalk designs and providing breakdancers.

One of the difficulties in organizing this was finding enough boards that the state allowed them to use. However, this problem was quickly solved as business owners began requesting that art be put on their windows as well.

Anderson is currently working to identify all of the artists that participated in the event and compile names for various businesses that have been asking about specific artwork. Other artists have already been contacted directly for commissions, like Herrera.

“I have so many artists in my pocket right now, I don’t know what to do with them,” Anderson said, trying to think of ideas for similar events in the future.

Individuals in other cities like Denver and San Francisco have shown interest in the event, and Anderson hopes this could turn into a national movement with various area codes attached to Paint for Peace. The possibility of garnering international attention is also revealing itself, with individuals in France that have also reached out.

“We all deserve peace and prosperity,” Anderson said.

Megan Gleason is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @fabflutist2716