Bright chalk drawings complete with cartoon-style characters and witty sayings adorn the sidewalks of the University of New Mexico, and even more works from the artist, Maewyn Padilla, can be found every first Friday of each month at the Albuquerque Artwalk.
Working in a variety of mediums, Padilla has experience with many different types of art but primarily enjoys chalk art at the moment.
Chalk art is fairly new to Padilla, who began doing it in her driveway about a year ago. She began by putting out a bucket of chalk and a sign that invited anyone to draw on the concrete, which is something open to everyone and a resource that doesn't cost money.
After running out of space in her driveway, Padilla began to notice all of the religious art around UNM’s campus and wanted to create something less targeted for one group.
“I kind of wanted to put something out there that could be for everyone … something that just could maybe make people smile as they walked by. I put a bunch of little phrases on all of them (to) make people think and stop for a minute on their daily regular thing where they just go into autopilot,” Padilla said.
Women and cartoons are what Padilla draws the most, as she is drawn to the beautiful figures in women and sees each as a piece of art. Padilla pulls a lot of inspiration from bookstores as well as video games, specifically Cuphead, for her original cartoon characters.
“I know that I draw a lot of cartoons, and it's not very deep when other people look at it, but just the whole process of it all is what's meaningful to me. Just having that zone that I can get into that just takes me away from everything and puts me in that place at that time where nothing else matters (is) priceless to me,” Padilla said.
Art is an ever-present part of Padilla’s life, reaching as far as the walls of her home, which are covered in drawings. Padilla’s niece Kaya Herring said art was embedded into everything Padilla did when growing up. Further, she said Padilla’s kind personality and joy of sharing art is something that reaches the larger community.
“She's been a big influence in my life, specifically around creative expression, being myself,” Herring said.
During the pandemic, Padilla saw being able to show at the Albuquerque Artwalk as a way to get out of the house. She shows prints and stickers of her work at the artwalk on the first Friday of every month alongside close friend Kelli Judkin-Coope. The two showcase their own art in a shared booth outside of OT Circus, a local nonprofit that provides artists with a free space to create or showcase their work.
Padilla said she calls Judkin-Cooper her “backbone” and heavily credits her as someone she would not have the confidence to enter the public art world without. As busy, working moms, the two have driven “each other try to in new venues” in the past year.
Padilla enjoys public art, like murals and graffiti, because it’s something for everyone to enjoy and may cause someone to change their way of thinking, even if it’s just for a moment. This type of art really makes a city interesting, she said.
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“I love the whole idea that a lot of graffiti art was inspired from this idea that you just put up something beautiful that's not permanent that people can enjoy, that nobody knows who did it, you never get credit for (it), you never get paid for (it), anything like that,” Padilla said. “It's really just about sharing.”
Along with work currently being showcased at OT Circus, her art can be seen in Village Print Shop and, beginning in March, Rebel Prints Gallery. Padilla hopes to keep growing as an artist and try different projects to keep her work new and exciting.
“My greatest hope (is to keep creating new things) and fear is staleness. I never want to be the person that's just creating the same thing over and over and over with maybe a slightly different pose or something like that,” Padilla said. “I want to continue to grow, try new things even if I fail. I think failure is a huge part of art.”
Madeline Pukite is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @madelinepukite