The Duke City Comic Con brought together fans to celebrate comics, video games, anime, movies and TV shows, June 16 - 18 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. In attendance were actors from popular media, including Jackson Rathbone from the “The Twilight Saga” and voice actor Alejandro Saab from “Genshin Impact” – a popular video game franchise. Jared Rotegas, a Con attendee, said that he is interested in both the social and material aspects of the Con. “(I want) to show my cosplay off and meet other people,” Rotegas said. “I’m also here to browse. I spent a little over a hundred bucks yesterday.”
A Queer prom was hosted by Meow Wolf and the Human Rights Alliance of Santa Fe on June 14. The HRA works to educate and engage the Santa Fe community in Queer and LGBTQ issues. The prom was held in honor of Shontez ‘Taz’ Denise Morris – a former Meow Wolf employee and member of the HRA. HRA is an organization first created to advocate for the civil rights legislation in the 1990’s and currently provides a scholarship and hosts pride festivities, according to the Santa Fe HRA website. Mark Westberg, a committee member for the HRA, worked with Meow Wolf to organize the prom. The event was focused on creating an environment that Taz would enjoy. The committee’s members' roles include community outreach with an emphasis on Queer youth, Westberg said.
Viva La Plant Shop officially opened their doors Thursday, May 11. Their new brick-and-mortar store is located inside of New Nuevo – a shared space centered in the Plaza of Old Town. Matt Vinson and Iris Valenzuela-Vinson, partners and owners of Viva La Plant Shop, began displaying their passion for plants with pop-up bus shops amid the pandemic in Memphis, Tennessee. Last summer they brought their business to Albuquerque. “We were able to adapt quickly when we moved, and we essentially almost had a community here already when we started, so it was a very easy transition for us and we felt like we were able to start quickly and make connections quickly,” Vinson said.
With a 50% chance of living past 106, according to a 2018 study from the journal Science it is an opportunity to meet an individual who has lived over a century. Catherine Kunz – born in 1917 – was able to celebrate her 106th birthday on June 15, 2023. The community at her assisted living facility gathered on her special day to give her birthday wishes and share cake. On it, her age was written in white frosting calligraphy. Sara Mendoza – the daughter of a resident at the living facility – brought the cake for Kunz. “I ordered the cake through Albertson’s and they had to call me to make sure they were really writing 106, and that it wasn’t some sort of typo,” Mendoza said.
The 32 acres of the Albuquerque BioPark Botanical Gardens displays plants from the American Southwest and around the world. Beyond plants, they also host events. This event was the starting point of a series of Garden Music events that will continue on throughout the summer, located at the BioPark, Zoo and Botanical Gardens on various dates. Later this summer, the BioPark will also have the Garden Sound of Music hosted by the Albuquerque Department of Arts and Culture.
Raychael Stine – an associate professor of painting and drawing at The University of New Mexico – has spent most of her life exclusively painting dogs. This past week, Stine was chosen to participate with 50 other artists in a show titled “The Flower Show,” hosted at La Louver – an art gallery in Los Angeles. The show will feature artists that incorporate flower imagery within their work. Stine’s two paintings being showcased are titled, “Middle Lover 3” and “Ophelia 3.” Her work plays with light, color and space while incorporating what she calls her “secret dogs,” which are portraits that serve as the basis of her painting that she then makes abstract.
Festival Flamenco comes to Albuquerque on June 9 and will run for nine days with performances and workshops throughout the city. Marisol Encinias, the festival’s executive director, said the goal for this year's selection of artists was to challenge expectations while having performances that complement one another. The festival has brought in 12 international dance companies along with one New Mexico company. The importance of the art form in New Mexico established the demand to hold the festival here, Encinias said.
After writing primarily fiction novels and children’s books, Betsy James – University of New Mexico professor, author, and illustrator – released her nonfiction book, “Breathing Stone: Living Small in a Southwest Village” on May 30, 2023. “This book is kind of a departure for me because I’ve always written fiction,” James said. “My departure to nonfiction started from a very writerly practice … Sometimes I say ‘I write like ducks quack.’ Writing is very second nature to me.”
An unconventional film festival, The Fronteras Micro-Film Festival opened on Friday, June 2 at the ABQ Artwalk. The film festival presented several short films simultaneously, each playing in a unique art exhibit with a central theme on immigration status and border politics, according to organizer Jade Stokes.
As Pride month commences, The LGBTQ Resource Center at the University of New Mexico serves as a home for many students, Frankie Flores said. Flores serves as the center’s director, as well as a mentor and advocate for students. “My mission with this field – with the work that I do – is to make sure that our students, from admission to graduation, feel honored, affirmed and welcomed on this campus, which can be everything from helping them get food from the local food pantry to suicide deescalation,” Flores said.
For incoming mechanical engineering majors, your senior year will require a commitment to a design project. Addison Portman recently guided one of this year's projects to the finish line. Around 35 students spend three semesters building a Formula-1 or Indycar style racecar that will compete in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) international engineering design competition, according to the LOBOmotorsports website.
Johnson Center Aquatics at the University of New Mexico is available to all incoming freshmen free of charge, according to Marcus Blackwell — the 62-year-old lifeguard and instructor at Johnson Center. However, there are some classes and resources that require an extra fee. “I teach group fitness and I try to get them to have fun and have a social interaction. When I left the last day of my step class, a girl came up and said, ‘It's too sad. This isn't even like a class. It's like a bunch of friends just getting together to work out,’” Blackwell said.
The University of New Mexico has several resource centers on campus to support new and current students, one of which is the Asian American Pacific Islander Resource Center. Farah Nousheen, the Student Success Specialist at AAPIRC, recently gave a speech at the center’s second annual convocation with the message, “The next Buddha will be a sangha.” Sangha means “community” in Sanskrit. “That's really the main takeaway for me from this year (at the center), that we must do this in community,” Nousheen said.
Graduating summa cum laude with a recently acquired prestigious scholarship under her belt, Charlotte Gates received the Fulbright Scholarship and has an even longer list of laurels to her name.
The University of New Mexico has 425 clubs — Giovanna Gong has played a prominent role in several during her time at UNM. Gong, a first generation college student, will graduate with a degree in international studies with a concentration in peacekeeping and diplomacy, as well as a minor in teaching English as a second language. She said the clubs and organizations on campus she was involved in were a highlight of her college experience, and provided her opportunities to meet new people at UNM.
“The biggest thing about being a journalist is staying true to who you are,” Junko Featherston, a graduating senior in the communications & journalism department, said. Featherston will graduate from the University of New Mexico with a 4.2 GPA and a degree in multimedia journalism with a minor in Japanese. While studying she also worked at New Mexico PBS, interning for producer Lou DiVizio.
Four years ago Alex Maggs found himself in the desert 4,888 miles away from his home in Birmingham, England. Since then, Maggs has grown as a tennis player and a student. He finished the season on the all-conference team for his play in the doubles matches and is graduating with a GPA of 4.06. Maggs first picked up a tennis racket when he was five years old in an after-school program. He said he tried many different activities, but it was tennis that stuck with him.
Abrianna Morales has spent her time at the University of New Mexico lobbying for political change and advocating for survivors of sexual violence. She graduates with a double major in psychology and criminology, and she said she already has big things on the horizon. Morales plans to stay in the Albuquerque area and continue her advocacy work with the National Organization for Victim Assistance. She also plans to continue her advocacy with the organization she started, Sexual Assault Youth Support Network, as well as her relationship with UNM.
During his four years as an undergraduate, John Scott has played a large role in the beating heart that is UNM student publications. He served as editor-in-chief of the Daily Lobo, while he simultaneously worked as the digital editor of Scribendi, an editor of Limina: UNM Nonfiction Review and an artist and creator outside of his studies.
Attending the University of New Mexico as an international student from Juárez, Mexico, Annya Loya Orduno graduates as an award-winning reporter who has already played an active role and left an impact in New Mexico journalism. Loya Orduno served as the news editor for the Daily Lobo, interned at the Las Cruces Sun-News and will now go on to work as a journalist for the Deming Headlight through the New Mexico News Fund fellowship.