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Modern Arts

Albuquerque today is notable for the breadth and depth of its arts community. It’s an arts center in its own right and home to dozens of nationally known artists. In 2005 Albuquerque was second among favorite arts destinations in mid-size cities for readers of AmericanStyle.

Albuquerque has multiple museums and arts venues. Just a few are The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, near Old Town; The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which features arts and crafts as well as performances of the state’s 19 pueblos; Petroglyph National Monument, where ancient rock art is preserved; the South Broadway Cultural Center, which has both gallery and performing space; the stellar National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico with both theaters and museum; and UNM’s Center for the Arts, a complex devoted to performance, visual arts and arts study.

Some 250 arts organizations serve the metro area. Of those, 45 are guilds. And more than 400 artisan manufacturing companies produce furniture, jewelry, pottery, clothing and textiles.

Visual Arts

The City of Albuquerque’s Public Art Program, one of the oldest in the country, began in 1978, when voters passed the Art in Municipal Places Ordinance. This bold initiative set aside 1 percent of city construction monies from the general-obligation bond program and certain revenue bonds to buy or commission works of art. Today, the City of Albuquerque has more than 350 works of art its Public Art Collection. Even the airport has its own 113-piece permanent art collection.

The Albuquerque Museum of Art & History recently complete a renovation that includes an expanded sculpture garden and a new 8,000-square-foot changing exhibitions gallery.

The University Art Museum, located in the Center for the Arts, houses the largest fine arts collection in New Mexico, at 30,000 objects, including photography, prints and drawings, 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture, Spanish Colonial and Old Master artworks, and the Tamarind Institute Print Archive. The photography collection is the largest and most diverse collection owned by any university museum in the United States.

Jonson Gallery, on the UNM campus, is the former home of the late modernist painter Raymond Jonson. The gallery features changing exhibitions of artworks by contemporary artists and Jonson.

Tamarind Tamarind Lithography Workshop Inc. was founded in Los Angeles in 1960 to save the dying art of lithography. It moved to Albuquerque in 1970 and affiliated with UNM, becoming Tamarind Institute, a division of the College of Fine Arts. Today the institute continues to educate and also provides contract printing and lithograph sales.

Performing Arts

True to the city’s diverse makeup, Albuquerque’s performing arts range from The National Institute of Flamenco to the New Mexico Ballet Company, from Broadway shows at UNM’s Popejoy Theater to a number of smaller theater venues, from the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra to New Mexico Jazz Workshop.

UNM’s Center for the Arts houses four theaters, from the elegant showcase of Popejoy Hall to the intimate Theater X. Virtually any day of the year one of the four has an event.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico, which opened in 2000, is one of the biggest developments in the Spanish-speaking world. Located on 52 acres in the historic Barelas neighborhood, the center in 2004 opened the $22.5 million Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts. It also has smaller theaters, along with a library, classrooms and art museum.

The South Broadway Cultural Center blossomed from a branch library to a multicultural center with theater and gallery.

And a few years ago, Musical Theater Southwest, which began in 1968, rescued the closed Hiland movie theater and renovated it to create a venue for its own productions and those of other groups.

 The 1927-vintage KiMo Theatre, the city’s Pueblo Deco jewel, was renovated in the late 1970s and again in 1999. Today the KiMo is constantly booked for musical events, lectures, films and drama.

And Albuquerque Little Theater, born in the Depression, continues its long tradition of lively theatrical offerings. ALT gave Vivian Vance her first big break, to the point of sending the young actress to New York for dramatic training. She would become famous as Ethel Mertz, Lucille Ball’s sidekick, a role she initially considered “too frumpy.”

In 2005 Albuquerque was host of the National Poetry Slam, a major event in the world of performance poetry.

New Media

Albuquerque has also distinguished itself in the arena of new media.

DomeFest, held yearly at LodeStar Astronomy Center in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, is the only festival in the world that focuses on artistic expression in this large format immersive environment. 

The Duke City Shootout (formerly DigiFest Southwest) is another unique annual event. Participants must produce, shoot, edit and premiere their 12-minute film in only seven days.

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