If you notice the next time you are cruising Downtown that the alleyways are more colorful, it is all thanks to the new Paint for Peace projects. Paint for Peace’s beautification projects began when artists Downtown on Second St. were spray painting walls. They initially thought that they were in trouble when caught, but their late-night endeavors spurred events that created a positive outcome. In fact, these artists were later commissioned to affix their work to plywood boards Downtown, and that would eventually be the catalyst to initiate the Paint for Peace project. With the artists and the conceptualized vision, Paint for Peace began looking at ways to reimagine Downtown that primarily focused on beautification. The Arts and Culture District, and in particular Lola Bird who is the executive director of Downtown ABQ Mainstreet, has been helping with significant donations for artist stipends and supplies for the artwork that has been created.
Cleaning Up the Alleys
Part of Paint for Peace involves activating the alleyways and a push for more lighting and repaving parts of Downtown. Paint for Peace, the OT Circus, Curious Toast and many area schools including Siembra High School have gotten involved in this particular initiative to clean up Downtown. The students at Siembra High School are currently working on the Downtown Takeover (DT Takeover) project, which will implement more community activities for kids in the Downtown area.
Negotiating with Peterson Properties
One of the challenging aspects of the Paint for Peace project is the contention facing Peterson Properties. Peterson Properties currently has not allowed the artists to paint murals, add installations or employ projection art on properties owned by them. Peterson Properties has been contacted by Paint for Peace on numerous occasions regarding this matter. However, the business owners who currently occupy the properties have murals painted on their walls. Proposals for murals set to be featured are by talented artists, and the organization has informed Peterson Properties that the murals will be paid for and that they can choose designs they want on their buildings.
The Occupational Therapy Circus (OT Circus), which is a nonprofit that focuses on therapeutic methods through healing and uses creativity to build communities, is a fiscal sponsor of the Paint for Peace project. When the OT Circus began, they were one of the first three galleries for Art Walk in 2015, and many of the artists who were part of that initial initiative such as Nocturne are now getting commissions for artwork. Victoria Van Dame, who is the executive director of the OT Circus and an occupational therapist, is currently working on a project with foster children through Paint for Peace. The children have created pom poms that are currently displayed outside the circus. Van Dame states, “It is important to get everyone together to join in a creative vision and build a community no matter where you live in Albuquerque. Art is what people see, and it is a tangible thing that occupies intellectual property in your brain.” Van Dame also says that art brings together community members and creative minds and is a crucial part of building community.