By Amy Dalness
The creative minds behind the Donkey Gallery once told the Alibi they didn't put much emphasis on publicity. Instead, they focused their attention on love and support of arts. This fact never kept the Donkey Gallery from attracting an audience to their clever shows and receptions, which often included some unusual perk not regularly found at a "proper" gallery opening. (Did someone say pancakes?)
But for the past few months there have been whispers about the fate of the Donkey Gallery—rumors the space was closing its doors. In January of this year, I asked David Leigh, a former co-founder of Donkey Gallery and now an Alibi contributing writer, about the murmuring, but he gave no comments. Then just a few weeks ago, I received an electronic press release announcing a new exhibit of photographs by Sam McFarlane—to be Donkey Gallery's last. McFarlane's photographs will be on display through April 20 and all proceeds will go to Sam McFarlane's Memorial Scholarship fund at UNM, where he was a MFA student. After that, the Donkey Gallery will suspend its gallery operations, but its directors will still have control over the building.
Although there is no official word on the closing—as the aforementioned purposeful lack of publicity indicates—Alibi Managing Editor Laura Marrich spoke to Larry Bob Phillips, Donkey Gallery co-director, informally about a closing shindig to be held on Saturday, April 12. Phillips said he planned to host a bluegrass hoedown and closing party after the opening reception for 516 Arts' two new shows, Snap Crackle Pow! and Alchemy, from 6 to 8 p.m. featuring both David Leigh and Larry Bob Phillips as artists. I called the gallery to get further information but did not receive a call back by press time, so I'd recommend visiting 516 Arts (242-1445) to seek more details.
The closing of a devoted alternative arts space is always a loss, but growth and development are inevitable in a burgeoning cultural locale such as Albuquerque. The Donkey Gallery is one of many irreplaceable steps in Albuquerque's artistic evolution. Godspeed, Donkey.
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