When photographer Julia Lopez moved from Albuquerque to Seattle, her pictures changed.
"My work got so much darker and drearier," Lopez notes. "Here in Albuquerque, it's sunny, and serotonin levels have definitely affected my work. Seattle is gloomy as hell."
Lopez and fellow artist Nick Etre say Albuquerque has always felt like home. They both moved to Seattle after spending most of their lives in the Duke City. But Albuquerque still courses through their veins. For Lopez, the pull of Burque was so strong that she decided to leave Seattle and stay here for a while longer. Etre is leaving the Pacific Northwest for New York this fall. Etre and Lopez decided to put together an art show with three other former residents of the city who moved to different locations. Whether they now reside in Florida, New York, Spain or El Salvador, each artist’s inspiration is still drawn from Albuquerque. That's the focus of Duke Sweet Duke at The Trillion Space. "The show is about how Albuquerque has shaped the artists' own identities," Etre says. "Albuquerque is constantly apparent in the work that they're creating."
In his time in Albuquerque, Etre's become fascinated by the Duke of Albuquerque. "This figure has become very popular," Etre says. "But there's not that much information about him. We've kind of lost our history and that got me thinking about how much of who I am is going to be lost in history."
Etre contends that Burque has shaped his sculpture and prints, but it's also informed his sense of who he wants to see his art. The city's strong sense of community pushes Etre to show his work to as many people as possible. "A lot of the work I do is very interactive," Etre says. "I like to get the community involved in my work because I feel like you're reaching a much larger audience and having a much greater effect if you're not just pigeonholed into a small art-world group."
Etre says not every city is lucky enough to be inhabited by people unconcerned with maintaining social cliques and excluding outsiders. "In Seattle and Portland, people were really shut off from one another," Etre says. "They're all doing their own thing and there's no real sense of shared space."
Etre uses the city he grew up in as the place to start exploring his craft and his own persona. "I felt like if I could pinpoint Albuquerque and focus on the space I grew up in, I could try to come to terms with who I am and what my identity is," Etre explains. "It's kind of a jumping off point to help me find out what's made me who I am today and how this particular space has made me unique."
Etre says part of his love for Burque comes from being a place he knows well. "Is it Albuquerque specifically that I'm in love with, or is it just the fact that I know where everything is?" Etre asks. "I feel comfortable in this environment, so I feel at home here."
Though he knows he'll always feel his hometown's influence wherever he goes, Etre says he wants to travel to other destinations, live elsewhere and discover the ways new locations can shape his art. "I really do want to move around a lot," Etre asserts. "I want to get a bunch of different experiences and then move back here."
Etre says if the show accomplishes its aims, people who take in Duke Sweet Duke will feel the show depicts our fair city accurately. "I hope people see the show and say, This is the place we've grown up in, or, This is where we moved to and fell in love," Etre says. "I hope they say, This is a representation of our home."
The free opening reception for Duke Sweet Duke is Friday, June 19, from 7 to 11 p.m. at The Trillion Space (510 Second Street NW). The show runs through Sunday, June 21.