Now that I live 5,000 miles away from Albuquerque—in London, a city as gray and lusterless as the stereotype—it’s easy to think of all the things I miss: sunshine, foamy beer and green chile chicken enchiladas probably top the list. But the unexpected one, the one that all the artsy hip Londoners would scoff at, is a painting on a building. Sure, London is supposed to be a street-art Mecca and there are tons of pieces all over the place, from Banksy to Space Invader to less well-known artists, but they all lack the kind of life that the Central rainbows embody.
Albuquerque didn’t have a months-long Marina Abramovic show to torture us into art world obeisance (the “Grandmother of Performance Art” sat immobile for more than 700 hours in the Museum of Modern Art). But 2010 was a year of exhibitions, performances and people that have come to define the alternative position our city is carving out in the larger art world.
Though sometimes derided as “low art,” no other medium better captures the zeitgeist of the mid-20th century than unlicensed velvet art, though purists will argue that the it is usually painted on felt board.