Factions of Albuquerque's community banded together Downtown over the weekend of Dec. 15 and 16 to check out art, dance the night away and collect toys for children in need.
At the Downtown Contemporary Gallery on Fourth Street, curator Josh Jones corralled together an array of talent for an art show that had more going on than simply the creations on the walls. Dubbed "Winter Daze," this was a fourth annual event that brought together a spectrum of pop art and Lowbrow talents, including Stephanie Galloway, Corey Yazzie, Tristan Martinez, Paul Michael Jameson, Rick Lujan, Zuri Bennett-Paden, Nos 1, Shock and P. Nut, aka Jonathan Perea. The show also featured turntablist Wae Funky.
Josh Jones is no stranger to the Downtown underground arts scene, given his role as founder and lead protagonist of Black Market Goods (purveyors of inventive crafts and decorative objects, Jones' paintings included). His work is colorfully cartoonish and affordable by those with a yen for colorful graphics.
Jones has been a scene maker for several years and has hosted the annual “Winter Daze” toy drive since 2008.
"It's an opportunity for the artists we know and like to get together and do something good for the community," said Jones. "We often get together to show each other our art work and share what it is that we're doing. In this case, we get to do that for the sake of a good cause."
Perea said he likes to paint whimsical little monsters because they make him happy. A former student of graphic design at the Art Center Design College, Perea started making his creatures six or seven years ago when they began making appearances in his sketch books and canvasses. He's also experimented with graffiti art ("Nothing illegal," he says) but tends to limit the appearance of his creatures to canvas. His work is sometimes carried locally by Tokyo Hardcore.
"I think it's great to be able to go into a show and go home with something, so I tend to price my work in the affordable range," said Perea, whose pieces at Downtown Contemporary ranged from $25-$50. "I like to make stuff that a person working a minimum wage can afford."
Lujan's work featured a fearsome portrait of a La Llorona-like woman shot in high contrast in an industrial space. Her figure juxtaposed against the openness of the setting created an eerie atmosphere within the frame that seemed out of place given the show's title, but the piece was a clear standout.
The Downtown Contemporary Art Space has been in operation for 16 years, and originally opened and continues to operate for artists without formal gallery representation in Albuquerque. Founded by artist John McConville in 2002 following the demise of seminal gallery and studio space 2121, Downtown Contemporary is now run by a board comprised of working artists.
Meanwhile, east of Downtown in the Huning Highlands neighborhood, a different sort of event was in full swing, but with a the same goal of collecting holiday toys for children. Organized by a DJ dance collective called Foundation Industries, "Let it Snow" at the Albuquerque Press Club featured a bevy of turntable artists rocking the house in formal wear with the aim of raising money for children made homeless by Hurricane Sandy.
"There's an organization called Things of Our Very Own in New York whose submission to Toys for Tots got lost in the mail because of the hurricane," said Shawna Tillberg, founder of Foundation Industries. "We already had a plan in place to put together a toy drive event and we decided to send our toys to them instead."
The event, which brought close to 200 people through the doors, garnered four big boxes filled with toys as revelers celebrated Albuquerque's first snow in style. Event DJs included Digital Fusion, Distant Effect vs. Savage, Yermomma vs. Fries, The Rev vs. The Rabbi, Frost vs. Lou Jon-Son, Cosmic Disco, Tempo vs. Andre Ross, Subconscious, Terry Vernlock vs. Swing Kid, and Matt S. vs SFR.