Albuquerque was officially founded in 1706, but since then its borders have swollen, causing the city to surround and absorb many other communities. Duranes, Atrisco, San Jose, Barelas—all were once settlements all their own, and all still feel a bit apart from the main drag, further back in time and a little farther away.
Barelas may actually contain the oldest neighborhoods in what’s now Albuquerque—it dates back to 1662, before the founding of the Villa de Alburquerque and even before the Pueblo Revolt. First a river crossing, later a farming town, later a place where almost everyone in town worked for the railroad, Barelas is now a mostly tranquil cluster of neighborhoods. Fourth Street, which runs right through its center, was once a part of Route 66, but now features four of the city’s most exciting and experimental music-and-art venues. And tranquil’s not usually the word for those. From left to right, on the west side of Fourth Street, there’s a McDonalds, a gas station, a parking lot swarming with feral cats, The Tannex, The Tan Gallery, The Small Engine Gallery and then, a little ways on, The Plant.
Music happens at those last four. Music and art. The Tannex, in particular, has seen quite a lot of activity lately. Initially just an annex of the Tan Gallery, the Tannex has grown since March of this year into a wonderful space all its own, hosting art exhibits, movie nights, lectures, readings, a zine festival and live music shows from nearly every genre. It’s also home to the Albuquerque Zine Library, easily the best place in the whole city to peruse wonderfully weird, lo-fi, self-published media.
The Tannex is the labor of love of three locals who have put immeasurable amounts of work into Albuquerque’s music and arts scenes: Andy Lyman, drummer for freak-punk phenomenon Dallas and owner of the Tan Gallery next door; Marya Errin Jones, Dallas’ lead-singer and the creator of the ABQ Zine Fest; and Joe Cardillo, former lead-singer of local garage-rock legends The Scrams and founding member of the Terri Schiavo Dance Party. Before it became the Tannex, the building housed some sort of reggae-themed juice store, and the south side of the building featured a huge, tacky, airbrushed painting promoting it. Now, that wall is becoming something very different—something for everyone.
The Tannex’s south side now features the beginnings of a new mural. The mural needs you, though, to finish it. It needs you to come to Barelas, park among the feral cats, stroll over to the Tannex, pick up a paintbrush and color it in. That’s because the new mural is an enormous color-by-numbers painting, created by local artist ¡BRAPOLA!, aka Luke Hussack.
Marya Errin Jones came up with the idea for a mural of legendary New Mexican singer Al Hurricane after daydreaming about Hurricane floating over the rooftops of Albuquerque like a figure in Marc Chagall’s painting “Over the Town.” Hussack—whose crude but delightfully expressive art has graced countless local show fliers, t-shirts and gallery walls—suggested the idea of making the mural a color-by-numbers painting, which the whole community could then be invited to help fill in. The mural’s outline is now up and numbered, thanks to Hussack working for hours on a ladder in the dark and cold, and on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 10am to 5pm, you and everyone in town are invited to come finish it. Paint the 6’s black, including those that make up Hurricane’s iconic eye-patch. Paint the 1’s red, including those on the necks of his guitars. And so on. Bring art supplies if you have them, or just bring yourself. Refreshments will be provided, at least until they run out.
Al Hurricane himself plans to make an appearance at this event, so while you’re enjoying being out in the community, meeting interesting people and adding to a piece of public art that people will enjoy for years to come, you may also get to talk with a living legend.
“Al Hurricane is a local treasure,” says Marya Errin Jones. “He’s that grandfather who shows up at the family dinner, and you don’t know what he’s going to do or say, but you always know you’re going to walk away with a story to tell later. He’s the Godfather of New Mexico Music. Born in Dixon, a graduate of Albuquerque High School … he’s played with Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, Marvin Gaye [and] Elvis Presley, but I don’t think there’s a mural of him anywhere in New Mexico. Now, there will be. Now, when people move to town, who treat Albuquerque like some outpost, ready to teach us how to create community, we can point to the mural and say, ‘Go figure out who this is first. … Thanks.’”