Alibi V.29 No.2 • Jan 9-15, 2020 

Art Magnified

The Art of Signs

Finding a deeper meaning in their words

signs
Common signs around Albuquerque. Their significance is not to be overlooked.
Photo by Clarke Condé

Recent additions to the signage in the Albuquerque streetscape have caused confusion, consternation and collisions. There is a basic organizing principal behind street signs, but they have a deeper meaning that is worth reevaluating; they are signs of a commitment we have to one another in our community. As civilizations become more complex, so does the art they make and these signs are trying to tell us we are progressing as a city.

But are they art? Art seeks to express a feeling and evoke that feeling in others. It is hard to argue that these signs aren’t trying to do that. Then, what is the feeling that these signs are trying to evoke? Let’s consider four of the seemingly most confusing of Albuquerque’s street signs and see if we can find a deeper understanding in what they are trying to tell us.

Bus Lane. This lane is only for buses. Check and see if you are driving a city bus. If you are not, stay out of this lane.

Keep Right Except to Pass. It turns out that “The Fast Lane” is simply a figment of Colonel Glenn Frey’s imagination and does not correspond to an actual lane on the highway. If you are not actively passing another car, do not drive in the left lane.

Signals Set to 30 MPH. The traffic lights on Lead and Coal avenues are timed such that, if you go through a green light and continue traveling at 30 MPH, you can continue down the road without stopping for a red light. If you floor it down the road, you will hit a red light and force people that are traveling behind you at 30 MPH to slow down or stop while you get back up to speed.

Pack Out All Trash. This sign at Albuquerque Open Space means don’t throw trash in the Bosque or the river. People don’t want to see your trash on the ground, in the trees or floating in the river. Take your trash with you when you leave.

There is an art to living in a society that stems from not being rude to one another. It seems a simple concept we can all agree to. Who knew these signs could, at their root, be reminding us of that?