Alibi V.29 No.5 • Jan 30-Feb 5, 2020 

Art Magnified

The Qualities of Context

The City of Albuquerque Employee Art Exhibit

“Stop Rowing for a Second” by Sarita Nair
“Stop Rowing for a Second” by Sarita Nair
Photo by Clarke Condé

Where does art fit into our lives and into our city? There are cities in this state that have so many galleries full of work by professional artists that you would be hard pressed to find work by amateurs hanging anywhere. Albuquerque is not like that. We find space for all comers and because of this, we are a more inclusive, more diverse and more expressive city. Not to run any other place down, but in Albuquerque we wear our art on our sleeves. By that I mean, it is just as likely to be found on our cars, curbs, arroyos or appendages than sequestered in a gallery.

Presumably, if you are a city employee, you make your living working for the city, not working as an artist. It follows then that the City of Albuquerque Employee Art Exhibit at the South Broadway Cultural Center is an amateur show hung for reasons other than making a profit. The works in this exhibit come from 40 employees from approximately 15 city departments. Many are not for sale.

One of particular note is a photograph titled “Stop Rowing for a Second” by Sarita Nair. It depicts an oar out of water on a quiet lake. The message is fitting for this show, given the context. It reminds us to take a moment to look around.

The qualities of context dictate so much of our judgments. We judge by reputation, experience and association. We walk into galleries to consider art and artists the same way. Don’t fool yourself. Walk into the South Broadway Cultural Center gallery space with an open mind and consider what you are looking at, not what you brought with you. The space is really is a beautiful place to see artwork, in this case, work likely only seen in the homes and offices of city employees. Begin with the works themselves and then back your way into a fresh perspective on the context of their creation. Then maybe, with a broader, more nuanced view, consider the people that make this city run.

City of Albuquerque Employee Art Exhibit
On exhibit through Feb. 27
South Broadway Cultural Center
1025 Broadway Blvd. SE
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