Go, Johnny, Go

Go! Downtown Arts Festival 2004

Steven Robert Allen
3 min read
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The Downtown contemporary arts scene recently experienced a series of painful body blows. The Walls Gallery, a refurbished storefront space specializing in site-specific installations, announced it would be closing. Then Jon McConville, the brain behind the successful Fort Studios and one of the driving forces behind Downtown revitalization efforts, had to leave town unexpectedly to be with his family in Idaho. (Thankfully, it looks like Fort Studios will continue under the leadership of McConville's former assistant, Josh Franco. It'll now be called the Downtown Contemporary Art Center.) And, of course, Magnífico recently had to give up its beautiful exhibit space at 516 Central SW due to troubled finances.

We can cry. We can moan. But the arts Downtown are like a hydra—lop off one head and another will eventually grow back in its place. One of the new heads is Go!, a Downtown contemporary arts festival that popped up for the first time last year. Last September, Go! brought 10,000 people to the stretch of Central between Second Street and Eighth Street to gawk at art displayed in dozens of booths and to fork out over $14,000 for paintings, sculptures, photographs, jewelry and other creations by local artists.

This year's festival is set for this coming weekend. As was true last year, Go!'s jurying process ensures that the art for sale is high quality.

The event kicks off with a reception at Magnífico's old gallery space on Friday, Sept. 24. That evening you'll have a chance to preview work by some of the artists represented in the festival. The Del Gato Trio will play jazz and blues tunes from 6 to 9 p.m., and there should be some tasty snackables heaped on platters for your chowing pleasure.

The main event occurs outside on Central on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 26, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you're in the market for some new art, the festival presents an ideal opportunity to meet with local artists and haggle out a good deal on whatever piece catches your eye.

Even if you just want to browse around, you should come on down anyway. When you're done poking through the stalls, you can jig to some killer world music at the stage erected on Fourth and Central. Bands like Soma, Vanilla Pop, Kumusha, Perdido and Sonicbids will be pumping out musical styles from all over the globe. Groups like Baila! Baila! and Viviendo Flamenco will show off some dance moves as well.

There are a couple other cool performances happening at the festival. From 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Mariachi Tenampa will stroll down the street playing some true New Mexican Mariachi music. Those masters of puppetry, Wise Fool, will perform on stage Sunday at 2 p.m. then escort their giant puppets on a procession down Central.

It should be a good time. For a full roster of events, pick up the official guide to Go! at various venues around town or in the September issue of ABQArts.

Go! Downtown Arts Festival 2004 occurs Sept. 24 to 26 in downtown Albuquerque. 243-2230.

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