Shadow Of Youth

Andre Infante
3 min read
The infamous Ice House mural nearly covered this entire south-facing wall. (Tina Larkin)
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Editor’s note: We’ve been working with Andre for the past few months on a column about his experience touring the would-be all-ages venue, the Ice House. Within the next month, the City Council is faced with a decision which could make or break the future of this space. Here’s just one of many voices affected by the decision.

The building—nestled behind a thin stretch of cracked pavement in downtown Albuquerque—is shabby despite a fresh coat of paint. We approach cautiously, but upon reaching the door our interest is sparked and we enter with excitement. 

A motley group, we range from our quiet guide to our exuberant camera-woman to our assortment of artists. We are an envoy of the youth arts organization MAP 21 and came to see what could become of this vacant space. The building is the former home of the Ice House, now owned by the city with plans to make it a community center. We came to see its potential.

Our tour, led by AJ Carian from the city’s Cultural Services Department, sweeps through the front hall, past the stage (with a fantastic lighting system), the kitchen and the rooms in the back. But it is not until we reach the garage that the full potential of the space is realized.    

As I step into the vast, dim space a vision strikes me of midnight halls and broken bodies. Ghostly teams of shadowy figures, gleaming with chains cross my view. Delicate as spider webs, walls and rooms rise and fall, growing like mist and blown away as quickly.

My visions fade as we sweep through the basements, each humongous and filled with every item imaginable. We continue to the smaller rooms at the end which we envision as computer labs and activity rooms.

It is not until after we leave the ghostly space that I voice my grand idea—a haunted house. We could get props donated and actors from after-school programs and volunteers. The whole thing could be done cheaply, and since our ideas for the space would surely be expensive we could use it to raise revenue. As an inauguration for the space, it would be perfect, leading the way for plays, concerts, art shows and everything else we considered on our tour. It would serve as a demonstration of the space’s potential.

As it is now, there is a shortage of recreational facilities for youth. Many of the new facilities being constructed are expressly for the elderly, and many others are in a bad state of repair. This building has the potential to change all that, and to offer many new opportunities for Albuquerque’s youth. We’d like to see this building renovated, and it’s management handed over to a youth group—the meeting tonight at 5 p.m. at Taylor Ranch Community Center will be decisive.

So I say this: We’re right behind you, Mr. Mayor. Start walking.
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