The past and present collide continuously throughout Albuquerque, but nowhere more so than in the city’s vibrant arts and cultural scene.
Hispanic and Native American art is predominant here, where venues like the Nob Hill Art Gallery and others throughout Old Town and downtown mix new and traditional works. Those venues rub shoulders with such institutions as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and National Hispanic Cultural Center, where the creations of the present and past also are on display.
“We are the gateway to the 19 pueblos, and are responsible for the preservation, conservation and curation of invaluable objects from them and other tribes,” says Ron Solimon, president and chief executive officer of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which also houses the Institute for Pueblo Indian Studies’ Archive and Research Library along with its changing exhibit and community-activity spaces. One special surprise at the IPCC is its Pueblo House and Art Room, with the adjacent learning garden. Children and youth from both the Albuquerque and Pueblo communities participate in year-round programming focused on Pueblo life through an expansive program developed around IPCC’s museum, murals, weekly traditional dances and changing exhibits.
The National Hispanic Cultural Center is equally dedicated to blending the past and the present, and has done so through more than 37 art exhibits and a number of music, dance, theatrical, historical and education-related programs serving local, national and international audiences, all in its first decade of operations, says Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez, executive director.
“The NHCC is well positioned to represent local, regional, national and international artists, showcasing their work and talents,” Rael-Galvez says. “We have also forged strong relationships with other local, state and national art centers and museums as well as schools and universities.”
The center takes care to honor the traditions and culture of its historic Hispanic Barelas neighborhood, and does so through events ranging from the annual Día de los Muertos and Día del Niño festivals to the National Latino Writers Conference. But it’s also a national center, where it can present the works of Latino artists from around the nation and world.
“The role of exhibitions, performance and lectures all hold as a goal of informing, illuminating and perhaps even inspiring, but they also help cultivate new forms of knowledge and consciousness,” Rael-Galvez says. “Art and culture matter, and I would argue are instrumental in the health and vibrancy of a community. To the extent that we can contribute to that in the area, even a small bit, is very important.”
The richness of what these institutions represent is not only valuable for the community in terms of honoring its own history, but it also feeds into tourism and economic-development efforts that are key to the city’s future, adds Solimon.
“When people visit from here or elsewhere and learn about the pueblos, the people, they also are visiting the entire city,” he says, “We find that working with other museums and organizations on special events can bring even more awareness to us, and those collaborations help us to expand and improve the whole arts and culture district.”
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