Heart of the City 

What does the condition of the city’s urban core say about the heart and soul of the city? Heart of the City, organized by 516 ARTS, was a collaborative project and exhibition that examined intersections of art, urban planning, cultural and economical development, education and community dialogue through a variety of lenses to focus on the urban center and identity of the city. Downtown Albuquerque is the historical crossroads, transit hub, government seat and identifying skyline for the largest city in the state, but it also exhibits many of the challenges that face Albuquerque and other urban centers across the country.

Heart of the City examined the strengths, weaknesses and needs of the city’s urban core, seeking to articulate and imagine an alternative future for Albuquerque that resonates with optimism and possibility. From street art and murals to urban planning and community activism, this project centered around an exhibition at 516 ARTS that featured a series of projects created by lead artists and student apprentices, public art projects and public programs including forums, workshops and events with artists, planners, architects, students and activists focused on envisioning the future of Downtown Albuquerque.

516 ARTS brought together 12 organizations representing colleges, high schools, artist collectives, educational organizations and small businesses. Many of the projects included an intensive experience for students working with a lead artist who taught a class or completed a residency around their project, which culminated in installations in the exhibition at 516 ARTS and a few exciting public art projects around Downtown. The exhibition included sculpture, painting, photography, interactive work, installation, video, new media and artworks focusing on social engagement. Participating organizations and projects:

Organizations & Partners:

Lead artists:

516 ARTS
ACE Barber Shop
Amy Biehl High School
Axle Contemporary
City of Albuquerque Public Art Program     
CNM Art Department
UNM College of Fine Arts
UNM School of Architecture & Planning
Warehouse 508
Working Classroom  

Matthew Chase-Daniel
Amber Cobb
Carlos Contreras
Katya Crawford
Susan Frye
Diahndra Grill
Gabriel Jaureguiberry
Lee Montgomery
Celia Alvarez Muñoz
Aaron Noble
Larry Bob Phillips
Alf Simon
Vecinos Artist Collective
Jerry Wellman
Randall Wilson



Program Guide / Exhibition Catalog




Catalog documenting the project with Celia Alvarez Muñoz & Working Classroom


Heart of the City
 Image Gallery

  • Quantum Bridge (detail), mural on Warehouse 508, copyright Aaron Noble, Artist & The City of Abq
  • Gabe Jaureguiberry, ACE Barbershop (detail)
  • Axle Contemporary (Jerry Wellman & Matthew Chase Daniel), E Pluribus Unum, Santa Fe (detail)
  • Student Taelyn Reid working on Atrapado y Retoricido led by Amber Cobb, mixed media sculpture
  • Alf Simon, Katya Crawford & Susan Frye, Solids and Voids: Spaces in the Heart, Video installation
  • Larry Bob Phillips & CNM students, Signs of the Times (detail), mural on Century Downtown Theater
  • Carlos Contreras & Diahndra Grill, Upon Release, writing & art by inmates in JustWrite program
  • Lee Montgomery, ICAP & Dennis Kolokol, Constellations of the City, drone light painting of VLA Data
  • Zoe Patterson, Bicycle Plow from the series Cycles of Expression, led by Randall Wilson
  • Vecinos Artist Collective, A Brief Case for Making: Flores Vecinos
  • Celia Alvarez Munoz, Postales Postcards (detail), mixed media installation


read: Heart of the City Posits the Urban Core as a Central, Vital Organ, by Lauren Tresp, THE Magazine, April 2014
: Artists express views on Downtown's future by Damon Scott, Albuquerque Business First, Feb 7, 2014
read: CNM Art Class Creates Mural of Route 66 Golden EraCNMCC Employee News, Jan 16, 2014

Blog posts:
read: The Heart of the City and its Juicy urban core by London Rothko, The Seven Ring Circus, Feb 3, 2014

listen: Heart of the City by Megan Kamerick, KUNM Women's Focus, Jan 25, 2014

watch: Heart of the CityNew Mexico in Focus, Feb 10, 2014
watch: Heart of the City Web ExtraNew Mexico in Focus, Feb 10, 2014
watch: 516 ARTS stops by to talk local artThe Morning Brew, Dec 10, 2013
watch: Larry and Erin get rather craftywith Claude Smith and Michael Lorenzo LopezThe Morning Brew, Jan 31, 2014

watch: 516 ARTS Fosters Discussion in "Growing the Creative Core" by Benito Aragon, New Mexico Mercury, Feb 26, 2014
watch: Coverage of E Pluribus Unum: Albuquerque by Axel Contemporary, ¡COLORES! on NM PBS, Dec 10, 2013

This project is made possible in part by grants from: Bernalillo County; The City of Albuquerque: City Council & Mayor Richard Berry, Urban Enhancement Trust Fund, Albuquerque Arts Board/1% for Art Program; The FUNd of Albuquerque Community Foundation; McCune Charitable Foundation; New Mexico Arts, a division of the Office of Cultural Affairs; NPN/Visual Artists Network; The University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts. 



Image (top): Exhibition installation documentation, courtesy of 516 ARTS
Video (top): "Heart of the City" gets a Grande Opening by Benito Aragon, New Mexico Mercury, Feb 6, 2014