Larry Bob Phillips & CNM art students, Signs of the Times, 2014, mural on Century 14 Theater Building, Albuquerque

Heart of the City

February 1, 2014 – May 3, 2014

February 1 – May 3, 2014

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: ABQ/UNM City Lab, 
ACE Barber Shop
, Amy Biehl High School, 
Axle Contemporary, 
City of Albuquerque Public Art Program, 
CNM Art Department
, JustWrite, 
UNM College of Fine Arts
, UNM School of Architecture & Planning, 
Warehouse 508 and 
Working Classroom

Lead artists:

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 and 
Randall Wilson.

This project is made possible in part by grants from: BernalilloCounty; 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.


Lauren Tresp, “Heart of the City THE Magazine

Damon Scott, “Artists express views on Downtown’s future” Albuquerque Business First

“Art Students’ Mural of Iconic Route 66 Now Part of Downtown Art-scape”, CNM Newsroom

Megan Kamerick, “Heart of the City Examines Albuquerque’s Core” KUNM

“Building Albuquerque’s Creative Core” New Mexico in Focus (YouTube)

“Heart of the City Web Extra” New Mexico in Focus

“516 ARTS stops by to talk local art” The Morning Brew (YouTube)

“Larry and Erin get rather crafty” The Morning Brew (YouTube)

Benito Aragon, “516 ARTS Fosters Discussion in ‘Growing the Creative Core’” New Mexico Mercury