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ARTScrawl: A Self-Guided Tour Through ABQ's Art Mecca

By Allison Wilson

For 25 years, Albuquerque art lovers have had access to free, city-wide tours of the city's massive art scene through ARTScrawl, presented by the Albuquerque Arts Business Association, or AABA. The tours take place every first Friday and feature exhibit openings, receptions, demonstrations and special events.

"The inspiration for the ARTScrawl was a desire to create a sense of community and destination for the gallery areas in Albuquerque," says Spring Griffin, ARTScrawl Coordinator.

ARTScrawl provides participants with a listing of member galleries, which includes details about their current shows and can be used to put together a self-guided tour covering locations from Old Town and Downtown, to Nob Hill and the Northeast Heights. Each area reflects the city's rich, multicultural heritage with galleries that feature fine art, functional art, Native American Art, and contemporary New Mexican art.

"What makes New Mexico Art different is the New Mexican light and spiritual healing," Griffin says. "Artists are captured by the heightened light that casts unique tones on our landscapes and the spiritual healing many artists experience through creating their works of art. New Mexico is a state of the arts- with many art communities from Taos to Las Cruces."

ARTScrawl also includes district tours every third Saturday of the month, which rotate between the Old Town area, Route 66, and Northeast Heights.

Old Town is where it all started, as Albuquerque's oldest neighborhood. It is known as the "Heart of Albuquerque," and its galleries display paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, furniture, textiles, costumes, drawings, pastels, watercolors, collages, prints, artists' books, photographs, and installation art. The Northeast Heights District's diverse galleries are located near fine restaurants, pubs, and unique shops. The vibrant, eclectic Nob Hill in the Route 66 District is a favorite of locals- with galleries that feature abstract art, metal sculpture, 17th-20th century paintings and fine art and books from the Old West. Downtown in the Route 66 District includes historical and cultural landmarks like the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, along with a broad range of public art and galleries that appeal to many tastes. Griffin recalls a recent trip to the area's Sumner & Dene gallery.

"I recently went to an exhibit at Sumner & Dene to see Frank McCulloch's paintings," she says. "The colors he uses in his New Mexico landscapes are what I love about our state. The gallery had work by so many artists, and there was something that appealed to all of the people that I went with."

American Style Magazine once called Albuquerque's art scene "eclectic and quirky," and has recognized the city as a top art destination for many years. Thanks to ARTScrawl, locals and visitors have plenty of opportunities to appreciate that destination and all of its arts offerings.

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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