A look at five works of public art around Duke City and the stories they contain
On the fourth Sunday of each month, Adrian Gomez, Editor-in-Chief of Journal Arts, tells the stories behind some of the hidden gems you can see across the state in âGimme Fiveâ.
Hakim Bellamy is one with art.
As a poet, he created it with words and phrases.
As deputy director of the City of Albuquerque Arts and Culture Department, he draws inspiration from the public works of art he sees around Duke City.
Over the past 43 years, the city’s public art program has acquired over 1,000 pieces for the public. The program has also seen $ 20 million allocated to art and is one of the oldest public arts programs.
Bellamy is able to see a wide variety of art on a daily basis. He picked out a handful of pieces that he shares with downtown audiences.
â(I) chose the ones that I have good stories about, rather than the ones that are my favorites,â Bellamy says. “Because all good storiesâ¦ at least the ones that are good enough to shareâ¦ are public art, aren’t they?” “
1. “RELEGATION” by Lance Ryan McGoldrick, a temporary art installation at Rail Yards Market.
Bellamy says there’s something about the ephemeral.
âThis room is like a mirage or a chimera when you step on it,â he says. “The first time I saw him I rubbed my eyes, as if to say ‘can’t that be that?’ It is lit (as the children say), from the inside like the suitcase from “Pulp Fiction”. It makes you curious about where the light is coming from, what draws you to look inside, thenâ¦ a wild garden, inside the shed rather than outside. The sun is also in the shedâ¦ with the garden. Yeah, that’s cool. It is an inversion of reality and of our expectations. It’s immersive and experiential. And I’ve had the good fortune to meet Lance a few times; he’s a cool guy.
2. “PIÃATA PIANO” by Adrian Martin is located in downtown Albuquerque, at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Bellamy says he has a sentimental attachment to the playable public artwork.
He shared an image of his son playing the piano about three years ago.
“I also played the piano growing up, and his skills are a mix of lessons he was taking at the time and playing the piano I grew up on in South Jersey at my parents’ house,” says- he. âYeah, all the feelings. “
3. “VERNACULAR SOUTH-WEST III” by Kenny Davis is located in the Mayor’s office on the 11th floor.
It is a lithograph that was acquired in 2014.
Bellamy posted about the room about three months ago on Instagram saying, “This room never gets old. I don’t always park under Town Hallâ¦ but when I doâ¦”
âI love this room,â he says. “â¦ There are others like me who love food, who love Albuquerqueâ¦ and who love Albuquerque food!” Kenny Davis (@kennydavisprojects) even commented on the “flow”. It’s like a 2D menu of 3D menus.
4. “MERGE” by Ramon Garcia is located at 400 Marquette NW inside the City / County Government building on the seventh floor.
The metal frame was installed in 2009.
Bellamy walks by the room frequently due to her job at Town Hall.
âIt takes me back to my cultural roots in my hometown of Philadelphia and the early types of graffiti art,â he says. âI feel very influenced by the wild style, which reminds me of long car and train trips home. It’s super cool that the artist, Ramon Garcia, must have been young back then, because it was a Metro Youth Award purchase. And the fact that the material looks a lot less ‘flexible’ than an aerosol is also impressive. â
5. “JOLLY RODGERS” by Ben Hazard is located at 401 Second St. NW inside the stairwell wall of the West Complex of the Albuquerque Convention Center.
The piece was installed in 2014 and is a relief – which is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material.
Bellamy says Hazard passed away in 2019. He was fortunate enough to work with Hazard while Bellamy was still in the state and working for the New Mexico State Office of African American Affairs (OAAA).
âIt was over 10 years ago when ‘the Bureau’ (as the OAAA is sometimes referred to in the community) worked with the city to commission the Buffalo Soldier sculpture at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial Park,â says he. âIt was an honor to work with him then on this project, to achieve the likeness of the black soldiers depicted in our telling of our New Mexico history. He’s always been nice to me.
Bellamy says the piece is more impressionistic, a departure from the figurative sculpture work for which Hazard was known.
âI always thought this piece reminded me more of a Jolly Rancher (in terms of color, shape and sparkle) than the Pirate Flag (Jolly Rogers),â he says. “But hey, the sugar will kill you!” Some say the origin of the phrase Jolly Roger was pretty French red, as the skull and crossbones of pirate flags were originally red and not black. I can dig it.