(Albuquerque, N.M.) KKOB — Mixed in with the tall brick and stucco buildings in downtown Albuquerque, there’s a bright and colorful property next to the old Fire Stone store on Central Ave. and Seventh Street. It’s called OT Circus, and inside you’ll find a proud supporter of the neighborhood’s burgeoning art scene.
Victoria Vandame is the Executive Director of OT Circus, an art therapy center that works to bring communities together. During the pandemic, her team kick-started Paint for Peace, turning Central’s boarded-up windows into works of art. “It was such a great feeling especially during the pandemic,” Vandame said, “and the best part about the project is that it really brought together that artist community and it really kind of revitalized and brought people to downtown, so that’s kind of the mission.”
Now, Vandame wants to help transform the city’s alleyways into activated and vibrant public spaces, helping to increase traffic at local businesses and make the area a more walkable and safer place. City Councilor Isaac Benton says it’s an idea he wholeheartedly supports. “The old-world streets that are that narrow are quite engaging. Art is a big part of our sense of place, and an artistic approach to redevelopment is always smart,” he said in a phone interview with News Radio KKOB.
Vandame has teamed up with Albuquerque’s Downtown MainStreet Organization to fund Activate the Alleys pilot project. On Saturday, starting at 7 a.m. volunteers can join her and her team to help clean up a series of alleys between Third and Fourth Streets on Central Avenue. Then starting at 10 a.m. artists will get to work using paints and projection art to turn the alleys into public spaces that people can enjoy. Phase one of the project’s expected to wrap up by August 21, 2021, bringing lots of new life and color to Downtown.
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