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For the Love of Art

Art Allows For A Portrayal of Reality That Holds No Discrimination

Born from a deep history and rich culture, New Mexico houses an influential art scene. Artists from all walks of life find themselves inspired by the unconfined hues of the sunsets and the thriving vibes of downtown street life in Albuquerque. Art is common to everyone and allows for a portrayal of reality that holds no discrimination or biases - a local program in Albuquerque called ArtStreet exemplifies this philosophy.

A studio in Albuquerque creates community by bringing people experiencing homelessness, near-homelessness, social injustices, and emotional challenges together to create art. Located at Healthcare for the Homeless, 1217 1st St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, ArtStreet provides a lively space with an open-floor concept beaming with inspiration that fosters equality and inclusion. Visitors and aspiring artists are greeted by paint brushes that have dedicated many lifetimes of strokes to expression, a pottery wheel that turns with a hidden history of hands throwing clay, and tables that span the room studded with remnants of the human touch. The studio encourages practice in a variety of mediums and allows its users to showcase their creations. Here, community leaders collaborate with participants to bolster both creativity and artistic technique, aiding in personal and technical growth. The one-on-one connections made are aimed to help individuals gain control of their thoughts, emotions, and life by expressing themselves through art.

There is strength in a shared community. ArtStreet builds its community by providing its participants with resources, both tangible and intangible, to aid in growth, empowerment, and increased self-esteem. Factors contributing to homelessness are multifaceted and complex; because of this, sustainable solutions have been a challenge to develop and nourish. Homelessness can result in destabilized emotions, social isolation, lack of self-worth, and feeling left without purpose, and while not the be-all and end-all, ArtStreet looks to tackle these issues from a colorful and fresh point-of-view. ArtStreet emerged in 1994 from a leadership community on economic development aiming to “provide a safe, common ground to create and begin to solve difficult social problems related to homelessness.” ArtStreet states - “People who are homeless can claim a new identity as ‘artist’ and receive income from selling or teaching art in the studio, establishing opportunities to be productive and economically self-sufficient.”

ArtStreet invites all to their community space and provides the following to its visitors:

· OPEN ART STUDIOS: Free studio, open to all community members, regardless of their housing or economic status. Engages volunteer professional artists to share art skill-enhancing activities. ArtStreet provides opportunities to enhance art skills through weekly and monthly art-making workshops free and open to all.

· COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCIL: Open Art Studio participants interested in having a governing voice determine direction for exhibits, events, studio participant guidelines, writers groups, community collaborations, studio safety, mentoring scheduling and opportunities. Currently, the Community Advisory Council is in a re-development phase due to the pandemic.

· CLOSED ART STUDIOS: Specially arranged sessions for people who use drugs, parents with children (known as KidStreet – pre-pandemic), and others, includes art therapy, art making, and psychosocial rehabilitation. There is sparse documentation to date in current literature about the effectiveness of community-based art therapy models. However, art therapy itself is well-established as a useful therapeutic modality for changing behaviors, especially for people who have difficulty verbalizing their feelings or acknowledging them, due to their age, developmental level, lack of trust, fear of acknowledging the unknown, or mental illness (Saunders and Saunders, 2000). Art therapy has been proven to change attitudes and/or behavior, by increasing internal (locus of) control and improving self-esteem of adults and children who have experienced trauma, have substance abuse issues, or behavior disorders, and other health conditions that are prevalent in and characteristic of the population.

· ART EXHIBITS: Pre-pandemic, approximately 100 artists submitted over 300 pieces of art to the 7-11 exhibitions that are showcased in community-based public art spaces each year. Eighty-five percent of participating artists are homeless, near homeless, or formerly homeless. These exhibits have occurred at ArtStreet gallery, AHCH clinics, NM Highlands University, NM Solutions, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Harwood Art Center, Recycled Santa Fe, and other local galleries.

· ARTS & CRAFTS SELLING EVENTS: Artists receive 100% of the proceeds from sales. Selling events have occurred at the Downtown Grower’s Market, Food Truck Fridays at City Hall, Folk Art Festival, Recycled Santa Fe, Monte Vista Mercado, and ArtStreet openings and receptions. Visit our website or call to find out about the next selling event. 

· MENTORING PROGRAM: This program provides mentoring and leadership opportunities to teach skills, provide assistance to artists during open studio, and tour newcomers. Mentors are paid honoraria to act as Studio Assistants during weekly Open Studio and monthly Saturday Workshops.

To get involved visit www.abqhch.org/get-involved

Call: 505-766-6945 or Email: endhomelessness@abqhch.org

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