• In a first for the city, an on-street mural will come to 4th in Barelas
  • Elementary school cooking classes on Zoom? 'They can still learn from that chaos.'
  • Robotics firm expanding to new Downtown digs
In a first for the city, an on-street mural will come to 4th in Barelas
The "youth team" behind the mural includes Delilah Montoya, Joseph Furlow, Angelina Lucero, Mercedes Perez-Chavez, Lina Sanchez, Delilah Tapia, Jaylene Torres, Danna Velasquez, and Dante Wisch. Pictured at the Barelas Community Center. (Photo courtesy of Artful Life.)
Murals are practically synonymous with walls - right down to the Latin origin of the word. But in the coming weeks, a group of Barelas teens will take the concept to the streets. Literally.

In partnership with Artful Life, a non-profit, the group will paint the entire intersection of 4th and Hazeldine for a project that is part community-building exercise, part artistic endeavor, and part effort to get drivers to notice the work and slow down a bit.

The actual design of the mural is still in the draft stage and is being kept under wraps for the time being, said Valerie Martinez, the director of Artful Life.

Installation is slated for later this month or next month.

"The weather will be better and it gives us a bit more time to schedule an opening and celebration that follows all state health guidelines," Martinez said. "It may be something like a 'rolling' opening celebration."

The teen artists have consulted with neighbors and city departments on the design, and also got coaching from Reyes Padilla, the man behind the mural at 12th and Bellamah that is inspired by an Al Hurricane song (DAN, 5/21/20).

The on-street project appears to be a first for Albuquerque, though a controversial rainbow-themed crosswalk in Nob Hill installed in 2019 at least approaches the idea. The Barelas mural seems to be taking more inspiration from efforts in Kansas City, Norfolk, and Saginaw, Michigan, which involved painting large swaths of pavement (photos).

The shelflife of such murals is, of course, considerably shorter than those painted on walls - a logical side effect of being driven over by what the Mid-Region Council of Governments in 2019 estimated was 10,000 cars per weekday. But that is seen both as the cost of doing business and an opportunity to keep the general momentum going.

"We're planning for three years minimum and hoping for more," Martinez said. "There won't be any de-installation, just a gradual vanishing followed by (we hope) a repainting."
Elementary school cooking classes on Zoom? 'They can still learn from that chaos.'
On Monday, a series of elementary school parents stopped by La Esquinita, the all-purpose community hub at 4th and Coal, to pick up special meal prep kits with carefully portioned ingredients.

But this is not some new farmers' market-type to-go service. It's the basis of a virtual cooking class. Tonight, those parents will gather their kids, open the kit, and turn on Zoom.

Welcome to the COVID-era version of something Kids Cook, a food education group, has been doing in local classrooms for 20 years. The students of Dolores Gonzales will be logging on tonight, with kids from Eugene Field, Longfellow, and Lew Wallace taking a turn next week. The menu, following a unit on the Pacific Northwest, will feature salmon cakes and green beans.

The logistics of teaching elementary schoolers cooking online are tricky, to say the least. No two sets of kitchen tools are alike, so there is more improvisation. Parents also need to be involved, particularly when the knife use comes up, and all those extra adults (plus curious siblings) can sometimes add up to a total attendance of 60 people, said Sara Robbins, the Kids Cook executive director.

A recipe for chaos? Sure, but the educational kind nonetheless.

"They can still learn from that chaos," Robbins said, while allowing that "we do ask them to mute because it does get loud."

In the end, the food gets cooked, and it's a chance for instructors to talk about other cultures, promote literacy through the precise directions of recipes, and teach a little practical math with the measurements.

Like the craft itself, Swiss-watch-like precision is not strictly necessary here.

"Cooking is messy," Robbins said, "and that's okay because you can clean it up."
Robotics firm expanding to new Downtown digs
The Breezy One, a roving disinfection machine made by Build with Robots, has recently been deployed at St. Mary's Catholic School (6th and Tijeras) as part of COVID prevention efforts. It is also used at the Sunport. (Photo by Build with Robots)
A local robotics company is moving into bigger offices just east of the convention center to accommodate anticipated growth.

Build with Robots has been using just over 400 square feet in the FUSE Makerspace, an education non-profit that provides members with access to classes and a wide array of tools for small manufacturing projects. The company plans to make a temporary move to the Springer Building, less than 1,000 feet to the north, and later to 429 Commercial, which is part of the same complex that includes Villa Myriam Coffee Roasters (map diagram here).

The move will be boosted by up to $360,000 in local economic development funding for its new lease payment obligations.
Downtown Albuquerque News covers greater Downtown, which we generally define as the area created by I-40, the Rio Grande, and the railroad tracks. We publish weekdays except for federal holidays. If someone forwarded DAN to you, please consider subscribing. To subscribe, contact us, submit a letter to the editor, or learn more about what we do, click here. If you ever run into technical trouble receiving DAN, click here.
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