Welcome to a virtual tour of my hometown, Albuquerque, New Mexico! This is not your average guide of “things to do when visiting [Insert name of City]”. I won’t be recommending specific restaurants, museums, bars, etc. Instead, the focus is on exploring the city through it’s vibrant, beautiful murals and street art. You’ll get a taste of the history, culture, and much more. In addition, if you choose to explore this list, you’ll undoubtedly stumble across restaurants, shops, and more along the way.
I’ve listed some of my favorites below, grouped together in a way that I found makes the most sense to visit them. For more murals and an up-to-date list, check out the official site for MurosABQ. (Muros translates from Spanish as “walls”.)
Note: While many located in downtown are within walking distance of each other, you may need a car to visit all on this list.
Located near the University of New Mexico, the Nob Hill neighborhood of Albuquerque is a stretch of the iconic Route 66 packed with brewpubs, taquerias, hookah bars and pizzerias. Quirky clothing boutiques and antiques stores dot the area, and small galleries exhibit contemporary artworks.
You’ll stumble upon a lot of street art simply by walking down Central Avenue, but below I’ve listed out a few of my favorites along with their location.
Greetings, from Burque by Victor Ving
Location: Little Bear Coffee (3123 Central Ave NE Suite D, Albuquerque, NM 87106)
Greetings Tour is a nationwide mural project creating interactive landmarks through public art. Using the classic large letter postcard style, the artwork captures the pride of locals for their hometowns and sparks the interests of visitors alike. At each stop, the artists collaborate with local artists, businesses and residents to create a piece of true public art that engages the community.
I love the bright and vibrant colors of this mural. The hot air balloons represent the Balloon Fiesta, an international hot air balloon festival that takes place every year in October. The letter R is painted with vibrant yellow and the red Zia (the sun symbol of the Zia Pueblo Indians) of the New Mexican State flag, as well as red and green chile which are staples in New Mexican cuisine. The Q showcases the natural beauty of the desert. The U represents the importance of Native American Culture and Heritage in New Mexico, while the E depicts the Sandia Peak Tramway, the longest aerial aerial tramway in the Americas, as well as the world’s third longest single span. The sum, is a mural unique to what makes Albuquerque, New Mexico special.
Untitled, by Ernest Doty
Location: Slice Parlor (3410 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106)
This mural is arguably one of my favorite that I’ve ever photographed. I tend to gravitate towards very bright colors, and murals of faces/people. I’ve found that many murals depict powerful human emotions and strong personas which I LOVE. In a future post, I’ll explore a collection of top street art that represents humans.
Untitled, by Kerry Bergen
Location: 3416 Central Avenue Southeast
This mural is located in the same alley as the one above. The colors and shapes are really representative of the Southwestern United States. In particular, turquoise is a very common color to see in New Mexico from the trim on homes, to jewelry, to art of all kinds. Turquoise deposits are widely distributed across New Mexico, so much that the mineral has come to be a symbol of the state. It also has a special history, best represented by the Turquoise Trail which links Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
This region was coveted long before the search for gold for its rich deposits of turquoise, as well as lead ores. Turquoise was first mined by the early Pueblo people, who dwelt along the Rio Grande as early as 900 A.D. The Cerrillos hills represents three cultures and the longest intact record of historic stone maul and pick and shovel mining in the Southwest.
Untitled, by Melinda Forward
Location: Three Little Birds Cafe (Right across the way from the previous mural)
One of the best Gandhi quotes and advocating for kindness…need I say more? Another reason I love to explore murals/street art in any city is because not only are they great representations of the communities and cultures of a given geographical location, they’re also statements. Statements on what we want for our communities, of belonging, and of course, a statement of beauty. They’re a way to make the space we live in ours, to be a large and in-your-face source of inspiration for our communities. They are so powerful!
Untitled, by Jaque Fragura
Location: Little Bear Coffee (3123 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106 — right next to the first mural)
This one doesn’t require much commentary. Its large and super colorful, that’s all it needs! It’s an example of a wall so colorful, you can’t help but stumble upon it if you’re eating at a restaurant in the area or simply walking down Central Avenue. Beautifying the city one wall at a time.
Well Behaved…, by Pandr Design Co.
Location: High and Dry Brewing (529 Adams St NE, Albuquerque, NM 87108)
It’s colorful, it’s bold, it makes a statement. Plus, it allows you to explore a local brewery
A little further down town and away from the University area, you’ll find even more great art works.
As mentioned above, you’ll stumble upon a lot of street on foot, simply by walking around the Downtown area. However, beware of the heat in the summer! A short walk feels much longer in the dead of June-August. I’ve listed out a few of my favorites below, along with their location, in case you’re looking for a more specific agenda.
Untitled, by Mauricio Ramirez
Location: The parking lot located at 608 Copper Avenue NW.
I love the style of this mural, and to me, it feels very influenced by our Hispanic cultural heritage here in New Mexico. After reading the artist’s bio on his website, he seems to sum up a lot of what I feel is important about this in artworks throughout various communities. Art is more powerful than we think!
“I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of how the visibility of culture can lead to not only the growth of confidence, but also care within our communities.”Mauricio Ramirez
Untitled, by Unknown
Location: The parking lot located at 608 Copper Avenue NW.
This mural is located on the pay station in the same parking lot as the one above.
Untitled, by Jaque Fragura and Mauricio Ramirez
Location: The parking lot located at 608 Copper Avenue NW
You can’t miss this one, as its located right next to the two above.
This one is also located in the same parking lot, on the opposite side of the same building that the one directly above it is on.
The Harvest, by Gilberto Guzman
Location: 5th & Copper Parking Structure Elevator
This mural can be found inside a parking garage, on a wall alongside the elevator. It just goes to show, any free wall is fair game for street art. Places as mundane-looking as a car parking garage can surely use some lively colors (arguably, more so than other places). This one in particular extends up multiple floors, making the whole stairwell a lively experience.
Untitled, by Gris One
Location: 900 Park Avenue SW
And finally, located down the street from the downtown murals listed above, is this final favorite of mine. The bright colors really liven up the local businesses and make walking in downtown more enjoyable!
Do you appreciate street art? What is your favorite way to explore a new city? Let me know in the comments below! And if you ever visit Albuquerque, New Mexico, I hope you come across some of the art pieces I’ve shared.
You might also enjoy: 20 Incredible Murals I Discovered in 2020