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Media Release

Published: 01/12/2016
516 ARTS, 505-242-1445,

NEW DOWNTOWN MURAL: Color Sphere by PA System

New Downtown Mural explores the “Overview Effect” which people experience when they look at the Earth from space.
516 ARTS, in partnership with Downtown ABQ MainStreet Initiative, presents Color Sphere, a new site-specific Downtown mural as the culminating piece of 516 ARTS' season-long series called HABITAT: Exploring Climate Change Through the Arts., sharing the message of this project into the future. We welcome special guest artists' team PA System - Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka from Toronto - who will create the mural during January 18-29, 2016 on the building at 115 Gold Avenue SW in Downtown Albuquerque on the Theatre Block between 1st & 2nd Streets. The artists will be assisted by youth apprentices from Working Classroom. The mural is the first mural under the City of Albuquerque's new public/private partnership program to help fund public art murals on private property through the 1% for Art Ordinance.

Color Sphere breaks the corner space of 115 Gold Avenue SW and plays to the location's right angles by introducing a large round form reminiscent of a planet whose core will be filled with painterly and playfully rendered objects. These objects, which can be interpreted as artifacts, microscopic specimens of ocean life or magnified grains of sand, will take on their own characters, personalities and interconnected dialogue.

The artists say, "We are constantly brought back to the observation made by researchers when studying astronauts and cosmonauts upon their return to Earth. The Overview Effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface. It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, ‘hanging in the void,' shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, astronauts claim, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this ‘pale blue dot' becomes both obvious and imperative. The forms within the color sphere will change slightly while we paint them. Like high arctic soap stone carvers revealing the bear within the rock or like archeologists brushing away dirt from a dig to find tools from an unidentified people, we will arrange our finds within the core of the color sphere and display them for all to see."

PA System, comprised of artists Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka, works in textile, printmaking, painting, film and large-scale public art, internationally and particularly in Canada's high arctic. PA System has exhibited work at the Royal Ontario Museum's Institute for Contemporary Culture, The Trace Gallery in Zurich, Articulate Baboon Gallery in Cairo, and the Institute for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona. Their projects have been supported by The Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Art Council, The Chalmers Family Fellowship, and the BC Arts Council.

516 ARTS, an independent nonprofit arts organization founded in 2006, has a history of creating high-quality, contemporary art murals in Downtown Albuquerque that are presented in conjunction with the its exhibitions, which serve as a thematic guide and a marketing umbrella for the murals. The area between Copper & Silver and 2nd & 3rd Streets has become a showcase for 516 ARTS' murals by acclaimed local and national artists, and the mural by PA System will add an international element to this special section of new development in Downtown Albuquerque featuring world-class contemporary art murals.

This project is made possible with lead funding from The City of Albuquerque's Public Art Program and additional support from Albuquerque 2030 District and the Historic District Improvement Company. Special thanks to the McCune Charitable Foundation.

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