Albuquerque, NM

The El Puente/Barelas project utilizes art to strengthen community relationships and enable residents to co-envision, co-design and co-create works of art in the Barelas neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Special thanks to the City of Albuquerque, Councilor Isaac Benton, and the McCune Charitable Foundtion.



Barelas Youth Artist Team. In September, 2019, after 3 months of recruitment, Artful Life formed a youth artist team of teens who live in Barelas. From September 2019 to October 2020, the team co-created art and reached into their community to survey residents about their perspectives on their neighborhood and what kinds of art residents would like to see. The result is an intersection mural that will be completed in March of 2021. Learn more about the project here.


This project is being generously supported by the City of Albuquerque and the McCune Charitable Foundation.  Partners include the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Barelas Community Coalition, and Homewise.  For more, visit the team page!


Iluminarte! 2019 - December 8, 2019 (watch video at right) is the second annual celebration of light and luminarias in the Barelas neighborhood. This year, the Story Riders (elementary school students) lead a magical light and bike parade along the Paseo del Bosque with two performances and a poetry reading along the way.  Learn more here.  The project is a creative partnership between the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Artful Life, the City of Albuquerque, Story Riders, Barelas Youth Artist Team, AirDance NM and the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program with funding by the City of Albuquerque and the McCune Charitable Foundation.

A Trilogy of Plays about Barelas based on community storytelling workshops (see right).  This project (January-August of 2019) was a partnership between Artul Life, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Homewise and residents of Barelas.  Residents wrote stories and scenes which led to a trilogy of plays by three playwrights who live in Barelas.

The Children's Bilingual Book Festival (2019 -2021) was a partnership between Artful Life and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This first of its kind book festival took place in Barelas and celebrated K-6 books in English, Spanish and Native languages. Learn more.



Iluminarte! (December 8) Artful Life, in partnership with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, presented day-long celebration of farolitos/luminarias  which included an illuminated bike parade (led by StoryRiders), a show of writing and art, an art-makin workshop and a historical presentation about the little paper bags with sand and candles--a New Mexico tradition. Attended by about 300 kids and families, the day was a vibrant celebration in the Barelas neighborhood.

The 2018 Barelas Artist Team (see below) presented its spring 2018 event after 5 months of creative collaboration and neighborhood dialogue.


"PoeTrees: Verses

Rooted in Barelas"

Sunday, May 6, 1-4 pm.

The team (at right) adorned newly-planted trees with poems, engaged with neighbors, enjoyed paletas, and celebrated the stories of Barelas.

2018 Artist Team: Beca Alderete Baca, Courtney Bell, Alicia Chavez, Ophelia Cornet, Izabelle Fernandez, Raul Garza, Beth Hansen, Tureguay Inaru, Annette Lujan, Leonard Madrid, Valerie Martinez, Michelle Otero, Monica Sanchez (Program Director) and Shelle Sanchez. 

Project Phases


Phase One: Getting To Know You (2015-2017)

The Artful Life team met with a wide range of residents and neighborhood organizations to listen to their stories and perspectives about Barelas. The team met with people individually, by hosting larger gatherings (see below) and also via small block parties and art dinners, engaging in dialogue while creating hand-printed mandalas.  


Phase Two: Arts Engagement (2018-2020)

As a result of Phase One, Artful Life formed a resident artist team of adults (2018) and a resident cyouth team (2019) that created and are creating art and performance in Barelas with significant community involvement

Phase Three: Community-Led Development Projects  (Summer 2021 and Beyond)

Like our work in the Int'l District, Phase Three of this project builds on previous phases to nurture community-led initiatives catalyzed by engagement. 

The project is being funded by the City of Albuquerque (with thanks to City Councilor Isaac Benton), the McCune Charitable Foundation, and New Mexico Arts as well as a individual donors.  

We are grateful to the following organizations who have collaborated with us and/or served as advisors and consultants since 2015: Casa Barelas, Mainstreet Barelas, National Hispanic Cultural Center, StoryRiders, Dolores Gonzales Elementary School,  the Barelas Neighborhood Association, and Working Classroom.

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Barelas Youth Team at Work (Fall 2019)

¡Iluminarte! 2019

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