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Five murals beautify Lovington’s ‘Central Alley’

LOVINGTON — Some call them murals, some call them graffiti, but no matter the label put on the large-scale paintings, almost everyone can agree they are works of public art, meant to be seen by many.

And, five local artists have been toiling away at their craft, painting five individual murals in Lovington’s “Central Alley” ahead of their unveiling and the Central Alley Crawl scheduled for 6-10 p.m. August 13 — which happens to fall on a Friday.

Lovington artists Dante Rios, Edgar Palomero, and River Insilan along with Hobbs artists Aleyda Ortiz and Roger Barr have been working on their respective murals since July 19, and are taking part in the project as part of a larger beautification and construction mitigation plan put in place by Lovington MainStreet. The five artists submitted proposals to a five-juror committee and were selected based on their designs and vision for the project.

“The artists have been selected and are hard at work, and we’re thankful for those businesses that are working with us and understand the vision.” said Mara Salcido, Lovington MainStreet executive director. “It’s really exciting to be able to showcase local artists with local art for everyone to enjoy.”

And the artists expressed a sense of excitement too in bringing their visions to Lovington.

“I’m just trying to project the way we live here in Lovington, and why it’s called Lovington, because I think it’s full of love,” Palomero said. “To me it’s very important to have a sense of unity in the community.”

For some of the artists it is also about the growth of the arts in the greater Loving-ton and Lea County area.

“I envision us having a way bigger art community than what we have right now. This is going to help set the steps to be able to establish something like that,” Rios said. “I know this is going to be something great so I’m hoping a lot of people will catch on and put more towards this community and help make it a better place.”

“I’m really lucky to have been selected for this opportunity,” Barr said. “Community to me is overlooked, and I think under-appreciated.”

For several artists the excitement of producing something for the community at large is a way for them to give back, or let people see their work for the first time.

“This is a great opportunity to show my art to everyone and hopefully create a new community or a stronger one here in Lovington,” said Ortiz.

“This is actually going to be my first big physical mural that I’m doing,” Insilan said. “This means a lot to me. Being able to do something in the community is super awesome for me.”

But, the “Alley Crawl” hosted by Lovington Main-Street is only the tip of the paintbrush for the block party of activities happening at Central Alley on Friday the 13th. There will be multiple activities for “kids of all ages” and from 3-9 p.m. the Lovington Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a “Roller Rink Alley.” There will be many many sizes of skates available at the 2,400 square-foot outdoor roller rink that will be covering most of South 1st Street behind Central Alley, but anyone who has skates and wants to bring their own are welcome to do so.

“It’s free so anyone can do it,” Chamber president Leslie Boldt said smiling. “We thought it would be a neat idea to kick the party off with bringing in the mobile skating rink.”

For the older, over 21, “kids at heart” there will be a beer garden, and many vendors for shopping. For the younger ones there will be a coloring contest from a coloring book children, or their parents, can pick up at several merchants including Cornerstone Coffeehouse, Genesis MMA Gym, and Eunice Pump & Supply. Parents can then take a photo of two completed coloring book pages and upload them to Facebook, with the hashtag #CentralAlley for a chance to win a $10 gift card.

There will also be a corn-hole tournament, a live performance by the Justin Kemp Band, and the Chamber will be providing free ice cream.

“The biggest thing we heard was that people are looking for activities and things to do with their kids. So, we took that to heart, and we are focusing on family-friendly activities. Even though there may be a beer garden … we always wanted to make sure there are activities for kids to enjoy,” Boldt said. “It’s all focusing on stuff that’s fun for the children too.”

Because the construction on Main Street/Highway 82 is scheduled to begin in the next few weeks, the Chamber and MainStreet thought the Central Alley project would not only provide a visual boost and more public art in Lovington, but also would serve to help some of those businesses directly affected by the construction by highlighting an easier way for patrons to access them.

“The whole goal is to help with the mitigation of the construction that’s going to come on at the front of local businesses, so when people are funneled around that area, they can see it’s still really active and there’s all this stuff going on,” Boldt said.

The Highway 82/Main Street construction mitigation plan has five main components Salcido said. Those five components are:

• Install lighting along the west side of Central Alley.

• Beautify Central Alley

• Develop and implement a practical plan to address the collapsing building on Central Alley (at the corner of the alley and Central Avenue)

• Market and promote alternative entrances and access points to businesses facing Main Street, and backing to Central Alley

• Host Alley Crawl community festival to restore community pride and increase pedestrian activity

DeeAnn Kimbro, owner of the Country Store Quilt Shop and Sew Much Fun on Main Street in front of Central Alley, said while her business will continue to be open during the Alley Crawl and construction on Main Street, she did not participate in this round of murals in the project, but would consider adding a mural to the back of her building in the future if it could help identify her business.

“I appreciate them making people aware of the other ways people can get to the businesses on Main Street during the construction on Main Street,” she said. “If I had a large quilt square mural on the back of our building, I think that could be pretty.”

Lovington MainStreet and the Lovington Chamber of Commerce both said residents and visitors to the downtown area shouldn’t take the construction on Main Street as a sign everything is closed.

“All the businesses will be open, and the businesses can use people shopping at them more than ever with the construction,” Salcido said. “And, with Central Alley, we’re making it beautiful for people to enjoy.”

“When you look at the calendar of events, it is event after event, after event,” Boldt said. “There’s all kinds of fun things going on.”

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