LOVINGTON — The gathered storm clouds of Friday the 13th couldn’t dampen the spirits in Lovington as the city celebrated with a block party “Alley Crawl.”
Free roller skating on a 2,000-square-foot outdoor skating rink, free ice cream, the unveiling of five murals painted by local artists, a cornhole tournament, food truck featuring Pastify, vendors, a beer garden, and live music from the Justin Kemp Band were just some of the activities drawing hundreds to downtown Lovington.
The event, which spanned the alley behind Main Street, dubbed “Central Alley,” and North 1st Street between Central Avenue and East Washington Avenue was put on as a joint effort of Lovington MainStreet and the Lovington Chamber of Commerce to make people aware businesses on Main Street will still be open during demolition and construction in front of the courthouse.
Residents seemed to like what the public art brings to the area.
“I think the murals kind of brighten the whole area,” Lovington resident Ron Humphrey said. “Since they’re going to be redoing the Main Street, it’ll give people something to look at when they come down this back street, and have to come in (the businesses) from the rear entrances.”
The artists were also happy to be part of the project as well.
“It feels amazing, especially being so close to home,” artist Aleyda Ortiz of Hobbs told the News-Sun at the celebration Friday.
And, artists hope the murals not only serve to provide public art for the city but can also be used to bring people together.
“I think this is bringing unity to the community. It’s also a positive way to improve the town,” muralist, and Lovington resident Edgar Palomero told the News-Sun. “It’s a good way to inspire people to do better.”
The five murals in Central Alley may just be the starting point of the entire alley being painted, and the launching point of Loving-ton becoming known as a town of the arts.
“We’re hoping to do some more and make this a beautiful place full of color,” Palomero said.
“I think this has started the art community — a small art community. I think having visible art is something that is super important to have,” Ortiz said. “It’s something that demonstrates there is an art community here. It’s been here, it just hasn’t been as visible as right now. (The murals) is definitely a great way to kick it off and hopefully it grows.”
Residents said they hope it does start the process of getting more murals in Lovington.
“That’s what we hope,” Humphrey said smiling and then offered advice to anyone looking for a mural on their building. “There’s quite a few artists around here that do (murals), so contact one of them and see what kind of deal you can work out. They want to paint, and some people want to get their building painted.”
Ortiz said a project like the one put on by Loving-ton MainStreet with the murals shows artists can be successful no matter where they come form.
“When I was younger, I didn’t know what I could do and what was possible so
I really hope the younger generation does see this and thinks, ‘I can do art,’” Ortiz said. “I’m here to tell you that you can be successful in art.”
All of the artists seemed to share a desire for their art to open communication between people, and hope that whatever the future of public art in Lovington is that it will bring people together in a time where everything else seems to be dividing.
“I wish through all of this we could have more empathy with each other, that would be my desire,” Palomero said.