ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – What started as a small gathering in downtown Albuquerque about four years ago has grown into a popular event that draws a big crowd, but that wasn’t what organizers necessarily intended. The vision was to showcase businesses that featured local artists but after the format changed during the pandemic, Artwalk took on new proportions. 

“Definitely after the pandemic I remember once they lifted the regulations there were hundreds of people in the street. It seems like it got even bigger after the pandemic,” said Mothership Alumni Co-Owner Stephanie Jamison.

Like any business affected by COVID-19, Albuquerque’s Artwalk was no different. In order to adapt and reduce the spread of the virus, vendors resorted to setting up shop outside on sidewalks. “We went through this whole process of having to fill out event permits for Artwalk,” said Curious Toast Owner, Victoria Van Dame.  However, what originally started as a small art scene, quickly drew large crowds and vendors not associated with Artwalk started setting up as well “I think it did have to have something with people just wanting to be out; it was finally allowed,” said Jamison.

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Some were all for artists coming together, “It’s a really neat activity. It gets people out in the community and you get to see different things so I think it’s very enjoyable,” said Artwalk patron, Patrick Wilson. Others however are on the fence. “Everybody should follow the rules, but I think there is room for everybody at the table,” said Artist, Victor Saenz. Some who are sanctioned by Albuquerque’s Artwalk say rules are rules. “When they pop up, it’s just kind of like well, we are paying our fees for the art walk, we are on the social media feeds and things like that. When people just pop up sometimes it’s not handmade, it’s more of a money-making opportunity,” said Van Dame.

Organizers say they are working with sponsors as well as with the city to address the unauthorized vendors and bring Artwalk back to what it was originally meant for. One business we spoke with, which is affiliated with Artwalk, says officials have started warning unauthorized vendors about required permits.