NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A New Mexico artist is telling the stories of men and women who have lived troubled lives and is celebrating a big accomplishment. Frank Blazquez now has one of his portraits hanging in one of the world’s largest art museums.

“The title is the ‘Gallegos Twins from Belen, New Mexico,'” said photographer Frank Blazquez. “I really like their look, they’re identical twins and I feel like they portrayed what Belen looks like,” he explained. It’s people like the Gallegos twins that have fueled Blazquez’s passion for street photography.

We introduced you to Blazquez back in 2018 when he started his Youtube series, Duke City Diaries, telling the hard stories of people who have lived troubled lives, and at times, broken the law in order to survive. Since then Blazquez has branched out, featuring people in surrounding communities like the Borderland and Santa Fe.

“I have a new documentary in Santa Fe about a young man who was actually on trial for murder,” Blazquez said. “His name was Zachary Gutierrez,” he said. Gutierrez’s story racked up 21,000 views on YouTube.

The YouTube series isn’t his only work getting a lot of attention. His portrait of the Gallegos twins is now hanging in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery as part of the Outwin 2022 American Portraiture Today Exhibit. “To have your image on those walls, it takes some time to breathe that in,” Blazquez said.

Blazquez was one of nearly 3,000 artists to submit an entry, and one of only 42 who got accepted. The exhibit opened this weekend and Blazquez was there to see his portrait hanging alongside the other portraits, created by some of the country’s most talented artists.

“Seeing it for the first time is really unbelievable, it’s breathtaking,” Blazquez explained. He says after only six years of practicing photography, this is a huge and unexpected accomplishment.

“I’m still in a state of disbelief,” Blazquez said. “Their portrait is there, my name is up there, honored, very humbled,” Blazquez said. The exhibit will be on display for three years.