Unique art project showcases part of ABQ’s rich history

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ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – You might have seen them around town – billboards with no advertisements, just photos. They’re part of a project centered around a piece of Albuquerque’s history. Steam Song is a conceptual art project set to showcase the Rail Yard’s rich past.

“I’ve always been struck by the bad reputation, all the politics and the public image and the great space that is actually is,” said Albuquerque local and Steam Song contributor Lee Blaugrund.

Blaugrund says it all started three years ago when he had the opportunity to tour the Albuquerque Rail Yards with an artist friend. The two say what they found there was inspiring.

“The first time he showed me the place, I have to say, I was blown away. It was so beautiful. The sun was there, the glasses, the whole building was empty and I was really impressed, and this was a moment when, both of us, we said we have to do something,” said conceptual artist Hans Winkler.

They decided to begin a project to highlight the Rail Yard’s past and move away from the place it had become – an empty building ridden with graffiti and broken windows.

“We hope to give the community a little bit of a taste of the history and the cultural significance and the impressive nature of the facility so we’ll change the needle a little bit in peoples’ minds, the image that they’ve got a real asset in Albuquerque and they’re lucky to have it,” Blaugrund said.

Winkler began researching the Albuquerque Rail Yards, interviewing former workers and studying its history.

Friday, he and Blaugrund will premiere Steam Song, a three-part project.It includes four billboards featuring photos representing different viewpoints of the Albuquerque Rail Yards, brochures detailing the place’s history and “Ghost Train,” a recording of a steam engine set to play in the Rail Yard’s Blacksmith Building.

“Ghost Train” will play repeatedly and randomly through a sound system in the building. It’s set to last between four to six weeks.

Blaugrund says the Albuquerque Rail Yards has developed a persona since the project started three years ago. There are now a number of community events held within the facility.

The project premieres at 11 a.m. Friday at the Albuquerque Rail Yards.

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