Belen hopeful after new Judy Chicago smoke sculpture performance

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BELEN, N.M – A new site-specific Smoke Sculpture ‘Diamonds in the Sky’ kicked off in Belen at the Belen Arts District Sunday.

“Don and I thought well, there are all these events, why not do a smoke piece and why Belen? Well we are interested to reignite the Becker Avenue Arts District because like every other small art cites, the pandemic has really hurt everybody,” said artist Judy Chicago.

Now that restrictions in New Mexico have been lifted, folks came from far and wide.

“I’ve been a fan of Judy’s my whole life, I mean I’m of her generation and she was one of the strongest voices of our time, especially for women,” said Barbara Bentree, a Santa Fe resident.

While Chicago has many fans, it wasn’t always easy to get them to come to here.

“I used to live in Santa Fe and when we moved down here, and we’d invite people to come, and they’d go ‘south of the airport?’ I used to joke it was easier to get people here from China than from Santa Fe,’” said Chicago.

Two years ago, after the arts district went under renovations, people in Belen felt Chicago’s artwork was inappropriate.

“We weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms at the beginning,” said Chicago.

This year’s event painted a different picture.

“Judy Chicago is an amazing artist her smoke sculpture was phenomenal we appreciate everything she does for Belen,” said Belen Mayor, Jerah R. Cordova.

The performance helped the community bounce back from the recent flooding disaster.

“It’s important as a city to be resilient we have had tough times, but we need business, we need people to support our town and this is a part of that,” said Cordova.