A number of signs from long-gone Route 66 motels and businesses still stand along Central Avenue in Albuquerque, decaying in the desert sun.
However, artist Ellen Babcock has forged an idea for those “orphaned” signs, reported Local IQ:
“I was looking at the photographs I had taken on a walking tour we did and thought the abandoned signs, in all their different shapes and sizes, looked really cool,” she said. She saw potential; “tools of seduction” she calls them.
“I came up with an idea to use them as public art to bring the voice of the community to that part of town,” Babcock said. And so, Friends of the Orphan Signs, a collaborative public-arts project and educational initiative, was born. […]
The members of Friends of the Orphan Signs, seeing the beauty of decay and hearing the voice of history, aim to preserve and restore, instilling the personality of the community into vestiges of our past.
One of the group’s projects is at 4119 Central Ave. NE:
The sign at this locale was rehabilitated using funding from the Albuquerque Arts Board and depicts neon-colored images of a woman, majestic and hair flowing, towering over the Sandia Mountains — an almost Mother Goddess figure giving life to the landscape.
Another sign is located on the corner of Central Avenue and San Mateo Boulevard, next to the Octopus Car Wash in the old Tradewinds Motel lot. This “reader board” sign is now used to display short poems that have been submitted via text message to the number posted on the bottom of the board.
Some favorite passages have been “Wrap my spine around my eyes so I can look brave.” Or “Turn my granite heart to pink at dusk,” or “One letter turns tanks to thanks.”
Babcock says the group’s goal is to “give more incentive for property owners to turn over their signs to public art, before they decay to a point of irreparability.”
In its own peculiar way, Friends of the Orphan Signs has become a historic preservation group.
If you’re interested in supporting the group’s cause, you can donate here. And, yes, donations are tax-deductible.